Missile Defense Debate

In correspondence with John Dougherty

March 2001

Mary Beth Sullivan

When I read the article shared through globenet by John Dougherty I felt I had to respond. It might be of interest to read the exchange between myself and Mr. Dougherty.

The original article was published by WorldNetDaily: "Missile defense to include laser weapons" http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=22213 on March 29, 2001.

---- Original Message -----
From: Mary Beth Sullivan
To: jdougherty@worldnetdaily.com
Sent: Friday, March 30, 2001 9:55 PM
Subject: Missile Defense Article

In your March 29 article on missile defense, you state the following: Such a system would enable missiles to be destroyed during their "boost phase" -- or, shortly after they take off -- while still over an enemy's territory. If the missiles are carrying nuclear, chemical or biological warheads, the fallout would then be showered on citizens of the enemy state, rather than innocent parties or Americans.

I added the italics. Surely I'm reading an editing error. You can't possibly mean to say that the children of any country on this planet could be considered fair game as recipient of chemical, biological or nuclear fallout simply because they live in an "enemy state." Of course they are innocent -- just as the adult and elderly citizens of the state would be.

Please reassure me that you did not mean to say that citizens living in a nation whose government is suicidal enough to launch a missile deserve the fallout.

Perhaps you should provide some coverage of the global organizations working to stop the weaponization and militarization of space. Cover the moral implications of the US Space Command's visions. There is another side to this story. When will it be told??

Visit www.space4peace.org
Mary Beth Sullivan
Gainesville, Florida

His reply:

Ms. Sullivan:

I understand where you're coming from, but at the risk of sounding cold here, I'd rather it not be my children or yours that dies at the hands of some lunatic government.

In a perfect world, of course no "innocents" would be killed because there would be no idiots in charge of ever-more-powerful arsenals that have a "problem" with the U.S.

But we don't live in a perfect world, so it is imperative that we, in this nation, move past the emotionally-based "don't hurt anyone" argument and saddle ourselves with a huge dose of reality.

Killing is never a good thing, I agree - but defending our country is not only good public policy, but a moral obligation we entrust our leaders to fulfill. Surely you can understand that.

I cover much in the way of military technology/news, et al; take my word for this: we have mucho enemies "out there" who would love to kill you, me, our children, and just about every other living thing in our country. When they get the means to do that, and are reasonably certain they can succeed, they will attack us.

If my government can prevent those attacks by developing weapons and defenses that will assure the enemy's destruction and not ours, that is when the world as a whole will be much safer.

Nations that don't much care for us are not attacking us now because they realize they can't and win...that is a tenuous situation at best, but we can only guarantee that we can all live if we make our policy and defense based on the guarantee that if we're attacked, the "offending nation" will cease to exist. That keeps them honest and corralled, and it keeps all of us alive.

We don't have to like this, but that's the way it is and the way it has always been.

Thx;
Jon E. Dougherty
Reporter/Columnist; WorldNetDaily.com

I then responded to him, and he responded by intermingling his sentiments with mine.

Mary Beth:

Mr Dougherty,

So you're telling me I was not reading an editing error. You DO support a "defense" system that could wipe out any or every innocent civilian in an entire nation -- and any other nation that happens to be downwind, or upwind or anywhere else the fallout may land.

Jon:

No, I'm telling you what I told you the first time - that I support a defensive system that will protect MY children and YOUR children from such fallout. Don't read your own interpretation into what I write...I say what I mean and mean what I say. If some lunatic overseas wants to launch a weapon capable of killing MY children and YOUR children, you bet your boots I want a system in place to protect them. At that point in time, I figure we have a decision to make - "us or them." You may not like that decision, Ms. Sullivan, but please don't tell me you wouldn't choose "us" because I'm afraid I wouldn't believe that.

Mary Beth:

Of course you must understand how morally corrupt this "policy" or "strategy" is. To be honest, the fallout of such a system is that our grandchildren will come to see our own government as the true "lunatic."

Jon:

How morally corrupt is it to leave our own people at risk, Ms. Sullivan??

C'mon - you're thinking with your heart, not your head.

Mary Beth:

How blind is the leadership who sees that the only way to feel secure in an insecure world is to create fancier, more expensive, more "modern" weapons systems.

Jon:

Not blind at all, but instead a leadership with foresight and vision. These threats are real, Ms. Sullivan - they're not some fantasy idea held by a couple of crackpots. If we have the technology to build a system that protects US, then we should do it post-haste (and we do, by the way...).

Only lunatics would leave us unprotected when the means to protect us were available but not used. Think of it this way: As a parent, would you elect NOT to protect your kids from a known threat if you had the means to protect them (but said, "No, I don't want to use that means because...[fill in the blank]?" I doubt it; to do so would be irresponsible.

Mary Beth:

I've listened to the voices of the many who have felt the impact of these military technologies you "cover" in your reporting. You have to combine the annual military budgets of the next fifteen nations in order to match what the US spends each year on its "Defense" Department. We have no military competitor in the world. The fears that someone will become a competitor drives the arms race.

