TCU Daily Skiff Friday, February 06, 2004
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Ballistic missile defense a waste

COMMENTARY

Eugene Chu

The 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 missiles.

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.
 
 
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