Obama, Congress should push NATO missile defense program off 'fiscal cliff'
As the automatic defense spending cuts loom, President Obama and Congress should cancel the flawed, expensive NATO missile-defense program. Ending the program would encourage greater international cooperation on security issues and free up Navy ships to address actual threats.
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In any case, according to statements made by the Polish foreign minister, it appears that Poland is not really worried about any missile threat from Iran anytime soon. And if NATO states do get genuinely worried about missile threats in the future, they could cooperate on researching other types of missile defense architectures – ones that may even have some chance of working.Skip to next paragraph
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The current NATO missile defense project seems to be more politically motivated – for instance, by giving the NATO bureaucracy a new raison d'être post-Cold War – rather than having anything to do with real national security concerns of NATO states. If genuine national security concerns were motivating proponents of missile defense, they would not cheer-lead a system that top scientists have said is “unproven” and “does not merit deployment.”
The current missile defense plan will only give America and its allies a false sense of security, while simultaneously giving China and Russia a false sense of insecurity, potentially causing a needless backlash from them.
In this time of tight budgets, Washington ought to stick to core military missions and not indulge in the expensive fantasy of an unworkable missile defense. America has spent 50 years and hundreds of billions of dollars already chasing this dream in vain. As then-Senator Joe Biden put it in 2001, the “obsession with missile defense…is…troubling because of the attention and resources being diverted from critical efforts to address genuine threats.”
Conservative fiscal hawks should now show their mettle by agreeing to cut the flawed missile defense program as part of a deal to avert the looming sequestration budget cuts. Pushing this expensive dead-end project over the fiscal cliff will save huge amounts of money that could be put to better use in actually defending the nation.
Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is professor and scientist in residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. The views expressed are his own.