The genius of SDI was that it did not recklessly attack the Soviets but rather neutralized their threat through our technological advantage. Derided as a “Star Wars” style fantasy that was impossible to realize, President Reagan’s vision was a major component in the effort that brought down the Soviet Union without firing a shot, as no one ever started a war with a weapon called missile defense.
The Obama administration has unfortunately shown little enthusiasm for missile defense, beginning with the decision to cancel plans for a ballistic missile defense system in Central Europe, announced on the 70thanniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 2009. This pattern continued with the arbitrary and unnecessary concessions made to the Russians limiting our global deployment of missile defense in the New START that was implemented in 2011 and remains in force until 2021.
Most recently, on March 14th the Government Accountability Office released a report titled “Regional Missile Defense: DOD’s Report Provided Limited Information; Assessment of Acquisition Risks is Optimistic.” It provides the depressing assessment that what missile defense programs we still have planned in Europe are going to be delayed to the tune of years because of technological glitches and cost overruns—a failure that would not have been tolerated if missile defense was a priority for the Commander in Chief.
This report could not have come at a more inopportune time, but perhaps it can serve as a wake-up call that President Obama’s policies on both Russia and missile defense have collapsed and should be immediately reversed through the following actions:
· The President should begin the process of withdrawing from New START according to the provision of Article XIV(3) of the Treaty, which declares “Each party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests;”
· The Secretary of Defense should engage in a full re-assessment of our missile defense posture in Europe with the purpose of restoring or expanding the installations cancelled in 2009; and
· The Secretary of Defense should, in conjunction with this work, engage in a thorough review of the delays and costs over-runs of the existing missile defense programs for Europe with the goal of accelerating their scheduled implementation.
These simple steps would send a clear and unequivocal signal to Vladimir Putin that the United States is unafraid to stand with our allies for our own national security interests.
Today his sights are set on Ukraine, but if he continues undeterred tomorrow it could be Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Romania, the Czech Republic, or Poland. Meeting his challenge now with strength, not appeasement, would be the best way to ensure that this does not happen, and that we do not squander our hard-won Cold War victory over the Soviets.