Former Clinton Defense Secretary: a Mistake for President Obama to Downgrade Importance of Missile Defense

By Caitlin Taylor

May 28, 2009 9:18am

Writing the Washington Times, William Cohen, a Republican senator from Maine who served as President Bill Clinton’s defense secretary from 1997 through 2001, says that President Obama’s decision to reduce the funding commitment to the US missile-defense system by $1.4 billion "sends the signal that we do not take the threats of rogue regimes seriously, and are willing to take the risk that current technologies are sufficient to prevent devastating accidents or miscalculations."

Given North Korean actions, Cohen says, this is a big mistake.

"Given the disturbing geopolitical events that are now unfolding, it is imperative that we err on the side of safety," he says. "The consequences are too grave to allow our leadership to claim at some future time that they were taken by surprise."

Cutting this commitment will "embolden North Korea, Iran and other rogue states to pursue missiles of increasing range. It would also confuse our allies and undermine their trust in America’s security guarantees. If the United States is vulnerable to the threat of a missile attack by a rogue state, allies could lose confidence in America’s nuclear deterrent – which could lead nations such as Japan to pursue a nuclear deterrent of their own."

- jpt

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