The Corner

A Subject Not to Be Forgotten

I have been “listening to Putin,” that is, examining his year-end press conference, held on December 23. Part II of my series “Listening to Putin” is up today — here. It is the second and final part.

On the Corner, I would like to highlight one portion. At the end of 2001, President George W. Bush gave notice that we, the United States, would be withdrawing from the ABM Treaty. I thought this was a magnificent and overdue step. The Soviet Union had been expired for ten years. And freedom from the ABM Treaty meant freedom to make progress on missile defense.

I am an original and hard-bitten SDI-er. The logic — moral and otherwise — of missile defense seems obvious to me.

At his press conference, Putin addressed this subject of America and missile defense, more than once. “The United States paved the way to a new arms race by withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” he said. One side, the United States, is “building a nuclear umbrella for itself.” So the other side, Russia, has to “overcome” this system and “improve” its offensive capability — “which we are doing.”

Putin continued, “We have made progress in improving our nuclear-triad systems, including the means to break through missile defense. This system is currently much more effective than missile defense.”

A thought: It’s been 34 years since Reagan started the SDI program, and 15 years since George W. Bush withdrew us from the ABM Treaty. How are we doing? What advances have our scientists, engineers, and others made? I did a series in 2013, on the 30th anniversary of Reagan’s SDI speech. I should check in more often.

So should we — we Americans — collectively. This is important.

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