Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reagan Made The Missile Hit Possible

The AP reports:

A Navy missile soaring 130 miles above the Pacific smashed a dying and potentially deadly U.S. spy satellite Wednesday and probably destroyed a tank carrying 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel, officials said.

Officials had expressed cautious optimism that the missile would hit the satellite, which was the size of a school bus. But they were less certain of hitting the smaller, more problematic fuel tank, whose contents posed what Bush administration officials deemed a potential health hazard to humans if it landed intact.

In a statement announcing that the Navy missile struck the satellite, the Pentagon said, "Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours." It made no mention of early indications, but a defense official close to the situation said later that officials monitoring the collision saw what appeared to be an explosion, indicating that the fuel tank was hit.

The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles—not orbiting satellites—launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite about three minutes later as the spacecraft traveled in polar orbit at more than 17,000 mph. …
We all surely hope the tank was destroyed. I only wish President Reagan could have read the AP report.

This from Wikipedia:
The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) was a proposal by U.S. President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983[1] to use ground-based and space-based systems to protect the United States from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. …
And this from historian Paul Kengor:
…On March 23, 1983, Reagan announced SDI. “My fellow Americans, tonight we’re launching an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history,” he declared in a nationally televised address.

He announced his vision for a space-based missile-defense system—his “dream.” “With every ounce of my being,” he said later, “I pray the day will come when nuclear weapons no longer exist anywhere on Earth.” Reagan hoped SDI might one day “render nuclear weapons obsolete.” He also came to see it as an extraordinary weapon to help bankrupt the USSR.

Coming only two weeks after the Evil Empire speech and amid his push to place intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Western Europe, Reagan’s remarks left Moscow shell-shocked. SDI terrified the Soviets. It became an obsession to Mikhail Gorbachev, who spent entire summit sessions doing nothing but hysterically protesting SDI, begging Reagan not to go forward.

Leftists, however, had other plans. They dubbed the initiative “Star Wars,” a term popularized by Senator Ted Kennedy, who the morning after Reagan’s speech assailed the president’s “misleading Red-scare tactics and reckless Star Wars schemes.”

Kennedy had started something. “Star Wars” became a vehicle to lampoon SDI.

In the 1980s, the Left caricatured Reagan as a dawdling, nostalgic ex-actor who lazily wasted his time watching movies, losing himself in a world of fantasy.

Surely, suggested the ridiculers, the old fool must have gotten the idea for SDI from the movie “Star Wars,” envisioning himself as a kind of presidential Luke Skywalker combating the forces of darkness. As an amazing New York Times news story put it a week after the speech, SDI was “Mr. Reagan’s answer to the film ‘Star Wars.’”

If Kennedy had hoped to discredit the concept, he was making strides. His “Star Wars” term became extremely damaging, especially once the partisan press ran with it.

The media embrace of the term was evident in an exchange between Reagan and White House correspondent Helen Thomas:

Thomas: Mr. President, if you are flexible, are you willing to trade off research on “Star Wars”…or are you against any negotiations on “Star Wars”?

Reagan: Well, let me say, what has been called “Star Wars”—and, Helen, I wish whoever coined that expression would take it back again—

Thomas: Well, Strategic Defense—

Reagan: —because it gives a false impression of what it is we’re talking about.

Immediately after Reagan’s plea, Thomas continued: “May I ask you, then, if ‘Star Wars’—even if you don’t like the term, it’s quite popular….”

The term was popular because reporters used it. Reagan’s request was reasonable: the program’s name was the Strategic Defense Initiative. Objective reporters ought to be expected to use its proper name, not the name of derision invented by partisan detractors. (Yes, but when most reporters and their editors are Democrats. ... - JinC)

Reagan rightly feared that “Star Wars” suggested that he desired not a defensive system but an offensive war in space. It conjured “an image of destruction,” he said, when, in fact, “I’m talking about a weapon, non-nuclear…[that] only destroys other weapons, doesn’t kill people.”

Always kinder than his critics, Reagan charitably allowed that the media probably did not envision such a deleterious effect, instead using “Star Wars” merely “to denigrate the whole idea.” Privately, he told one friend that he “bristle[d]” each time the media used the label and complained to two others that the term was “never mine” but the media’s, “and now they saddle me with it.” ...

The Kremlin seized the term to further portray Reagan as a nuclear warmonger—an image that another set of dupes in the West, the nuclear freeze movement, reinforced. …
I doubt many MSM reporters will be asking Sen. Kennedy what he thinks of the Navy's missile hit.

I'll keep an eye out just in case my liberal/leftist newspaper, the Raleigh N&O, does.

Closing thoughts:

President Reagan wouldn't be taking any credit tonight.

He'd be congratulating the crew of the USS Lake Erie, the Navy and all others who helped make the missile hit possible.

He'd be reminding us of what we owed those serving in our military and their families.

And he'd express his pride in America.

America and the West could easily have gotten through the last half of the twentieth century without Teddy Kennedy. But we sure needed Ronald Reagan.

Here are: the entire AP story; the Wikipedia SDI entry; and Paul Kengor's article.