Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said the U.S. military should have weapons in space to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The idea to militarize space was first explored by the Ronald Reagan administration and was widely known as the “Star Wars” program.
During the Fox News debate Ted Cruz was asked if he was president today, how would he react to the news that North Korea is setting up its nuclear weapons for a pre-emptive attack.
Cruz said the US should be ready with missile defense and “space based weapons” to counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The weapons, he argued, would stop missiles before they would reenter the atmosphere.
Cruz’s response is based on Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars program.
The Star Wars program, also known as Strategic Defense Initiative, was a program explored by President Ronald Reagan in an effort to move away from the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine to a more strategic defense doctrine.
The MAD doctrine was based on the idea that if one nation, such as Russia, were to launch a nuclear attack on the US, the US would have second strike capability (the ability to retaliate with its nuclear arsenal). The outcome of a nuclear attack on the US would be the destruction of both countries, hence the phrase Mutually Assured Destruction.
MAD created a balance between nuclear countries. But Ronald Reagan wanted to solidify the US as the world power by eliminating MAD as a nuclear deterrence and replacing it with the Star Wars program.
Some critics of the Star Wars program were concerned that it would spark an arms race in space. Other critics believed it would cause Russia to attack the US with nuclear weapons before the MAD doctrine became irrelevant.
Ted Cruz’s plan to bring back the Star Wars program should spark a much bigger debate. Should we militarize outer space?
To be clear, Cruz’s plan would effectively eliminate any threat to the US from North Korea. But it would also eliminate threats from Russia and China. How these countries would react, knowing the balance of power is about to tip towards the US, is anybody’s guess.