It has been 30 years now since President Reagan gave his famous speech announcing our missile-defense project. That is a long time, as modern science goes. Thirty years before Reagan’s speech — i.e., in 1953 — Dr. Salk announced his polio vaccine. Fourteen years before Reagan’s speech — i.e., in 1969 — we landed men on the moon. Think of that: We are now more than twice as distant from Reagan’s missile-defense speech as we were then from the moon landing.
And what have we accomplished in the last 30 years? We have accomplished a fair amount, but not as much as we could have, and not as much as we should have. We have had four presidents since Reagan. Two of them — father and son — have been strongly supportive of missile defense. The other two, including our current president, much less so, to put it mildly. Why missile defense is not a national priority is a mystifying and maddening question.