The brutal, savage, and unprovoked attack on Israel by Hamas commenced with a withering missile barrage on Israeli towns and cities – a shocking sight that must also serve as a dramatic wake-up call to the American people about the United States’ woeful lack of progress in missile defense under President Joe Biden.
The list of Biden’s inaction on missile defense is as long as it is appalling: he refuses to fund space-based interceptors; he refuses to pressure NATO nations to acquire easy-to-integrate missile defense hardware to replace their antiquated national systems; and he refuses to construct missile defense sites in the western Pacific to defend against Chinese launches from the artificial islands the Chinese are creating in the South China Sea, which is threatening to destabilize the entire region.
In contrast, during his administration, former President Donald Trump demonstrated by word and deed his enduring commitment to missile defense and American dominance of the space domain in general. President Trump established the Space Force, the sixth branch of the U.S. military, tasked with protecting and promoting U.S. interests in space.
But Joe Biden is wasting all that progress. He has refused to utilize and upgrade facilities for testing missile defense in such locations as the White Sands Missile Range, the Pacific Missile Range Facility, and China Lake, just to name a few. Biden has also opposed live flight tests, which are most effective at emulating the complex conditions necessary to develop effective command and control sensors and intercept systems.
Biden likes to say that nuclear deterrence is the nation’s top priority, yet in his 2023 defense budget, he deleted the developmental budget for the new type of sea-launched cruise missile critical to missile defense, a program that President Trump previously championed.
Biden’s failures on missile defense are no surprise to me. I was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1990, where I served on the Armed Services Committee for 12 years and chaired the Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
That committee was frequently asked to approve or reject research or deployment of space assets such as SDI, patriot missiles, military satellites, space-based interceptors, and a multitude of other space-based technology, including the basics of “Iron Dome,” which is deployed today in Israel.
During that time, there were epic battles between proponents of investing in space-based technology, like myself, and skeptics of the strategy, such as then-Sen. Joe Biden, who worried about what the left called the “weaponization of space.” As America’s adversaries rushed to put weapons in space, liberals in Washington fought tooth and nail to hamper our response to those emerging threats.
Biden and his liberal colleagues were not just silent skeptics. They aggressively mocked and voted against nearly all space-based assets and technology. The Biden crowd scornfully called SDI “Star Wars.” They repeatedly said that “we cannot put an umbrella over America” and “it is a waste of money and will never work.”
Speaking in the 1980s about the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), Biden called missile defense “folly.” He further stated that President Ronald Reagan’s continued support of SDI “constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft.”
Biden’s record on space-based defense systems is woeful, pathetic, and downright dangerous to America’s very survival. An analysis from the National Institute for Public Policy argues the Biden administration is unclear if it is committed to advancing our nation’s missile defenses and that the actions thus far “do not demonstrate such a commitment.” The report concludes that the administration does not have a “clear and unified vision of where the nation should be heading in the defense space arena,” calling it a “stumbling block” for U.S. national security.
The man who opposed the development of space programs in the 1980s and 1990s as a U.S. senator is now the president of the United States, and the world is more dangerous than ever. Biden’s current weak policies on space assets have squandered the missile defense gains of Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.
Biden’s weakness is now being exploited by our enemies. In addition to Hamas missiles raining down on Israel, we see Russian missiles launched daily into Ukraine. North Korea fires missiles almost weekly with little challenge by this administration other than empty words. Now, China is even building a “military facility” in Cuba with hardly a whimper from Biden.
Joe Biden is causing the U.S. military to fall behind in its ability to protect our citizens and our allies at a time when the threat of missile attack from the likes of China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran is very real.
If the United States is going to have any hope of successfully protecting itself from the latest missile technology fielded by China and Russia, we need to maintain superiority in the production and deployment of space-based interceptors to detect missiles in the early boost phase or kill them before they leave the enemy’s territory.
In contrast, former president and current Republican candidate for president Trump laid out his very clear vision for defending America. In remarks a few months ago, Mr. Trump stated simply that he “will build a ‘state of the art’ next generation missile defense shield” to protect “our homeland, our allies and our military assets.” Trump further demonstrated his commitment to this issue by stating that there is “no greater danger than the deadly menace of nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles.” President Trump recently wrote an op-ed in Newsweek in which he restated his intention to build a missile defense shield and declared that America deserves an “Iron Dome” of its own, referring to the name of the Israeli missile defense system.
The former president expressed the view of many current and former space experts when, earlier this year, he said, “Under Joe Biden, the world has become vastly more dangerous.” President Trump went on to explain that his vision for avoiding conflict and keeping America safe is “to be prepared with unmatched technology and unrivaled strength.” He pointed out that hypersonic missiles are six times faster than traditional missiles and, if they are armed with nuclear warheads, they could annihilate entire countries in minutes. In the same remarks, the former president discussed his commitment to the Space Force and emphasized that for his entire political life, President Biden has opposed and mocked using space to protect America.
The contrast between Trump’s visionary action and Biden’s historic inaction is dramatic. President Trump was a leader in our military efforts in space because he understands how critical programs such as space-based sensors and other missile defense technology are to the survival of our nation in this dangerous world.
Biden’s hostility to missile defense started decades ago and continues to this day. His irresponsible inaction threatens our national security now more than ever. By contrast, Donald Trump has demonstrated strength, leadership, knowledge, and vision on this issue so critical to national survival. How we vote in 2024 could determine whether America prevails.