- - Tuesday, February 14, 2017


The rogues are restless. The mischief of the bullies doesn’t flag from one administration to the next. Projectiles light up the sky from remote launch pads in far-off places, and where there are missiles, there must be a reliable, extensive shield against them.

North Korea shattered the congenial atmosphere of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago by test-firing a ballistic missile early Sunday. The missile fell harmlessly into the Sea of Japan, but prompted condemnation by South Korea and Japan for its provocative nature. There was a breathed sigh of relief that the rocket was not an intercontinental missile with a range capable of reaching the United States, which North Korea has been promising to conduct for months.

Pyongyang’s incremental improvements to its missile capability over the years has earned repeated warnings from the United Nations, without effect. Kim Jong-un considers the source and obviously doesn’t take the warnings seriously. He continues work on projects of nuclear weapon proficiency and ballistic missile development. The regime has perfected the nukes, and comes closer to achieving intercontinental ballistic capability with each missile test. The end game is a nuclear weapon able to hit enemies, real and imagined, across the globe.

The United States is working with South Korea to place top-of-the-line Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense in South Korea, designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles, and if it hits an incoming nuclear missile, won’t detonate the warhead. President Park Geun hye had agreed to accept the system. Her impeachment and removal from office last year threatens that arrangement, but Ban Ki-Moon, the presidential front-runner and the former U.N. secretary-general, has endorsed deployment. Japan, vulnerable due to geography, is considering installing the THAAD system. China objects, so far to no avail.

Competing with North Korea in rogues behaving badly, Iran has ramped up its missile tests as a direct challenge to President Trump. The Islamic regime tested a ballistic missile shortly after Mr. Trump took office in January, prompting Michael Flynn, who would become a top aide to the president until he abruptly resigned Monday night, to announce that the president would “officially put Iran on notice.” A second test last week was answered by a presidential tweet: “Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”

As rogue nations creep closer to the day their nuclear dreams become reality, the president is wise to show resolve in resisting intimidation. But beyond bluster, he should follow through on the intent of the 2017 National Defense and Authorization Act, which calls for the completion of a layered missile defense capable of defending the entire nation. Israel saved countless lives last week when its Iron Dome missile shield intercepted three projectiles fired from its enemies in Sinai before they could hit their targets.

Winston Churchill was right that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.” Jawing, however, has yet to deter the North Koreans and Iranians as they develop the means to bring on Doomsday. The time to build a reliable shield is before Doomsday, not in the ruins of that awful day.

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