In the fall of 2006, I sat around a table with 15 or so Northwestern University students and University President Henry Bienen as part of an American Studies seminar on Foreign Policy. To much disbelief, I suggested that the "Star Wars" program was in the process of seeing a new light pointing out that while the world scoffed, yearly funding for what had become the Missile Defense System was on the rise in the face of increasingly successful implementation and testing. I suggested that the completion of a defense system would have significant impact on the balance of power and future discussions of non-proliferation, and the distribution of long range weapons. No one (all very intelligent people, and smarter than myself), including President Bienen, thought much of my comments.
Today, President Bush was given the opportunity to make a statement that few seem to appreciate. Whether or not the defunct spy satellite's fuel tank posed a truly significant threat to humans on the ground, the admittedly high price tag for its man-made destruction in space was well worth it. The message is clear and while lost on the domestic masses, is clearly heard by the world. The missile defense system is a reality. Once again, the United States foots the bill for world stability, and it remains a much better prospect to be an ally, than a foe.
Interestingly, this evening the story has largely dropped from the news. The earth shattering significance of this event has been left to the historians.