Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How NOT To Respond To North Korea

In the wake of North Korea's suspected test of a nuclear device, the US Congress has reacted predictably by throwing money at a solution. Duncan Hunter (R-CA 52nd) said "lawmakers negotiating the Pentagon's fiscal 2007 budget had added $100 million for Aegis ballistic missile defense SM-3 interceptors and Aegis system development."

Congress, and government more generally, is a fundamentally reactive body. That it, when something happens, Congress reacts to it which often causes an misestimation of the threat and an unnecessarly excessive response. Rather than thinking in an analytic manner about the nature of the threat posed, the costs and benefits of a particular solution, or anything else, Congress likes to throw money at a problem, both hoping that the chosen solution will work as well as trying to look like it's on top of the problem and taking actions to protect the country.

Thus, without considering why nuclear deterrence would fail to dissuade North Korea from launching a nuclear-armed ballistic missile at the US, without thinking about how much of a threat such an attack poses to the US, without thinking about how else $100 million might be spent on more useful, more immediate problems, Congress simply adds $100 million to the budget to deal with a technology fraught with technical problems and of dubious strategic necessity.

I wouldn't go so far to say Congress is a bigger threat to this country than Kim Jong-Il, but I wouldn't trust either of them with my ATM card.

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