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March 27, 2013

A victory for missile defense

Kim Jong Un has done the near-impossible. The newly minted supreme leader of North Korea has forced the Obama administration to admit that the United States needs more missile defense.

Opposition to missile defense constitutes one of the most treasured books of the Democratic arms-control gospel. Since it was introduced by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, Democrats have reflexively denounced the idea of a defense against incoming ballistic missiles as wholly unworkable, impossibly expensive, and dangerously destabilizing. Much better to leave ourselves exposed and work to sweet-talk our enemies out of their hostility and their weapons.

In keeping with this approach, upon taking office the Obama administration promptly nixed additional interceptors planned for deployment on the West Coast against the budding North Korean missile threat. George W. Bush had already put 30 interceptors at two sites on the West Coast, a symptom of his "Cold War mindset" that the supple and sophisticated Obama administration had no use for.

As it turns out, it is North Korea that truly has the Cold War - or perhaps worse - mindset. In the words of new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Pyongyang has "made advances in its capabilities and has engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations." It conducted a third nuclear test, apparently a successful one. It put a satellite in orbit with a Taepodong-2 missile. It displayed what appeared to be a road-mobile ICBM.

While threatening to "miserably destroy" U.S. units in South Korea and turn that country's capital into a "nuclear sea of fire," Pyongyang has vowed that North Koreans "will be exercising our right to pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the aggressor," which is, of course, none other than the United States.

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