33Minutes Under Attack

Yesterday at The Huffington Post, Lt. General Robert Gard Jr. (USA, Ret.) blasts The Heritage Foundation’s (unreleased) documentary 33Minutes, due out in February 2009.

After viewing the seven minute trailer, Gard fired-off a series of criticisms, each addressed below. Surely, it would have been prudent to wait until viewing the entire documentary, but none-the-less:

Criticism #1: Missile Defense will not protect against a terrorist with a nuclear weapon

The author highlights a quote from the trailor by Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Ambassador Joseph states, “my number one concern today is a terrorist with a nuclear weapon.” Gard argues that missile defense “won’t stop nuclear terrorism.”

Of course, missile defense cannot protect against a terrorism smuggling a suitcase bomb across the border…this we know, although it was nice for the General to remind us that there is an enemy that seeks to destroy the United States.

But lets discuss what missile defense is designed to do. With North Korea testing long-range missile engines and Iran continually improving on the range and design of their Shahab variants (for increased range), producing highly enriched uranium and likely to produce a nuclear weapon within the next few years, there are ample threats to be addressed, hardly fear mongering, as Gard claims.

The real fear is these rogue states transferring these weapons to non-state terrorists that would be more than happy to use them…and without fear of reprisal. Not only will these countries have missiles capable of reaching the U.S. in the near-term, they might not even need them. Many experts have warned about a missile attack on a major U.S. port or city, launched from a sea-faring vessel anchored just off-shore. Clearly, in this case, there is no need for a long-range missile, just one that works, which North Korea and Iran currently have.

Criticism #2: Heritage is guilty of fear-mongering without supplying the appropriate facts and context

The author’s second criticism attacks 33Minutes for asserting that over 20 countries have ballistic missile capabilities. While this is the absolute truth, Gard contends that there should be a discretionary note ***Most of these countries are our friends***. Sure, many are, and we are all warm and fuzzy about that…but missile defense is not solely for the protection of the homeland…it is also for the protection of our friends and allies. Furthermore, there is always a concern about rogue proliferators (Such as the notorious A.Q. Qhan) selling their deadly knowledge to the highest bidder (A.Q. Qhan was from Pakistan, not exactly an arch enemy of the United States).

In the trailer, recently retired Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), General Obering asserts that “we have already seen the transfer of very short-range rockets and missiles from a state to a terrorist organization.” Whether those missiles are mated with complex nuclear warheads, chemical, biological or a comparatively simplistic EMP device (electro-magnetic pulse), the consequences would be absolutely devastating.

Criticism #3: Heritage praises missile defense for things it cannot do.

Simply untrue. In fact, The Heritage Foundation is quite aware of what missile defense can and cannot do… Continue reading . . .


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