The Obama administration has decided that missile defense might come in handy after all. Following reports that Kim Jong-Il might launch a Taepodong-2 missile at Hawaii for a Fourth of July message to the White House, the Pentagon has ordered missile-defense systems bolstered around the 50th state. Those preparations include the deployment of a radar system that Obama strangely left in storage during the previous North Korean missile launch:
The U.S. is moving ground-to-air missile defenses to Hawaii as tensions escalate between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s recent moves to restart its nuclear-weapon program and resume test-firing long-range missiles.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday that the U.S. is concerned that Pyongyang might soon fire a missile toward Hawaii. Some senior U.S. officials expect a North Korean test by midsummer, even though most don’t believe the missile would be capable of crossing the Pacific and reaching Hawaii.
Mr. Gates told reporters that the U.S. is positioning a sophisticated floating radar array in the ocean around Hawaii to track an incoming missile. The U.S. is also deploying missile-defense weapons to Hawaii that would theoretically be capable of shooting down a North Korean missile, should such an order be given, he said.
How odd that Obama suddenly discovered the utility of missile defense systems. Obama demanded a cut in missile-defense funding of $1.2 billion in 2010, which angered Republicans in Congress, who predicted this very scenario:
Lawmakers are demanding to know why the president’s proposed 2010 defense budget cuts missile defense by $1.2 billion and does not provide any funds for the European missile defense shield as Iran and North Korea defy the international community with missile testing. …
At Fort Greeley in Alaska, the missile defense silos can defend the U.S. from both North Korea and Iran, but the Obama budget would cuts the number of interceptor missiles based there from 44 to 30. And that has both Republicans and Democrats asking, why now?
“Is this being budget-driven?” Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., asked.
“The numbers don’t add up to me,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., “I think it’s just a question of somewhere somebody has decided to cut missile defense substantially, and you’re doing the best you can under a difficult circumstance.”
The last time Kim launched a T-2, in April of this year, the US had plenty of notice. However, Obama and the Pentagon neglected to pull its most sophisticated missile-defense radar out of Pearl Harbor in time to at least exercise it under real-world conditions. At that time, the White House didn’t want to “provoke” Kim by using our defense against the weapons with which Kim explicitly threatened us and our allies in April.
How did that strategy pay off? Ask the people of Hawaii when Kim lights the candle on the next T-2, and see if they would have preferred a test run for those missile-defense systems when we had the chance. We certainly now see why the US needs to keep funding those systems.