The Washington Post reports that "Democrats in Congress are building a legislative roadblock to the Bush administration's plan to place elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic."
The Senate is expected to join the House next week in reducing funds in the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Bill for construction of 10 interceptor missile sites in Poland and for deployment of an X-band radar in the Czech Republic. The House, in passing its version of the legislation last month, cut $40 million from the bill, which would have funded preparation of the Polish sites next year. The move prevents the White House from proceeding unless President Bush vetoes the measure.
The Senate Armed Services Committee, justifying its decision to delay funding for the European antimissile sites, emphasized not only foreign policy concerns but also technical issues surrounding the interceptor missiles.
As illustrated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's statements last weekend during his visit with Bush in Maine, Russia remains opposed to the U.S. deployment plans. In its report on the authorization bill, the Senate committee cited Moscow's opposition and said any funding should await completion of talks between the two governments.
So Democrats are citing Putin's concerns as cause for halting the deployment of interceptors to Poland? And with regard to the threat from Iran:
The committee also raised in its report the timing of a potential Iranian threat.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Henry A. Obering III, director of the Missile Defense Agency, recently testified before the panel that U.S. intelligence misjudged North Korea's ability to launch a long-range missile in 1998. "Right now, the experts are saying that Iran will not have an ICBM until the 2010-2015 time frame," Obering said. "But it's going to take us at least that long, until 2011 or 2012, to get a first capability in the ground."
Pushing to move ahead rapidly with a missile defense system, he added: "What we're trying to do is stay ahead of what we believe to be an emerging threat, because we can't wait until they actually demonstrate it and then say, 'Now let's go find a way to counter it.' "
The Senate committee, according to its report, apparently did not embrace that argument. "There is uncertainty about whether Iran will have such long-range missiles, or nuclear warheads that could work on such missiles, by 2015," it said.
That pretty much sums up the Dems' national security strategy--put their heads in the sand and hope for the best.