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  xWednesday, December 18, 2002

missile defense sux0rz


I have a headline for you:

Democrats Propose Massive Spending Increase On Dubious, Unneccesary Program

Sounds like I ripped that one right out of the GOP playbook, doesn't it? You can just hear Rush, the Professor, and others yelling about it? Well, in a way it does represent the GOP playbook; just a different page: Missile Defense to Start in 2004; Bush Commits U.S. to Initial System. This announcem,ent, which is already drawing fire, comes right on the heels of a conspicuous failure in a recent test (It's five of eight, so far--and these initial tests are easy). Odd timing, to say the least, even if we weren't already engaged in one international conflict and moving toward another one. But I think the GOP is up to something here that goes a long way to explaining the timing.

Let's take a look at what a stinky policy this is:

  • As even Rummy admits, the system doesn't work; it's far from ready for deployment. So why now?

  • Because once the government commits to spending money on a project, it's incredibly hard to stop, and the Bush Administration is cynically counting on this, to the contradiction of their avowed small-government principles (ah, but they're "strong on defense," so it's okay...). Make no mistake about it: Missile defense is already going forward as an R&D project. My sense is that the Bush Administration doesn't really have much confidence in either the program or being around in 2004. So the key is to get all those holes dug in Alaska now, because one they're dug, we'll have to put something there whether it works or not.

  • But even if the system works--and mind, that's far from certain--against ballistic missiles, now is hardly the right time to deploy, given the massive spending commitments necessary for the War on Terror and the Homeland Security reshuffle, not to mention a possible War opn Iraq (for which we're going to pick up most of the tab this time around). I don't imagine that Bush has proposed any mechanism for paying for it other than using the government's credit card?

  • (By the by, the time when we need allies is also a funny occasion to resurrect this adminstration's image as arrogant, unilateralist cowboys...)

  • And even if the system works at a given level, it's pathetically obvious how easy it would be to circumvent--more missiles, for starters (should we really motivate the North Koreans into a new arms race?), more dummy warheads, or simply not using a missile. The money for deployment of this wishful-thinking system--it doesn't freakin' work yet, people!--would be much better spent on detection equipment at the nation's sea- and airports.

  • By the by, have you noticed which way the ABMs are pointed? Toward the nuclear threat that Bush prefers to negotiate with.


There you have it. The system doesn't work, but the Bush Administration wants to commit the US to this porvocative, wasteful boondoggle for the defense industry anyway, at the expense of increased defecits at the bare minimum (since you sure don't hear about Bush proposing a tax increase to pay for it), and in all likelihood serious damage to US prestige and international relations as well, not to mention the very real possibility of a brand-new arms race. (Once again: The way to circumvent a missile defense is to build more missiles, which is exactly why the US and Soviet Union signed the 1972 ABM treaty).

Reasonable people could support the concept or reliability of a missile defense system. I disagree, but on top of all of that, now is hardly the time, except to cement a massive increase in, and ensure continuous of, government spending that deals with a hypothetical threat.

Neptune World rightly heaps scorn on the idea too, and Oliver Willis imagines Bush's memo authorizing the boondoggle.





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