Brookes ‘8 (Peter, Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at The Heritage Foundation. He is also a member of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, Heritage, Why the World Still Needs America's Military Might, November 24th 2008)
The United States military has also been a central player in the attempts to halt weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile proliferation. In 2003, President Bush created the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an initiative to counter the spread of WMD and their delivery systems throughout the world. The U.S. military's capabilities help put teeth in the PSI, a voluntary, multilateral organization of 90-plus nations which uses national laws and joint military operations to fight proliferation. While many of the PSI's efforts aren't made public due to the potential for revealing sensitive intelligence sources and methods, some operations do make their way to the media. For instance, according to the U.S. State Department, the PSI stopped exports to Iran's missile program and heavy water- related equipment to Tehran's nuclear program, which many believe is actually a nuclear weapons program. In the same vein, the United States is also developing the world's most prodigious-ever ballistic missile defense system to protect the American homeland, its deployed troops, allies, and friends, including Europe. While missile defense has its critics, it may provide the best answer to the spread of ballistic missiles and the unconventional payloads, including the WMD, they may carry. Unfortunately, the missile and WMD proliferation trend is not positive. For instance, 10 years ago, there were only six nuclear weapons states. Today there are nine members of the once-exclusive nuclear weapons club, with Iran perhaps knocking at the door. Twenty-five years ago, nine countries had ballistic missiles. Today, there are 28 countries with ballistic missile arsenals of varying degrees. This defensive system will not only provide deterrence to the use of these weapons, but also provide policymakers with a greater range of options in preventing or responding to such attacks, whether from a state or non-state actor. Perhaps General Trey Obering, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, said it best when describing the value of missile defense in countering the growing threat of WMD and delivery system proliferation: "I believe that one of the reasons we've seen the proliferation of these missiles in the past is that there has historically been no defense against them."