A sure-fire place to cut the US defense budget
The US Department of Defense has said that the air-defense program known as MEADS will never be operational. Yet Defense Secretary Leon Panetta insists that Congress reinsert $400 million in the defense budget for the program. Amazingly, Congress is falling for his line.
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The German example ought to suffice as proof of this. Europe remains by far the largest source of foreign direct investment for America, with Germany the key economic player on the continent. This seminal reality demands close and continued cooperation with Berlin on everything from investment flows to trade. Likewise, Germany is a key member of the group of great powers endeavoring to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.Skip to next paragraph
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Both of these important issue streams will continue exactly as before irrespective of MEADS. To think otherwise is simply to head through the looking glass.
Also, America’s allies have other concerns. Germany is now the undoubted paymaster for Europe, whose fiscal stability is the last, best, chance the continent has to emerge from the euro crisis in one piece. Given this glaring reality, if Berlin is going to spend precious euros on defense, it must be for systems that work.
If this is true for Germany, it holds even more so for Italy. Rome sits very near the debt precipice, and is in the sights of the punishing bond markets. It will serve American and Italian interests if Rome ceases to pay for the foreign-policy equivalent of the “bridge to nowhere.”
America, too, no longer has the luxury of funding MEADS. If Washington is ever to be serious about avoiding the fate of Greece, the time is now. In order to continue to fund our absolutely necessary military, we cannot afford to waste another dime of our treasure.
The way out of this maze is for the United States to properly pay for the modernization of a Patriot Missile system that is operational, has a proven track record, and is already used by 11 other allied nations.
Doing so can bring 60 modernized Patriot fire units online by 2016. Hiding behind hard-pressed allies to continue wasting money no longer passes the laugh test.
It is now up to the full Senate to follow the lead of three other congressional defense panels and put Alice back down the rabbit hole, rejecting the reinsertion of MEADS funding for the coming fiscal year. Both the taxpayer and the US military deserve no less.
Dr. John C. Hulsman is president and co-founder of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, an international relations political-risk consulting firm. He is also the author of all or part of 10 books, including “Ethical Realism,” “The Godfather Doctrine,” and a biography of Lawrence of Arabia, “To Begin the World Over Again.”