By Katrina vanden Heuvel
In Congress yesterday, Representative John Tierney, Chair of the House National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, convened the first in a series of hearings to examine a US missile defense program that is out of control, straining relations with allies, and renewing an arms race with Russia. This is the first comprehensive review of the program since 1993 – the year before Republicans took control of Congress – and it’s long overdue. The focus yesterday was on the extent of the missile threat – as compared to other security vulnerabilities – and whether spending more than $10 billion annually on ballistic missile defense (BMD) is justifiable from that perspective.
Both Cirincione and Flynn pointed to the disturbing fact that there is no comprehensive threat assessment comparing missile and non-missile threats to our security. “We haven’t done a good threat assessment – an intelligence estimate that looks at the non-missile threat and the missile threat,” Flynn said.
Cirincione agreed. “I believe that in order for Congress to judge whether these sums are necessary they need a comprehensive assessment of the ballistic missile threat. Congress has never – never – gotten this kind of assessment…. We need a comprehensive threat assessment of what the most serious security threats are facing the United States, and then budget allocations based on that.”