Should the U.S. Have a Missile Defense System? NO!

By U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney

President Reagan called for an anti-ballistic missile defense system 16 years ago. Forty billion dollars later, we don't have a weapon that can shoot down an ICBM. Can you imagine the outrage if Congress spent $40 billion for highway construction without putting down a single mile of road?

Yet Star Wars proponents dismiss costs and failures of most tests and point to emerging threats from rogue nations. That threat does not hold water any more than Kennedy's "missile gap" or Reagan's "window of vulnerability." They were all contrived to justify spending money that goes to an industry known for generous campaign contributions to its friends.

Clearly, if our nuclear arsenal and conventional military superiority deterred the Soviet Empire, it can do the same to Korea or Iraq. As far as the threat from terrorists, Timothy McVeigh proved you don't need to build an ICBM to deliver a bomb.

As an Armed Services Committee member, I heard testimony from military officials on threats to the public and our military. They range from biological and chemical terrorism to computer attacks on our intelligence systems. Each of the joint chiefs spoke of the need for adequate pay, benefits, training and equipment for our military personnel.

Gen. Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "The chiefs question putting additional billions of taxpayers' dollars into fielding a system now that does not work or has not proven itself..."

Instead of addressing critical needs, Congress voted to build a "Maginot Line" in space, prompting one analyst to write, "The only thing that seems certain is that the missile defense program will intercept large amounts of taxpayers' money."

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of a missile defense system from $31 billion to $60 billion. That money is not going for defense, health care, education or veterans' benefits.

It's true that there is nothing harder to kill than a government program, especially if it has already spent over $40 billion with nothing to show. It is time to drive a stake through the heart of the Star Wars system.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney is a Democrat from Georgia. This article appeared in the January edition of American Legion magazine.