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A battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Image source: IDF)

A battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system. (Image source: IDF)

Critics of missile defense must have seen their whole multi-decade, multi-million dollar campaign to stop U.S. missile defenses in danger of crashing to the ground.

“All flight tests of the weapon have been rigged,” William Broad, New York Times, June 9, 2000.

The success of Iron Dome apparently gave lie to the repeated claims that missile defense tests are rigged; that missile defense systems cannot work; that they do not save lives, and that the threat of rocket attacks must be dealt with through appeasement and concessions.

Imagine that hundreds of armed terrorists from ISIS are in a secure sanctuary in northern Mexico. For nearly two months in 2015, they launch 4479 rockets into the United States. Their targets are schools, hospitals, apartment buildings and day-care centers in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Then imagine that not a single person is killed from this terrorist rocket barrage (although mortar fire at one border crossing kills two Americans).

Why are so few Americans harmed? A missile-defense system along America’s border with Mexico was able to shoot down over 90% of the incoming rockets that were engaged, while others could be ignored as they fell harmlessly into the southwestern American desert.

Further imagine that, say, Canada helped fund such a missile-defense. Americans would be thankful for the help of its Canadian brothers and sisters; cheer the defense industry that developed the missile-defense which, as President Reagan said in 1983, allows us to protect lives rather than avenge them; and they would thank God there were so few fatalities.

The media would tell a story of success; folks would move to support further defensive missile technology, and then tell their leaders go and find ISIS and destroy every last vestige of them.

The parallel to this is exactly what took place in the skies over Israel between July 6 and August 26, 2014.

The aggressor was not ISIS but its sister terrorist group, Hamas, which launched 4479 rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip.[1]

Ninety percent of the rockets launched by Hamas and engaged by the Iron Dome missile defense were destroyed. This defense technology was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense (although developed, built and used solely by Israel in 2012 in the first Gaza rocket war).

There were zero Israeli fatalities from Hamas’s rocket fire in areas defended by Iron Dome, although two Israelis perished and 30 Israelis were wounded, some seriously, from Hamas rockets not intercepted by Iron Dome.

News outlets such as the Wall Street Journal[2] and CNN lauded the Iron Dome’s success.[3]

Other 2014 articles echoed a similar story from Time magazine on the first use of Iron Dome in 2012: that Iron Dome was the “most effective, most tested missile shield the world has ever seen.”[4]

But then the story changed.

The Union of Concerned Scientists started the skeptical coverage on July 19, 2014 with a story purporting to reveal “The evidence that shows Iron Dome is not working.”[5]

Reuter’s David Axe followed up a week later with a story, complaining on July 25, 2014, “Israel’s Iron Dome is more like an iron sieve.”[6]

On July 31, 2014, the Middle East Monitor entitled a story “It is a lie to say that Iron Dome is Protecting Israelis from Hamas.” [7]

Two weeks later, August 12, 2014, reporter Dylan Scott asked, “For all the Hype, Does Israel’s Iron Dome Even Work?” [8]

What happened?

In America there is a strong anti-missile defense “industry.” Most of the organizations that subscribe to its views are either highly skeptical of missile defenses, or oppose them altogether. [9]

Most have also worked for many years to stop, delay, or defund American missile defense deployments, especially those designed to protect the continental United States as opposed to our allies or forces overseas.

In tracking the success of the Iron Dome, in 2006, before it existed, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, launched 4200 rockets at Israel; they killed 53 people.[10]

In 2012, when Iron Dome was initially deployed with five interceptor missile batteries, Hamas launched 1600 rockets at Israel; they caused five fatalities.

In 2014, Hamas launched 4479 rockets at Israel, which was protected by nine Iron Dome batteries. The rockets caused two fatalities — in an open area not protected by Iron Dome.

To compare: from 2006 to 2014, more rockets were fired at Israel than were launched by Nazi Germany against Great Britain in all of World War II. Yet Israel fatalities dropped from 53, to 5, to 2.

As noted by Uzi Rubin, founder and former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization (in Israel’s Ministry of Defense), in his September 12 briefing in Washington, D.C.[11], there were missile defense critics who seemed unhappy that Iron Dome appeared to work well.

Many critics of missile defense sometimes sound as if they assume that the proponents of missile defense want the U.S. to protect America all by itself — without the help of other nations — and without relying on arms control agreements with other countries. They thus described President George W. Bush’s 2002 plan to build national missile defenses in Alaska and California as a “go it alone” strategy.

But is such a charge true? Today, the American Missile Defense Agency [MDA] website features dozens of nations with which the U.S. cooperates in pursuing joint missile-defense objectives — precisely what missile defense critics complained was not being done.

Furthermore, simultaneously, from 2002-08 the Bush administration also significantly reduced nuclear weapons stockpiles with the Moscow Treaty between the U.S. and Russia, proving the compatibility of pursuing both missile defense and “working with others” on proliferation threats.

On July 19, 2004, for instance, former MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering noted in remarks to the Multinational Missile Defense Conference in Berlin, Germany,[12] three keys ways the US had been seeking international cooperation on missile defense during the Bush administration:

“That is why we emphasize in the Missile Defense Agency this simple axiom—geography counts. It matters where we locate the piece parts of the missile defense system. The role for our allies [emphasis added] here is obvious. Second, we need to present a united front to those who would seek to harm us with ballistic missiles. Our ability to deter attacks and dissuade other governments from investing in ballistic missiles will be significantly enhanced if we can speak through our alliances, friendships, and coalitions with a single voice. Third, cooperation means pooling our intellectual and financial resources.” [Emphasis added].

* * *

According to Uzi Rubin[13], the aforementioned press reports relied on amateur videos and photographs of the missile intercepts over Israel, as well as on an examination of pictures of the “smoke contrails” of the Iron Dome interceptor and Hamas rocket explosions.[14]

Written By: PETER HUESSY – continue reading at GATESTONE INSTITUTE