Posts Tagged: missile defense

Obama’s Admirably Frugal $680 Billion Pentagon Budget

Barack Obama signed a $680 billion Pentagon spending bill yesterday — and the New York Times’ Christopher Drew reports that the administration did a bang up job cutting costs! The $680 billion is more than the last Bush administration Pentagon budget, which was $654 billion (that figure includes the Pentagon bill, plus the spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which the Bush White House budgeted separately) . But the focus of this bill has been on what isn’t included — extravagant programs like Army modernization and missile defense have been pared down and the bill apparently better reflects current military priorities. Hopefully the first cut will not (ahem) be the deepest: the re-ordering of priorities in this budget will only be significant if Obama can leverage further, more substantial cuts in the next three Pentagon budgets.


Barack Obama is not following through on George W. Bush’s plan to build missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Spiegel. One can spend today, and probably the next month, reading about the myriad political/diplomatic implications this has in regard to the U.S. relationship with NATO, Poland, the Czechs, Russia and Iran. But a couple of things to keep in mind: Iran — the country the shield is supposed to defend against — has demonstrated no ability to fire a long-range missile that would hit East Europe. If Iran is, in fact, a nuclear threat it is from their short-range missiles and so Obama is right to want a missile shield closer to Iran. Also, there is strong scientific evidence that missile defense would fail to intercept a missile.

Given the severe unlikelihood that the technology will ever exist for A.) a missile attack by Iran and B.) a successful interception of that missile, the missile shield issue is a pointless exercise in antagonizing other countries. Maybe Obama recognizes this — he is making the most of Bush’s silly plan by comforting Russia that the shield won’t be placed in two former Soviet nations.


Here is a potentially positive shift in foreign policy from the Bush to Obama administration: the New York Times’ Judy Dempsey and Peter Baker reported this weekend that Barack Obama might want to scrap the missile defense shield George W. Bush wanted to build in Poland and the Czech Republic. The shield is supposed to cost at least $4 billion and its purpose is unclear: stopping a potential Iranian nuclear attack? Stopping a Russian nuclear attack?

Not surprisingly, Russia is happy that the U.S. might not have a missile defense shield in two former Soviet bloc states, after all. Besides relations with Russia, there’s another reason Obama should can this program: missile defense doesn’t work. Even if Iran were to develop the nuclear weapon needed to attack Poland and then decided it would be a great idea to attack Poland (and be subsequently annihilated), the technology isn’t there to actually shield Poland from such an attack.-MB