While Republicans applaud President Obama for bucking the far left of his party on Iraq and Afghanistan policy, we believe that his defense budgets threaten to leave us vulnerable in an increasingly dangerous world.
If anything is certain in these most uncertain times, it is that threats to the homeland will persist. Consider the recent provocations by North Korea and Iran. Last week the North tested a nuclear weapon and fired off a salvo of missiles. It is also reportedly preparing to test a longer-range missile in the near future. Meanwhile, Iran is defiantly developing the material to build the nuclear bomb. Last month, it brazenly test-fired a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 2,000 km.
The nuclear and ballistic missile threat from these rogue nations is undeniably growing. Both regimes have shown a willingness to share their illicit technology and know-how with terrorists or other unpleasant regimes. It would be unwise to assume either regime would not pass nukes on to terrorists or anyone else willing to pay.
So why is the administration conceding Iran has a right to nuclear energy, as if Iran’s nuclear weapons program wouldn’t forfeit that right? Why on earth, as domestic discretionary spending reaches stratospheric heights, is President Obama planning to cut defense spending to a meager 3.5% of GDP in five years, and 3.1% in 10 years? Why, given the expanding nature of the missile threat, is President Obama cutting missile defense by more than $1 billion?
Much of this funding is for the research and development of vital programs that could pay huge national security dividends down the road. One harmful cut, for example, is to the Airborne Laser program, which could potentially interdict an Iranian missile in its earliest stages of flight. President Obama and his allies say these programs should be defunded because they likely will not be operational in the immediate or near term.
But the lessons of history show that we cannot turn our backs on R&D funding.
It wasn’t so long ago that critics railed against funding for unmanned aerial vehicles. They claimed UAVs could never be used in combat. Yet today UAVs play an indispensable role in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have taken out high-level al Qaeda figures, and have been nothing short of a game changer in modern, asymmetric warfare.
Now is the time for the Administration and Congress to come together to provide for our national defense for both today and tomorrow. Let’s not be caught six years from now regretting we didn’t prepare for the gathering storm of threats on the horizon.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.