Jon:

Yes, indeedy, we do spend a bunch on defense, and agreed, not all of that expenditure is "well-spent." Much is wasted. But you're wrong on two things:

1) Yes, we DO have competitor nations (and getting stronger by the year); and

2) Ask yourself this question - when the world goes to heck in a handbasket, who gets the FIRST call for help? That's right - we do.

Should we not respond? Wouldn't that be "morally corrupt?" Ms. Sullivan, you cannot have it both ways - either we stand up for the righteous or we don't; and if we do, we'd better be prepared to impose our will or the desired result won't be achieved. That's not a "military writer" speaking - that's the military vet in me speaking.

Mary Beth:

Let's both agree on this reality: the "defensive" ballistic missile systems are in fact, in truth, in reality -- offensive systems. Read the US Space Command's literature. It expresses its clear intention for control and domination. Giving that much power to any nation is unconscionable.

Jon:

No, we can't "agree" on that because that isn't the reality. I don't know what you're reading, but I've read ALL of the info on these systems; there is simply no way to construe them as being "offensive" in nature. Secondly, who would you rather "give that much power to" - our nation, or a competitor nation? Again, I say, there are countries out there who are just aching for the chance to become stronger than we; when/if they do, I dare say, Ms. Sullivan, there will be nothing "compassionate" about it, your feelings on the subject notwithstanding.

You have to understand - not every people or every nation think like we do.

Mary Beth:

Giving that much power to a nation that is willing to kill anything and everything in order to "destroy an enemy" is a great moral danger. (I remember Adolf Hitler.)

Jon:

OK, now you've gone off the deep end; comparing our government to that of Adolph Hitler's government is beyond absurd. Who is the first country - the FIRST, Ms. Sullivan - that is there *on the ground,* willing to help and contribute, when some other nation is getting the bejesus kicked out of them? That'd be us, ma'am - the United States. Hitler didn't do that, remember? He conquored nations; he didn't coddle and help them. Please.

Mary Beth:

Note especially that the US Space Command's objective is to protect US "interests" -- especially our "economic" interests. They're talking about offense -- not defense, my friend. The US plans to decide who controls the oil, the land, the markets.

Jon:

No, ma'am, they are not. Our economic interests and national security are continually being threatened; simply by the nature of having our interests threatened FIRST ought to tell you that we'd then be on the *defense,* right? Not the "offense." Now, if we know about a threat beforehand and must take offensive action to thwart it before it harms us, would you not support that? Also, consider the most recent years of "offensive" action by the U.S. - how many times have we taken care to ensure that only military (not civilian) targets are hit/destroyed? It doesn't always work out that way, but simply by making the effort, how can you insist that we're not at least as compassionate as we can be in protecting our own interests?

What about the Palestinians - do they seem to much care who they blow up/shoot/maim? Get my drift? There is a definite difference between behavior, ma'am.

Mary Beth:

It is naive to insist that the US military is worried about an attack on our soil from any other nation -- (except by a terrorist and his suitcase bomb.)

Jon:

No, it is naive beyond imagination to believe that we're not being targeted for same. And, it would be irresponsible for our leaders NOT to worry about this because every day this reality gets closer (World Trade Center; Olympics bombings; Oklahoma City; USS Cole; U.S. embassies in Africa - any of these ring a bell?).

Mary Beth:

You want a national defense policy? Get rid of the fears. You want to get rid of the fears?? Build a nice, long, round wooden table. Sit at it with your "enemies" and build the relationships that puts at the center the needs of the citizens of this world. It's usually the LAST step in war and conflict, anyway. Why wait?

Jon:

Ms. Sullivan, again I say, your compassion is commendable but your grasp of reality isn't. You act like the United States is the villain here, and I resent that - you act as though our leaders would rather fight than talk, just because they're concerned about threats to this country and want to build systems to protect it. That's just absurd; have we not spent time trying to "talk" to our enemies? If we shot first and asked questions later,

1) there would NOT have been a "Cold War," just a hot one with lots of casualties;

2) China would already be dust;

3) North Korea would already be dust;

4) Iran would already be dust....and so on...

Mary Beth:

It's long past the time to change the ways of wars.

Jon:

Unfortunately, sometimes they simply cannot be avoided. Many times they can - witness the haphazardness of military use during the Clinton years - most without merit and none as a result of actually protecting vital U.S. interests.

Mary Beth:

And, the ways of reporting. You're obviously not an objective reporter. You're a military advocate. Your byline should indicate so.

Jon:

It's dangerous to assume things about people, Ms. Sullivan, so you shouldn't do it. If anything, I'm an advocate of realism; you ought to try it sometime. You won't like what you see, but then again you won't live your life in this bubble and not so much will catch you off guard.

Thx for writing. - Jon



Home Page