A rogue state with nuclear weapons has repeatedly threatened war against the US and its regional allies via missile attack. North Korea even moved its missiles to the coast, and may be accelerating another nuclear-weapons test. What could send a signal of resolve in a crisis like this?
How about a budget cut to missile defense?
The Pentagon will request $9.16 billion for missile defense programs for the 2014 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, about $550 million less than this year’s $9.71 billion, according to internal budget figures obtained by Bloomberg News.
The missile defense proposal scheduled to be released April 10 is part of a $526.6 billion defense budget President Barack Obama will propose, according to government officials familiar with the budget plan who asked not to be named discussing it in advance. …
The administration’s reduced request comes despite heightened concerns about North Korean threats to attack U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan and Guam.
Funny about that, huh? That sends a message, but not necessarily one of resolve. With the present Korean crisis being acute since at least January, the White House can’t claim to have been surprised by it so badly that concerns over North Korea’s missiles missed a budget cycle.
Bloomberg reminds readers that Congress can add more money to the effort, but don’t bet on it. Last year, the Democrat-controlled Senate canceled an increase in funding for new interceptor sites because, er, the environment may have been harmed:
The request is subject to congressional scrutiny and could be increased in areas lawmakers decide to give greater emphasis, such as the ground-based system of missile interceptors based in Alaska and California to protect the U.S. Last year, House members added money to start construction of a site on the East Coast. The Senate removed the funds, asking the Pentagon to conduct an environmental impact study instead.
Nuclear missiles can be harmful for the environment, too. Small wonder that Pyongyang didn’t take us very seriously. Fox News reports on a postponed missile test and the message that sent, while the White House insisted yesterday that they weren’t bowing to North Korea. Maybe we were just bowing to the environment.
The Hill reported that the postponement was directly related to concerns over Pyongyang’s reaction:
The Pentagon has decided to delay the test of an intercontinental ballistic missile originally planned for this week, amid rising tensions with North Korea, reports said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel decided to postpone the test of the Minuteman 3 missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, over fears that the launch could worsen relations with Pyongyang, a senior defense official told the Associated Press, which first reported the delay.
It’s probably not a bad idea to hold off on this, but let’s not pretend a postponement is unrelated to North Korea. The issue of missile defense is very much related to North Korea, and budget cuts in the middle of this crisis make zero sense, politically, diplomatically, or militarily. Talk about bad timing.