President Reagan was the father of the modern push for missile defenses. We could pay no better tribute to our beloved 40th President than to realize his dream. Later this year, an initial deployment of missile defense interceptors will take place in Alaska and then California. Such protection could be short lived however. Senator Kerry, true to form, as he has done some forty previous times, has proposed to eliminate this protection of the American people. The Senator has tried to dress up his idea by simultaneously releasing the names of his national security advisers. Many of these advisors loathe missile defense and were the midwives of many of the foreign and defense failures of the past quarter century.
To begin with, stopping deployment would eliminate some of the very missiles the U.S. plans to test, a goal Kerry endorses. The robust testing program would allow immediate enhancements to deployed missiles. In this way, a "spiral development" of missile defense can occur, giving the U.S. an initial capability to defend ourselves against North Korean nuclear rockets, as well as enhancing the capability of the deployment through more complicated testing.
Senator Kerry's proposal breaks the production line for the interceptor missiles and delays future deployment by an additional 5-7 years. This would have the remarkable effect of leaving the U.S. completely vulnerable to North Korean missiles, which the intelligence community now unanimously concludes threaten us, threats which would worsen considerably if Iran and other states also secure the capability to launch rockets armed with nuclear weapons at our cities.
The cut is necessary, says Kerry, to help pay for 40,000 additional U.S. soldiers he wants to add to our armed services. To carry out this plan, he would have to find upwards of $30-40 billion annually to hire, train and fully equip the additional soldiers with the Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Abrams Tanks, helicopters, special forces technology and other weapons needed to make the new forces effective. Where would these extra funds needed come from to provide for these troops?
Senator Kerry's history might give us some clues, as well as the history of the national security advisers from which he is receiving such recommendations. Kerry himself has voted repeatedly against the modern tactical aircraft now being flown by our Navy and Air Force. Finding $400 billion over the next decade would require the elimination of the Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22. The space-based systems such as the space-based radar and other sensors would also have to go, leaving the U.S. military partially blind to threats and unable to secure battlefield information. The Air Force tankers so critical to refueling the global reach of our forces would start falling out of the sky, funds being unavailable for their replacement. It would gut over half of our current procurement account. How many of the currently planned Navy cruisers and destroyers will the Senator eliminate? Or what portions of the U.S. strategic nuclear force?
We can judge that in part by the record of his defense advisers. Many of these folks said the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole and our African embassies were not sufficiently serious to warrant a response because it might interfere with the "Middle East Peace Process." They told us in the Carter administration that the Iranian mullah Khomeini was a "moderate" and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua were not Marxists. They gave away the Panama Canal, oblivious to the potential crippling of U.S. commerce that might come with an adversary gaining control of the waterway. They said we had too much of a fear of communism, as they watched the Soviet Union conquer some 12 additional countries in the 1970s.
During the Clinton administration, they became so obsessed with killing missile defense that they messed up strategic arms control, as START II went by the wayside. They viewed the international Islamic jihadists as a law enforcement issue, ignoring the states from which they received weapons, training, funding and sanctuary, resulting in the U.S. being attacked again and again. They agreed to pretend arms control deals with North Korea, as we later found out Pyongyang was cheating and building nuclear weapons all along. They ignored Israeli warnings of Iranian missile and nuclear weapons programs, declaring economic engagement would do the trick.
After the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal building in 1995, the Clinton national security team concluded that Islamic fundamentalist terror was "on the wane" and the most serious threat facing Americans at home were "militias" fueled by the rhetoric of Newt Gingrich. The proposal to stop the deployment of missiles in Alaska will save, at best, hundreds of millions annually. To claim, as Kerry does, that such small savings will pay for additional thousands of troops is bogus and just another example of his penchant for cooking the books. Given his track record, and that of his advisers, why would we want to hire these folks in such critical times?
Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a Maryland defense consulting firm. He is Senior Defense Associate at NDUF. He specializes in nuclear weapons, missile defense, terrorism and rogue states. These views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of his affiliated organizations.