US President Donald Trump laid out his administration's Missile Defense Review during a speech at the Pentagon on Thursday local time, declaring the US will develop a more advanced defense system to counter hypersonic and cruise missile threats from competitors and adversaries.
Trump also said the US will do whatever it takes "to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime, any place."
The Missile Defense Review makes clear the system will be aimed at protecting the US against existing threats from North Korea and Iran, and countering advanced weaponry developed by Russia and China.
Today, US missile defense systems have a greater presence in many countries and regions. Chinese and Russian targets are within its range, a vital component of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system found in neighboring countries. Additionally, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (aka Sea-Based Midcourse) is connected to THAAD, helping to make it even more efficient.
Analysts have said that the US defense systems can act as a form of insurance against small-scale missile attacks from North Korea and Iran, but their Achilles' heel will be revealed when confronted with dense missile strikes from China or Russia. The development of Chinese and Russian hypersonic missiles will be a threat for US defense systems.
Since the beginning, when "Star Wars" was launched during the Reagan era, the US government has focused on developing anti-missile defense systems at various degrees of importance. Throughout, the project has functioned as a form of psychological deterrence while having a political influence in creating closer alliances with deploying nations.
Missile defense and other systems are the modern equivalents to spears and shields. While technological progress is balanced, with the development of technology interception, offensive tactics have grown simultaneously. Attack missiles are flexible and can travel unexpectedly, unlike a defense mechanism, which will always win favor in any competition.
The purpose behind this latest US defense upgrade is to eliminate the possibility of mutually assured destruction, a Cold War-era principle followed tacitly by nuclear weapon states. It is to make itself the only country with nuclear capabilities that could destroy a nation while simultaneously making itself immune from foreign nuclear weapon strikes. Overall, it would give the US a unique strategic advantage against adversarial threats.
For the US, whether missile interception is successful or not, is not the main priority. Instead, it looks forward to garnering diplomatic advantages through the deployment of the system. Since intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) loaded with nuclear warheads have the capability to annihilate civilization, the US is aware its missile defense systems will never be used.
Domestic approval, foreign sentiments, and the effect such a plan would have on Trump's approval ratings are the real questions to consider.
Should Washington actually follow through, no other power in the world would be able to stop it. The US has already threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. In paradoxical US fashion, they accuse China of developing an advanced missile program while preparing to release a new missile defense plan of its own. Thursday's announcement serves as a declaration that the US is now leading a missile defense systems race.
However, there is practically zero hope the US could ever become an entirely secure nation, one that would possess the freedom to attack major powers like Russia and China. Security is meant to be interrelated among all nations, and it cannot belong solely to the US at the expense of other countries. Regardless of budget, the US will never be satisfied with "security hegemony," an unprecedented goal that has never been attained throughout human civilization. The US will remain at a great distance from this goal.
The widening chasm that exists between the US and the world is not rooted in their technological advances as they would like for everyone to think, but can be found within its lack of sincerity when it comes to making positive contributions or easing global tension.
US missile defense systems are nothing more than attempts at keeping up appearances. They provide Washington the chance to flex their muscles on the global stage. This latest missile defense system will neither discourage Russia or China, nor benefit the US in negotiations with North Korea and Iran. It seems the real purpose of any US missile defense system is nothing more than a tool used by White House leaders to help fool the American public.