Missile defense: a necessary cost?
Discussing the START treaty that right now is being considered by the Senate, the Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll reminds us and the Senators considering the treaty of some objective reality:
Senators should keep in mind this Administration’s hostility toward missile defense to begin with. Within months of assuming office, the Obama Administration announced a $1.4 billion cut to missile defense. The successful Airborne Laser boost-phase program was cut, the Multiple Kill Vehicle and Kinetic Energy Interceptor was terminated, and the expansion of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California were canceled. Adding insult to injury, President Obama then installed long-time anti-missile defense crusader Phillip Coyle as Associate Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology … by recess appointment. That’s right—this President not only appointed the “high priest” of missile defense denialism as his top adviser on missile defense, but he did so in a way to purposefully avoid Senate consultation on the matter. This is the President some Senate conservatives want to trust? On missile defense? Really?
One way to make nuclear weapons obsolete or less desirable is to make them undeliverable. That’s the purpose of the missile defense technology we’ve been developing over the years. Then, when you negotiate a treaty like START you negotiate from a position of strength.
Instead, we’ve seen a unilateral decision to throw missile defense under the bus, even while rogue nations like Iran and North Korea develop bigger and more powerful missiles every year. Not to mention the fact that both countries are supplying the technology to others and, according to news reports, providing missiles to proxies and planning on basing missiles in Venezuela.
The cuts to these programs is short-sighted and ignores a very real and growing problem. The Airborne Laser boost-phase program, for instance, has successfully intercepted ICBMs in the boost phase in tests and is able to quickly kill and engage multiple targets as they boost out toward their targets (a time when the missiles are at their most vulnerable). It is the first layer in a multilayered missile killing system which would provide this country and its allies a virtually impenetrable shield against rocket launched nuclear weapons.
Instead, we have an administration going around killing off the systems that will protect us all the while telling us that START will do the job and we should just trust the Russians (and Iranians and North Koreans one supposes).
The easiest way for a nuclear weapon to be delivered successfully is via an ICBM. Killing off our successful and front-line missile killers like the Airborne Laser boost-phase program is short sighted and dangerous. If President Obama wants START, make him negotiate. Reinstate the anti-missile programs. Then, the next time he or anyone else (hopefully) negotiates a like treaty, it will be from a position of strength that essentially renders rocket delivered nukes obsolete. That would be a nice change from the obvious unilateral disarmament we’ve seen in the anti- missile shield area and a subsequent negotiating position of weakness.
That’s what our president should be doing, instead of giving away the farm for a piece of paper. I wonder if the new START promises “peace in our time”?