Ostensibly, the operation was a $60 million means of keeping the world safe from the "potentially toxic" contents of the satellite's fuel tank. In reality, the move was a chance for the Pentagon to test George Bush's version of Star Wars. New toys are hard to resist, especially when other kids are flaunting their own. Back when the Chinese blew up their own satellite, you could hear the Pentagon pouting, 'How come all the cool toys come out in the far east first?'
But, now that they've showed off their toy a bit, the Pentagon's strutting. "The operation speaks for itself," said Gates. Problem is, it doesn't.
Gail Collins' Op-Ed in the New York Times, a nice lampoon of the whole adventure, raised doubts over whether or not this bit of muscle flexing proved anything, writing:
Before it fired at the satellite Wednesday night, the military was hesitating about making a shot, citing the possibility of “choppy seas.” Cynics who asked whether this means the nation’s quadrillion-dollar missile defense system only works when the weather is calm were told to stop being ridiculous.
Offering a possible alternative to the original toxic gas excuse (gas which “If you stay very close to it and inhale a lot of it, it could in fact be deadly" -- Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Collins suggested another:
The Pentagon is afraid the supersecret satellite will fall into the hands of our enemies, revealing the sophisticated new technology that conked out shortly after leaving Earth and utterly failed to accomplish its mission.
Adding to the childish nature of the affair, both China and the U.S. have accused the other of treading dangerous ground, risking an arms race in outer space.
It doesn't take a Harvard man to see that an arms race is already underway. I'm pretty sure spending billions of dollars every year on a missile defense system qualifies. As if there wasn't enough nonsense on earth, the U.S. and the Chinese are taking it extraterrestrial.
If a Dem gets elected, missile defense should be among the first programs to get the axe. A debtor nation in a recession, hell, even one in good economic health, can find better ways to spend its coin.