February 06, 2004
missile defense a waste
Bush administration is seeking a large increase for missile
defense spending. Some people believe that a ballistic
missile defense system is necessary in these dangerous
times; the danger and the projected technological progress
are worth the costs. Despite their arguments, there are
problems in increasing military spending for a missile
defense system. While it is true that many unfriendly
nations possess weapons that can hit the United States,
there is more to worry about than ballistic missiles.
One problem with missile defense spending is the rising
cost. According to a recent Associated Press story, the
Bush administration wants to increase missile defense
spending from $7.6 billion to $9.14 billion, a nearly
20 percent increase. While that may seem small to most
in the government, $1.54 billion is still a lot of money.
In addition, according to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency
Web site, missile defense spending from 1985-2002 reached
over $65 billion. Despite the billions of taxpayer dollars
spent, there is little to show for it.
Though the concept of missile defense has changed since
the Cold War Strategic Defense Initiative proposal, research
and funding has not produced a working national missile
defense. Admittedly, the Patriot air defense missile did
develop from missile defense funding. Even though it is
a good weapon, Patriot missiles could not stop Iraqi SCUD
missiles from hitting Israel during the first Gulf War.
Though some may consider the Iraqi attack on Israel as
a reason to increase missile defense spending, they should
look at recent U.S. history.
The United States has many enemies in the world, but they
often use terrorist tactics, not ballistic missiles. Timothy
McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, used a truck bomb to
destroy the Federal building, not ballistic missiles.
The terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11th tragedy
used knives and mace in their suicide hijacking, not ballistic
The alleged terrorist in the 2001 anthrax letters attack
used bacteria, not ballistic missiles.
While some believe that missile defense should be given
more emphasis, they seem to forget that many enemies of
the United States have other means of attack.
After World War I, the French created a defense system
known as the Maginot Line. Despite the immense funding
and theoretical supposition, it utterly failed to stop
Fascist invaders or their blitzkrieg tactics during World
War II. Some missile defense critics believe an American
missile defense system is just another Maginot Line. To
them, it is an expensive theoretical defense against ballistic
missiles, which does not defend against low-tech terrorist
attacks. In the end, is the uncertain possibility of stopping
a high-tech ballistic missile really equal to definite
need of stopping low-tech terrorism?
Eugene Chu is a senior political science major from Arlington.