Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

November 21, 2012

Scout Report: The Iron Dome, Reagan vindicated

CROSSVILLE — In March 1983, President Reagan proposed plans for the Strategic Defense Initiative, a concept that was deemed purely science fiction by critics, but has since been proven to be highly effective in saving lives. The Strategic Defense Initiative offered bold vision to defeat future threats from an increasingly dangerous world. Specifically, Reagan envisioned a defense system that could nullify the threat of nuclear missiles launched against the United States and its allies by intercepting them before they could reach their intended target. Faced with the realization that deterrence  would not always be a successful strategy, the president sought to develop a backup system that would act as a fail-safe. The plan was nicknamed “Star Wars” by critics who sought to marginalize the idea as mere wishful thinking. The ability to intercept inbound projectiles was thought to be impossible, or at the least would be prohibitive due to enormous costs associated with developing the technology. 

To be sure, SDI was expensive. Over 10 years, the program spent $25 billion on research and testing. By today’s standards, however, that number does not seem very significant–Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties, and American consumers spend $25 billion per year on beer.

Costly as it may have been at the time, the research and testing that went into SDI helped Israel develop a shield against aggressors known as the Iron Dome, which has recently proven invaluable. The Iron Dome was conceived after the 2006 war with Lebanon, when nearly 4,000 Hezbollah missiles killed 44 civilians in northern Israel. Five batteries were deployed last year to protect Israel’s most vulnerable areas. In the past week Hamas launched 846 missiles into Israel over a four day period, 302 of which were intercepted. While that doesn’t sound like a very effective system, it is paramount to note that the Iron Dome intentionally ignores missiles fired at uninhabited areas. The system actually succeeded in intercepting 90 percent of the missiles it targeted.

President Reagan’s vision of the future fueled technological advances that could prove to be Israel’s only saving grace in a time when so many would like nothing more than to erase the country from the map.

This week America celebrates a holiday that predates the birth of our nation. It is a time to give thanks for the many blessings that we have received. For many people, the past few years have been a struggle. It’s easy to overlook the good things in our lives when so much bad is happening. This may seem like a strange way to write about Thanksgiving, but in times like these, it’s important to remember who we are and where we live. Even our homeless population and those less fortunate have something to be thankful for. They are Americans. America has been blessed in that each and every one of us have security that the majority of the world does not enjoy. Consider what it’s like living in Israel, when everyday you face the possibility of extinction–where everyday could be the last for, not only you, but for everyone and everything that you love.

So as you sit down for dinner on Thursday, be truly thankful for what you have, love those around you and pray for those less fortunate. Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless.

• • •

Clinton Gill is editor of the Glade Sun. His column is published weekly. He may be reached at cgill@crossville-chronicle.com.

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