In late June, the U.S. Missile Defense agency conducted a successful test of THAAD, the Terminal High Area Defense system. THAAD is intended to provide the upper level of a multilayer defensive shield, with a lower-level defense provided by Patriot or a similar system. It is particularly intended as a defense against short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, although it also offers some capability against intercontinental missiles.
I don’t think Barack Obama would be much of a THAAD supporter. In this speech, he says he would cut investments in “unproven missile defense systems” and indeed seems pretty hostile to defense technology programs in general.
I guess THAAD counts as an “unproven technology,” given that it has not yet been combat-tested or even deployed. The radar-and-communications network that protected Britain from air attack during WWII was also an “unproven technology” when it was deployed: it is very fortunate that Neville Chamberlain, rather than Barack Obama, was Prime Minister of Britain at the time.
THAAD is a hit-to-kill system: it destroys its targets via force of impact, rather than with an explosive charge. This is basically “hitting a bullet with a bullet,” an idea that opponents of missile defense have long mocked.
An aerodynamicist once supposedly “proved” that it was impossible for bumblebees to fly; however, the bumblebee continues flying happily, unaware of the impossibility of its behavior. Similarly, THAAD “hits a bullet with a bullet,” not deterred by the supposed impossibility of this action.
Very clearly, “progressives”–and even many mainstream liberals–have long been hostile to the very idea of missile defense. They were hostile to it when the principal threat was from the Soviet Union, and they are hostile to it when the principal threat is from rogue states, terrorists, and a brutish theocracy. They were hostile to it when the latest thing in computer technology was the IBM System/370, and they are hostile to it several generations of technology later. It seems to really bother them that any system should be so presumptuous as to interpose itself between Americans–and citizens of allied nations–and those who would launch missiles at them.