Another Reason Why Democrats Can’t Be Trusted With Foreign Policy Posted by: McQ
on Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Russia has made its move. Poland has suddenly agreed to base a US missile defense system in their country. That's an extremely important counter-move. But the Dems in Congress don't want to do anything until the system is "proven" (it is a system they've fought tooth and nail since it was envisioned by Ronald Reagan).
As the Bush administration speeds ahead with plans to construct a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, some Democrats in Congress want to put on the brakes, saying it has not been adequately tested.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to be in Warsaw on Wednesday to sign an agreement on the missiles with Poland, which agreed to the basing of 10 interceptors last week, after the Russian attacks on Georgia. Justified as a defense against a missile attack on Europe by a rogue nation like Iran, the installation has provoked outrage from Russia.
Even before the agreement was reached, the Bush administration had proposed spending $712 million in the coming fiscal year to start digging silos in Poland; installing a related radar system in the Czech Republic, another former Soviet satellite that is now a NATO member; and buying initial parts for the first interceptor missiles.
But Democrats are now questioning all that spending as premature.
“Go ahead and move on with research and development,” said Representative Ellen O. Tauscher, Democrat of California, who is chairwoman of the House subcommittee that oversees the missile defense program. “But as far as putting holes in the ground in Poland, we are saying no.”
But right now, "putting holes in the ground" is as important as Russia's invasion of Georgia in terms of geopolitics. The missiles in question, while still undergoing some testing and improvement, aren't totally unproven either. And at this point, it's not about missiles, it is literally about holes in the ground:
Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency, said that the system, called the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System, has proved through a series of continuing tests to be reliable, and that the changes being proposed were not radical.
“Is this a perfect system? Absolutely not,” he said. “Is it embryonic? No, we are well beyond that.”
General Obering said he agreed that the missiles should not be deployed in Europe until the testing was complete, which he said was likely to be in 2010. But construction should proceed, he said.
“We can’t wait until the Iranians launch a long-range missile and then start worrying about building out the site,” he said. “If you do that, you are way behind the curve.”
And that appears where Congress is willing to put this deal - behind the curve.
Foreign policy and national security are inextricably linked and the job of the President. Here is an important foreign policy countermove which should be supported in a bi-partisan way given Russia's behavior - and what do we get?
This spring, the House Armed Services Committee voted to withhold authorization for most of the requested funds for the initial construction in Poland, and proposed language that would bar spending to build the system, until the secretary of defense certified that it was reliable.