HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
DUNCAN HUNTER – CHAIRMAN
For Immediate Release: July 14, 2006 Contact: Josh Holly (202) 225-2539
President Bush is Right on Missile Defense
By: U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Even in Washington it’s proper, every now and then, to applaud when someone is right.
’s July 4th launch of seven missiles, including one reportedly capable of reaching the western , proved President George Bush was right—right to pull out of the Anti-ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and right to build a system to protect us from missile attack.
Predictably, there was intense political opposition in Washington to the President’s decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty in 2002. Some liberals said that abandoning the ABM Treaty for missile defense could damage the security of the . Others continually pushed to cut funding for missile defense. Thirty-one Democrats went so far as to sue the federal government to overturn President Bush’s decision to protect us from potential missile attacks from rogue states. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), then the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, even declared that “this premise that one day Kim Jong-Il or someone will wake up one morning and say, ‘Aha, San Francisco ’ is specious.”
Most Americans probably aren’t interested in the verbosity of a typical treaty, which is understandable. But every American should be interested in what the ABM Treaty meant. The 1972 agreement between the and a long-defunct Soviet Union banned the defense of any city from missile attack—that is, all except one: Washington, D.C.
Even before the tragic 9/11 attack on New York City , President Bush understood the treaty’s implications. And given the threats facing us—global terror rings bent on mass terror and rogue regimes looking to join the nuclear club—he decided it no longer made sense to adhere to an agreement that new enemies in particular rendered obsolete. Thus, he cleared the way to reenergize our efforts to build a missile defense system that would extend beyond Washington to all American cities.
We might also applaud Sen. Biden’s prescience about Kim Jong-Il’s lack of interest in San Francisco last week, if only the North Korean dictator hadn’t apparently aimed his Taepodong-2 at Hawaii instead. Because President Bush and Republicans blocked the liberal attempts to keep us from defending ourselves, the people of Hawaii—and Portland and Seattle and San Diego and San Francisco , for that matter—are probably breathing easier today. After all, most Americans expect the government to protect them from looming threats. In fact, 79% of Americans agree—69% of those strongly—that the should have a missile defense capability, according to one recent poll.
Despite persistent Democrat attempts to slash missile funding over the last three decades, in the four years since the President pulled us out of the antiquated ABM treaty, we have developed the capacity to stop a small number of missiles. Republicans have provided $22 billion to fund the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Interceptor System and $6 billion for the Navy’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Seven out of eight Aegis intercept tests over the last three years have successfully stopped their targets, including the most recent test in late June. Just Wednesday, the Army’s Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense missile system (THAAD), a ground-based system targeting short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the final stage of flight, successfully intercepted an incoming missile, THAAD’s third successful test since November.
However, we need to do more. In the coming days, I will work with Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-VA) to see what we can do in the final defense authorization bill to accelerate our ability to bring down an inbound missile.
When Ronald Reagan opposed Mikhail Gorbachev on this issue, he faced an adversary who was neither suicidal nor immune to reason. Today, it’s impossible—even for Democrats—to guess what someone like Kim Jong-Il might do the next time he wakes up. But we can look at what he did on July 4th, and we can ask ourselves: What sane man would ignore another’s continued belligerence when providing for the country’s defense?
It’s time Democrats stopped ignoring reality. It’s time they realize that when it comes to missile defense, President Bush is right.
 Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance , April, 2005