Missile Defense Opponent Sees Its Funding About To Tumble

By | March 31, 2008 | Satellite News Feed

Funding for ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs will slump, a BMD critic predicted, likening support for missile defense to the home-prices bubble and the sub-prime home mortgage industry that just slumped.

Joseph Cirincione, vice president for national security at the Center for American Progress, a think tank, predicted "the second bursting of the missile defense bubble, similar to the housing bubble."

Cirincione said budget support for BMD programs will wither because it has risen to unsustainable levels that a newly elected president next year will slash in favor of spending defense dollars on more traditional war wares such as tanks, planes and ships.

Within missile defense programs, dollars will be redirected away from BMD systems countering long-range enemy missiles to BMD assets designed to kill more commonplace shorter- range systems, Cirincione said. He spoke on a panel before a Missile Defense Agency-American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics conference in Washington, D.C.

He also predicted that spending on BMD programs will decline because there are far fewer long-range missiles aimed at the United States now than 10 or 20 years ago.

And Cirincione also predicted that Iran and North Korea may be 10 years from creating a long-range missile capability, terming that "a threat that does not exist." (Others at the conference said that would occur by 2015, at the latest.)

Too, Cirincione asserted that missile defense systems don’t work, despite repeated successes in taking down target missiles imitating enemy missiles.

As well, he said U.S.-Russian relations have reached a low point.

Cirincione drew partial agreement, on some points, from Michael O’Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy with the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

But a different view came from Baker Spring, a research fellow in national security policy with the Heritage Foundation, another Washington, D.C., think tank.

What will carry the day, Spring said, is a realization that one can’t have an unchanging, one-note strategy, but rather one must have a mix of offensive and defensive programs, including missile defense.

That, he said, would provide "a broader strategy of protect and defend."

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