Last week, the Bush Administration took the American people a step backwards to the dark days of the Cold War. The U.S. formally withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia. The withdrawal from the treaty will facilitate Bush’s development of a National Missile Defense System.
Now, without the treaty and with $8 billion earmarked for National Missile Defense, the Bush administration is clear to develop this controversial and questionable program. But we have a major problem; we simply don’t have the technology to make it work. According to Dr. David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists, President Bush is rushing to develop “systems [that] will not provide ’emergency capability’ against real-world threats, only the illusion of capability.”
A National Missile Defense system would not have prevented September 11th. Every day we encounter more national security challenges that do not have military solutions. We don’t need government “hocus-pocus,” we need to invest our scarce economic resources on proven, cost effective ways to provide for our national security and the future of our children. The $8 billion ear marked for National Missile Defense could be better spent on rebuilding our national economy, improving schools, developing alternative energy resources to lessen our dependency on foreign fossil fuels and enhancing our homeland security: protecting our international borders, increasing airline security and expanding public health measures to combat bioterrorism.
When President Bush first threatened withdrawal, I introduced House Resolution 313 with the support of 50 of my colleagues to keep the U.S. on the ABM treaty. Most recently, I joined 31 of my colleagues in a lawsuit charging that President Bush does not have the authority to unilaterally withdraw from a treaty without the consent of Congress.
The ABM treaty is the cornerstone of international arms control. Now that more countries have nuclear weapons, international treaties are even more important. International cooperation is the way to peace and international security; not increased military build-up. Over the past 30 years, ABM treaty has been a vital link to working with the international community and it is more important than ever that we not turn our back on it.