After 24 years and more than $100 billion spent to develop a U.S. missile defense, an American-operated system proposed for Europe would cost billions more to deploy and still may fail, a series of independent reports concludes.Sounds bad, doesn't it? If you read through the article you'll see some pro and con views on BMD, but one of the cons is from the Union of Concern Scientists, which opposes missile defense on ideological grounds, and would almost certainly oppose deploying a system even if it was proven 100% effective. So their objections can be easily dismissed. The last word is given to a damning quote from physicist Richard Garwin:
because it can be so easily defeated by decoys, the "system is not worth deploying, because it will be useless."
When otherwise smart people make such stupid comments, you have to question their motives. How about we work on improving it so that it can't be easily defeated by decoys?
Some of the main criticisms of missile defense are intellectually dishonest or just plain unreasonable. Pretty much everyone agrees that BMD requires some of the most complex military systems every devised. The idea that we are going to be able to develop, purely through testing, anything like a fully effective system is just crazy. Military systems don't work that way. Prototypes have to be built, changes have to made. Sometimes after you build them they don't work right at all. Many of the critics are not interested in building effective BMD. They just want to block it entirely.
We will never have effective BMD until we deploy a full system and start extensively testing and modifying it based on actual conditions. Yes it will be extremely expensive. And yes, there is a chance that it may never achieve the results we want from it. It may have to be rebuilt, and almost certainly will have to be massively re-engineered, modified, and constantly updated. But if we don't deploy an actual complete system, we will never have effective BMD. At some point limited testing has to translate into actual deployment. We should reject the idea that we can't deploy until it is ready for action -- because it never will be. It will always need further testing.
Where the critics are correct is that we need to carefully monitor the Pentagon and associated contractors, push for more realistic testing, and expose overly optimistic propaganda that makes grandiose claims based on limited, controlled testing. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that any newly deployed system is going to be truly effective. Instead we should regard these new systems as first-generation prototypes that are very unlikely to work as advertised.