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Last Friday IBD wrote that, “Shortly after the North Korea [ICBM] test, Politico ran an article pointing out that ‘the Pentagon and its contractors still haven’t figured out how to reliably shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile.’ The Washington Post noted that after spending tens of billions of dollars, the system ‘has never faced combat or been fully tested.’”
You may recall the fanfare a few months ago over a triumphant test of our missile defense system. We successfully intercepted one of our own mock ICBMs launched from the Marshall Islands. A Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) was deployed from California and shot down the ICBM. Hooray for us!
Unfortunately, that intercept is the exception, not the rule, and that’s very worrisome. The one successful intercept was as close to being “laboratory” conditions as one can be. Everything about the trial was highly scripted.
And Missile Defense Agency (MDA) director Vice Admiral James Syring told a House committee recently that “I would not say we are comfortably ahead of the threat. I would say we are addressing the threat.” Translation: We’re in trouble.
“What no one commenting on this troubling gap mentions is why it is there at all. News accounts are quick to point out that $189.7 billion has been spent on missile defense since President Reagan announced his vision in 1983, which is supposed to seem like a lot of money spent for little return. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.”
That figure translates to an average of about $5.5 billion a year. This also seems like a lot of money. It should be in the real world, but not in the world of the federal government. Not in a world where our government spends about $10.4 billion per day – every day.
It’s also not a lot when you consider that a single GBI, the go-to anti-ballistic missile platform approaches $100 million a copy. And if you factor in additional acquisition, retrofit, upgrade and deployment costs, it could double or triple.
“The truth is that the country would be well ahead of where we are now on missile defense if Democrats — including, most recently, President Obama — hadn’t spent the past 30 years trying to derail the project.”
We all know by now about the threat of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse being exploded over the United States. Unlike having to acquire a specific target on land, North Korean Scientists only have to target a range of altitude and general area above the U.S. to detonate a nuclear-tipped ICBM. If both calculations are even relatively accurate, it would send most of the United States back to the days of the Revolution. Only Alaska and Hawaii would be spared.
This is not the type of project that should endure cutbacks and derailments. Missile defense cannot and should not become a political football. Yet to the left, derailing missile defense is just another part of dismantling the evil American war machine. They hate the military, and by extension, any missile system, whether it is offensive or defensive.
In his first year in office, Obama cut $1 billion from the MDA, instead opting to spend $3 billion on the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which was a typical liberal feel-good failure.
Democrats have been against missile defense since the day after Reagan announced his plan for the Strategic Defense Initiative. The left was quick to mock it as a fantasy by nicknaming it “Star Wars,” in order to evoke thoughts in the public that Reagan’s plan was nothing more than Sci-Fi movie magic.
After Clinton took office, one of his first orders was to cancel the “Star Wars” initiative. In 2000, the Heritage Foundation wrote
that cancelling Star Wars was, “perhaps the single greatest national security failure of his [Clinton] administration.” It was left to George W. Bush to restart, which he did.
Although Obama didn’t cancel missile defense, he did slash the MDA budget every year by an average of almost 8%.
All this starting and stopping of the program, not to mention budget cuts, has put America behind the eight ball. Every time it is slowed or stopped, it puts America further behind in a race we can not afford to lose.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.