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Timeout on Missile defense

President Clinton has helped deflate an issue in the campaign and also, for now, in global politics. He's decided to let the next president decide whether to start deploying an antimissile defense system.

It was an easy decision. Two rocket tests of the proposed system failed this year, making it unlikely it could be deployed by 2005. US intelligence estimates that North Korea may be able to fire off a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile by that year.

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Peace diplomacy with North Korea seems to be working, and the US still needs to persuade Russia, China, and even its allies that switching from a cold-war strategy of "mutual assured destruction" to a defensive posture won't destabilize the balance of power.

Still, Al Gore and George W. Bush support different versions of the new system. Both would be wise to educate Americans on this important issue in national security. The final decision on whether to deploy won't be easy.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society