In the April 27 TGI article “Gabbard: Hawaii at risk,” our representative Tulsi Gabbard questioned the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing about North Korea’s ability to launch a nuclear missile attack on Hawaii. Both agreed it has the capability and because Hawaii is highly militarized, it is “a prime target for North Korea’s aggression.” They agreed as well that strengthening the U.S. missile defense infrastructure is the default response.
No U.S. intelligence agency has said North Korea has a capability to fire a nuclear missile to Hawaii at this time. And in South Korea, despite the dire threats that war is imminent from the U.S. and North Korean leaders, the economy is thriving, no embassies are sending personnel home, suburbs are expanding up to the north-south border and tourism is flourishing.
In a February 2016 report, the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that the MD system “has not demonstrated through flight testing that it can defend the U.S. homeland.”
Last July the prestigious Union of Concerned Scientists in a 47-page report concluded U.S. missile defense “has not demonstrated the ability to stop an incoming missile under real-world conditions”.
So far simulated attacks are scripted, and so are far less challenging than an actual attack. Tumbling warheads, multiple warheads, warheads accompanied by decoys or delivered by supersonic vehicles, none of these challenges have been addressed with any reliable competency by the MD systems.
In the words of Lt. General Henry A Obering III, former Missile Defense Agency director, “I am confident that the kill vehicle will work, But we have yet to prove that.”
The companies on the receiving end of the $40 billion and counting MD program have politically located the manufacture of these and other weapons to all fifty states. That way nearly every member of Congress, especially those with oversight over weapons procurement like Hawaii’s Representatives Gabbard and Hanabusa, can receive five-digit campaign contributions from these war for profit corporations, then appropriate billions more to the already bloated Pentagon budget (already comprises more than half the federal discretionary budget) and say, “it’s to provide jobs back home.”
Her symbiotic relationship with the war industry colors Tulsi’s remark at the April 17 town hall, that big money interests are driving policy. The big money interests, the ones that profit from war, the ones that Tulsi enables, are certainly influencing if not driving foreign policy. The result is the endless wars that have become our new normal.
To her credit, Representative Gabbard has most recently put out an appeal to reinvigorate the peace movement.
But she has first to resolve the contradiction of her unwavering advocacy for military expansion. When Madeleine Albright was Secretary of State she said, “What’s the point of having this superb military if you can’t use it?” You can’t think like that and lead a peace movement.
Representative Gabbard should stop scaring people with an exaggerated threat of North Korea, then promising a false hope that missiles will protect us. In 1994 and again in 2003 North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons program in exchange for security pledges. Both agreements broke down, but it shows the promise of a peaceful settlement.
We should ask that she take on a much harder task; apply the same innovative diplomacy skills she exhibited in Syria, bypassing the politically corrupt U.S. foreign policy establishment to get at, first hand, the needs and wants of all sides in Korea and the Pacific region that have to be addressed before durable peace can happen.
And the peace dividend can be used to raise the salaries of public school teachers that Tulsi expressed great concern about.
Kip Goodwin is a resident of Wailua.