Trump Embraces the Missile Defense Boondoggle
Today Trump will embrace a huge expansion of the boondoggle that is missile defense:
The Trump administration is seeking to expand the scope and sophistication of American missile defenses on a scale not seen since President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative in a new strategy that President Trump plans to roll out personally on Thursday alongside military leaders at the Pentagon.
Throwing more money at missile defense systems is both a very expensive waste of resources and a highly destabilizing action that will spur other nuclear-armed states to expand their arsenals. Combined with the expected U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty and the impending expiration of New START, we could be looking at the start of a full-blown arms race with Russia and China in just a few years. The worst part is that the technology doesn’t work as advertised and isn’t going to work in the future, and the only ones to benefit from more spending on missile defense are the defense contractors that build the useless systems. The report continues:
The Pentagon wants to put a constellation of sensors above the Earth that can track missiles as they launch, and is recommending a study of weapons that can shoot down missiles from space. The review will also note that further development of high-energy lasers could give the United States a cost-effective way to destroy missiles shortly after their launch in what is known as “boost phase.”
Arms control experts have been quick to dismiss these ideas as unrealistic:
— Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione) January 17, 2019
An article from last fall by Laura Grego and David Wright explained why space-based missile defense would be both extremely costly and ineffective:
As a number of technical studies have shown, however, such a system would be incredibly complex, requiring hundreds or thousands of orbiting interceptors to defend against even a handful of missiles. It also would be incredibly expensive. A congressionally mandated study in 2012 by the National Academies of Science and Engineering concluded that a space-based boost-phase missile defense would cost 10 times more than any terrestrial alternative.
A system with an “austere,” or simple, capability to counter a few North Korean missiles, the study estimated, would cost at least $300 billion.
But even that amount of money would not produce an effective defense, partly because the interceptor constellation would be vulnerable to anti-satellite weapons and to being overwhelmed by a salvo of missile launches.
Expanding missile defenses would just mean adding more unnecessary spending to an already bloated Pentagon budget, and it would actually result in less security for the U.S. and less stability in our relations with the other nuclear-armed powers.