The Republican Congress, which wants to slash funding for worthy programs like Meals on Wheels for the sick and elderly, has approved a $100M outlay to study the construction of an east coast outpost for the Star Wars missile defense system. Star Wars just won’t go away.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called the House missile system a “replay of the Cold War debate,” according to the June 15 National Journal.The Defense Dept. sees no need for an east coast facility that is supposed to shoot down missiles that the Iranians won’t ever have.
Iran is said to be developing an 800-mile range missile. New York City, a prime target of bad actors everywhere, is 6,131 miles from Tehran.
Reality, though, is not a GOP strong suit. Republicans justify the site because they feel the missile shield the U.S. is developing in Europe will fall behind schedule or collapse due to political pressure. That shield is scheduled to be in place in 2018 to fend off Iranian warheads.
The $100M GOP funding is for scouting potential sites for the east coast boondoggle that would cost hard-pressed taxpayers $4B and up. The GOP wants Star Wars East up and running by 2016.
If the Republicans are dead-set on ramping up a third leg of the “ground-based midcourse defense network,” it should think outside the box. They need to forget about siting interceptors in GOP-crazy South Carolina or Georgia. The GOP should go bold. Make a statement and put the rockets in Fort Tilden, Queens, one of my favorite places. That’s just good PR.
Fort Tilden, which boasts a 360 degree view of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Atlantic, was built in 1917 as part of NYC’s coastal defense system against German attackers. Its batteries were fortified before WWII to prevent its guns from turning on Manhattan, just in case the fort fell to German U-Boat invaders.
Battery Harris (pictured, photo via) was later upgraded to house Nike Ajax and Hercules surface to air nuclear and conventional warheads with a range of 90 miles to take out invading Russians. The Fort was decommissioned in 1974 because it was outdated in the age of intercontinental missiles. The Fort's ruins remain standing.
If the GOP wants to re-fight the Cold War, NYC is willing to pull its weight.
There is a minor obstacle to re-tooling Tilden. The Fort is now part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area.
I’m sure the GOP can muscle the NPS, especially if there’s an opportunity to mock President Obama as being anti-Star Wars in the run-up to the election.