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Argument: US missile defense spending is out of proportion to relative benefits

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"Missile Defense: Longest Running Scam Exposed". The Nation. 12 Mar. 2008 - In Congress yesterday, Representative John Tierney, Chair of the House National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, convened the first in a series of hearings to examine a US missile defense program that is out of control, straining relations with allies, and renewing an arms race with Russia.

This is the first comprehensive review of the program since 1993 – the year before Republicans took control of Congress – and it's long overdue. The focus yesterday was on the extent of the missile threat – as compared to other security vulnerabilities – and whether spending more than $10 billion annually on ballistic missile defense (BMD) is justifiable from that perspective.

In his opening statement, Rep. Tierney pointed out that we have spent over $120 billion on missile defense in the past 25 years; that the annual budget is expected to double by 2013 to $19 billion; and that the current $10 billion per year is equal to one-third of the Homeland Security budget, roughly equal to the State Department budget, greater than the FEMA budget, 20 times greater than public diplomacy expenditures, and 30 times greater than Peace Corps.

[...]Rep. Stephen Lynch asked whether the allocation of resources is proportional to the threat. "Absolutely not. I believe that the Ballistic Missile Defense program is the longest running scam in the history of the Department of Defense," Cirincione said.

"This is an enormous waste of money, and if you leave this decision to the Joint Chiefs they won't spend anything near what this Administration is requesting. In fact, the last time the Joint Chiefs were asked about this in 1993, [they] recommended to then-Pres. Clinton that we spend only $3 billion a year on these kinds of programs, and of that $2.3 billion should be spent on efforts to intercept short-range missiles – the ones that are a real threat to our troops and allies…. We're no further along in our ability to actually hit a real ballistic missile now than we were 20 years ago."

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