Of all the species on this tiny planet only humans can create evil and in the last half-century of the last millennium we have worked hard to build the trophy of the apocalypse, we have perfected the ultimate evil: nuclear weapons.
The bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima were infants. Today a terrorist state that can copy an American W78 Ballistic Missile Warhead and drop it on Harrisburg would blow every living thing from York to State College, between Reading and Chambersburg to kingdom come. The W78 has twenty times the blast power of the 1945 bombs. Dauphin, York and Northumberland counties would be wasted and depending which way the wind was blowing more than 6 million Pennsylvanians would be praying for the mercy of a quick death. Within days anyone left alive from Johnstown to Scranton would be slowly choking to death from Strontium-90 poisoning while those afflicted by Cesium gasses would begin to agonize as their vital organs turned to gel.
But that’s a silly notion. Why would a rogue nation, a crazed military commander or terrorist that controlled a nuclear missile target an obscure city like Harrisburg? He probably wouldn’t. But if his targeting calculations were off by 10 minutes or so Pennsylvania’s capital becomes ground zero. At 800 miles an hour in sub-space orbit if Washington or New York were the primary target of an inter-continental ballistic missile sloppy math could land Armageddon somewhere between Lancaster and Union counties.
While Central Pennsylvanians are slowly dying they can savor the ashes of the victory that will burn in their mouths. With an arsenal of more than 9,000 active nuclear weapons the U.S. Government will incinerate the enemy. That is: if we know who they are and where they are. With stealth technology, low orbit launches and diversionary tactics we may not even know where the bomb came from. Of course from, how or why won’t matter or what revenge was taken when you hold your children in your arms trying to stop the bleeding from every pore on their body while they are choking to death on the poisoned air they are breathing.
But trying to placate the Russian government, Clinton administration opponents of missile defense systems deny that this kind of attack can happen. Stuck in the mutual assured destruction theories of the cold war they refuse to envision a day when a desperate dictator with a last chance takes a shot at holding America hostage. In the final week so of the collapse of Berlin would Hitler have hesitated to take out London, Washington or Moscow if he could have? Didn’t Iraq send 31 body bags home, most of them to Pennsylvania with a primitive tin can rocket called a scud?
Delaware County Congressman Curt Weldon has joined a group that should know the dangers of nuclear bombs all over the globe. In December 1995, 71 retired senior military commanders from NATO and The Warsaw Pact signed a declaration of independence from nuclear war and challenged the ethics of mass civilian destruction as a strategic military doctrine.
They Generals were ignored; Weldon simply refuses to be. Recently The Washington Post described Weldon as the one man ‘pit-bull’ of the missile defense doctrine in the United States. Opponents of a strategic missile defense shield describe Weldon as a paranoid pawn of the defense industry, a dreamer, hell-spent on spending defense dollars on a bogus dream. Star Wars reborn, as much a fantasy as the movie.
But those that scoff at the dream of a US Nuclear Shield run the risk of creating our worst national nightmare. With an opening price tag of $60 billion a strategic missile defense system is expensive and Weldon and his fellow dreamers like Democrat John Murtha of Johnstown should figure that the estimates are probably off by half. They are pricing a concept and the numbers will get big in a hurry if we proceed to attempt to build the shield.
But counting real dollars instead of concepts makes a difference. Suppose a strategic missile shield will cost double the current estimates. At $120 billion that’s about 2 bucks a week from every American taxpayer for the next ten years. Then consider everything else the government of the United States wastes money on and look your children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them its not worth it.
With lousy American security at our central nuclear bomb lab, former Soviet nuclear scientists up for auction in the middle east and every terrorist dujour dreaming of a bomb they can call the “New Yorker” for two bucks a week we can only pray that the rest of Washington listens to Curt Weldon and hope that the protection he champions can deliver us from our own evil.