During the John Adams administration, Americans were offered a chance to bribe their way out of a war. Most responded by chanting, “Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute.”
These days, our political leaders might go for the tribute.
Spending money is easy, when it’s somebody else’s money. Political leaders are throwing hundreds of billions at domestic programs. Much of that money could be considered “tribute,” as it’s directed at big campaign donors such as teachers’ unions and public employees.
Meanwhile, our leaders are cutting back on defense, even in the midst of a war in Afghanistan and ongoing terrorist threats. That’s a mistake, because protecting our nation is one of the few jobs the Constitution specifically assigns to the federal government. Yet defense spending is about the only thing on the cutting block.
Consider missile defense.
If there was ever a system that ought to be non-controversial, this is it. A missile-defense screen destroys incoming weapons, but has no offensive uses. The U.S. has already deployed a handful of interceptors in Alaska and California, where they could help protect our homeland if North Korea continues its missile tests.
Another set of defenses is scheduled to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, where they would be in place to protect against the growing Iranian threat to Europe. That’s American technology, serving as a gift to Europe while also protecting the U.S.
Our missile-defense systems pass test after test. Last month Navy ships detected and destroyed a short-range ballistic missile in the Pacific. The Missile Defense Agency points out “it was the 19th successful intercept in 23 at-sea firings for the Aegis BMD Program.”
In fact, since the start of the Bush administration, 37 of 46 “hit-to-kill” missile-defense tests have succeeded. We’re amazingly adept at “hitting a bullet with a bullet.”
Strangely, President Obama wants deep cuts in missile defense. His next budget calls for a $1.4 billion reduction in missile-defense spending. That’s roughly 15 percent less than we’ll spend this year, just as the program is getting up and running.