House Pushes for East Coast Missile Shield

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Missiles in the sky

The House has approved a $643 billion defense-spending bill for 2013 that’s $3.7 billion more than the Obama Administration, and its Pentagon, is seeking. That’s just about the same amount the Congressional Budget Office estimates the House bill’s push for an East Coast missile shield will cost over the next five years.

It’s amazing that a country without money can consider building a missile shield against a threat that doesn’t exist.

True, we’ve already invested billions building such a West Coast system against the threat of a North Korean missile attack, so why shouldn’t we build a mirror system on the other side of the country to protect its denizens from attack by the Iranians?

The House proposal “postures our Armed Forces for potential future threats,” says Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the armed services committee. “Despite a tough fiscal environment, we have provided our Armed Forces with the tools they need to win the war today and deter against the wars of tomorrow.”

McKeon’s bill, passed on a 299-120 vote Friday, also instructs President Obama to sell “no fewer than” 66 more F-16 jets to Taiwan – the initiative of Rep. Kay Granger, R-Tex., whose Fort Worth district is home to Lockheed’s F-16 plant – blocks Pentagon plans to retire aircraft, and allocates more money for Navy ships.

It restricts the Administration’s ability to scale back the nation’s nuclear arsenal, limits the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, and allows indefinite detention – without trial – of anyone, including U.S. citizens, captured on U.S. soil and suspected of terrorism. The bill is $8 billion more than the defense ceiling set in last year’s Budget Control Act.

The missile-defense language calls for spending $100 million on an East Coast site in 2013, with a goal of having such a system in place by 2016. The Congressional Budget Office estimates such a system will cost $3.6 billion through 2017, but warns that the program’s cost is likely to go higher. The White House has said building such a site is “premature,” and it’s unlikely to win backing when the Senate considers its version of the defense authorization bill this week.

It’s the missile-defense mania that truly baffles. There seems to be a pathological need in some quarters of the nation’s politics to defend against attacks from far-off enemies, no matter how unlikely. They cite intelligence reports from agencies that have erred in the past, and take their predictions of doom as gospel. You can worst-case anything, and missile-defense advocates do.

At least the Soviets had bombers they could actually fly and ICBMs they could actually launch to justify our Nike air-defense missile bases and Safeguard missile shield.

Neither Iran nor North Korea is yet capable of sending an armed missile across oceans to hit a specific target in the U.S. In the unlikely event they surmount the immense technical challenges associated with such a feat – it’s not as easy as missile-defense boosters would have you believe – they would be few in number. If U.S. relations with either Iran or North Korea soured sufficiently, enemy missiles, and their launchers, would be subject to pre-emptive attack by U.S. forces.

The nation’s West Coast missile-defense site is called the Pacific. Its East Coast missile defense is called the Atlantic. Think of it as God’s investment in missile defense.