August 27th, 2009
On a recent trip to Thailand, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton re-affirmed U.S. support for helping our allies defend themselves against Iran. She said we will offer a “defense umbrella” to those facing threats from the rogue state. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Ilan Berman And Clifford D. May want to know whether the U.S. is even capable of providing that kind of protection. An excerpt:
“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems since the collapse of the Soviet Union means that any “defense umbrella” will require the deployment of missile defense technologies capable of neutralizing a potential salvo of nuclear-tipped missiles—whether from Iran or another rogue such as North Korea.
“Yet America’s missile-defense efforts are being scaled back. Congress is contemplating a $1.4 billion reduction to the Pentagon’s budget for antimissile capabilities.”
Are President Barack Obama and his secretary of state on the same page? As the authors note, George Bush’s missile defense efforts didn’t go far enough, yet Obama wants to scale back even more. Cuts from the missile defense budget would eliminate programs and reduce others. As we’ve mentioned, the Multiple Kill Vehicle program would be eliminated, and interceptors in Alaska and California would be reduced to 30, down from 44.
The authors note that both sides of the political aisle need to be in agreement when it comes to missile defense. Enemies rightfully see these disagreements and Obama’s proposed cuts as signs of discord and weakness.
“U.S. missile-defense policy should be designed to elicit the opposite response,” write Berman and May. “Our enemies and competitors should be forced to conclude that energy and funds spent developing nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them will be wasted because Americans have the know-how and hardware to prevent them from reaching their intended targets.”
The U.S. should be giving off strong and determined vibes, sending a signal to Iran that its nuclear ambitions and threats are futile.
June 16th, 2009
Jim Talent and Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation make the case that President Barack Obama’s budget cuts will reshape the U.S. military as we know it.
“If Congress ultimately gives the Administration what it wants,” they write, “America’s armed forces will lose capabilities that its leaders and citizens have come to take for granted.”
Capabilities like strategic defense, control of the seas, and air superiority will be lost. With rogue countries determined to acquire nuclear weapons, the timing couldn’t be worse. The administration proposes to cut $1.4 billion from missile defense. The Airborne Laser boost-phase program and the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor, as well as the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, would be cut. Last week, Alaska governor Sarah Palin said, “Reducing Alaska’s defense readiness in these perilous times is a show of weakness, it is not a sign of strength…And yet, Washington thinks it’ best now to actually cut defense spending in Alaska by hundreds of millions of dollars. Now that is an odd priority there.”
Odd, indeed. The president has already made it clear that he is not committed to building missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. Talent and Eaglen say liberals’ opposition to strong missile defense was understandable during the Cold War. It’s dangerously behind the times now.
“[T]he Cold War has been over for nearly 20 years, and missile defense today is a clear tool for peace. In fact, it may be the only stabilizing tool available to prevent a global nuclear arms race. As the ballistic missile programs of North Korea and Iran continue to mature, America must invest in a comprehensive, multi-layered missile defense system to stay ahead of the technology curve–instead of deemphasizing and restructuring the program for a more a constrained vision of what the future may hold.”
Read the rest at Heritage.org.
June 10th, 2009
Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and former vice-presidential candidate, criticized the Obama administration’s defense cuts to Alaska’s defense program. The president intends to reduce missile interceptors in Alaska and California from 44 to 30.
Palin said, “Reducing Alaska’s defense readiness in these perilous times is a show of weakness, it is not a sign of strength…And yet, Washington thinks it’s best now to actually cut defense spending in Alaska by hundreds of millions of dollars. Now that is an odd priority there.”
Palin is hardly alone in criticizing defense cuts. Republican members of Congress have been speaking publicly and publishing op-eds in mainstream publications. Between the president’s lukewarm support for strong missile defense and his unnerving tendency to want to hold talks with rogue nations, it’s no wonder North Korea has resolved to continue nuclear tests and missile launches.
While the president downplays the threat and cuts funding, North Korea is more determined than ever to launch missiles. Aviation Week reports that North Korea is preparing more launches. In fact, the rogue state has threatened war if other countries perform the duty of searching North Korean ships for contraband. An excerpt:
“The latest predictions point to additional medium-range, Rodong-class missile firings from North Korea’s Anbyon base on the east coast and a long-range missile (larger than the Taepodong-2) launch from Dongchangri on the northwest coast near the border with China…U.S. officials contend that international agitation and the threat of conflict is North Korea’s only tool to promote the country’s relevance and that Pyongyang doesn’t want war.”
Is it wise to base policy on what we think North Korea may or may not want?
(Source: Political Ticker and Aviation Week)
June 8th, 2009
While Republicans in Congress understand the threat North Korea poses as it boldly launches missiles and conducts nuclear tests, Democrats seem to think North Korea merely is tossing pebbles at a lion.
The point is not whether the rogue nation will hit us with a nuclear weapon, though that’s a possibility we’d do well to keep in mind. The point is that North Korea is ready, willing, and able to defy the world despite the consequences.
“The fact that North Korea and Iran are continuously seeking both nuclear capability and long-term missile capability should cause the administration to pause on its characterization of the threats and their focus on [spending] cuts,” Republican Rep. Michael Turner (pictured) told Politico. “Our missile defense system is the only defense we have if North Korea should place an ICBM on its launch with a nuclear weapon attached.”
Democrat Rick Larsen said, “It is North Korea, after all. There will always be another provocative incident.”
In what Politico describes as “the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. missile defense program in a decade,” the Obama administration is cutting missile defense and wavering on our commitments to build missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic. The administration wants to reduce missile defense spending from $9.2 billion in 2009 to $7.8 billion in 2010. The president also wants to reduce missile interceptors in Alaska and California from 44 to 30. Budget reductions will affect weapons systems created to stop missiles in the boost phase, a critical point in a missile’s cycle.
Favoring talk over action, Barack Obama wants to appease Russia and discuss nuclear power with rogue nation Iran. The upper hand is quickly shifting to countries that want us to be vulnerable. Obama’s weak stance will do more harm than good. Other countries are acting in their own best interests. Perhaps one day, before it’s too late, we’ll start acting in ours.