Sen. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), the Senate minority whip, spoke with NRO this morning. It is becoming “increasingly clear,” he says, that Senate Republicans will “likely take some kind of action” in the coming days to oppose President Obama’s decision to abandon our missile-defense plan in Eastern Europe.
“Like most of my colleagues, I’m not shocked that the administration would change the policy,” says Kyl, “but I have great bewilderment about how they changed it. It looks like a transparent play to the Russians. I’m mostly troubled by the fact that now the United States will be less able to credibly pursue our agenda abroad because of the perception that we will cave in to demands.”
“This undercuts our national defense,” says Kyl. “With other players in the Middle East, especially those interested in throwing in their lot with us, it’s questionable whether they will stick with us. Our allies will have to ask: ‘Can the United States be trusted when the going gets tough?’”
“Other than the obvious effect that this will have on our protection from an Iranian missile attack, the most serious consequence of this new policy is the damage it causes to the United States in international affairs,” says Kyl. “That’s why we will continue to engage in a public debate. There are still some decisions that can be made to ameliorate the effects of this. Not all of the final decisions have been made.”
What the American people need to know about this story, Kyl says, is that President Obama’s decision to abandon long-range ballistic missiles as an effective tool in our arsenal will make the United States less able to fully counter potential threats. “The advantage we have with [a long-range missile shield] is that if Iran were to launch a missile, we could detect its trajectory towards the U.S. early, thanks to our interceptor battery in Poland and our radar in the Czech Republic.”
“The Iranians have hundreds of medium-range missiles,” says Kyl, “and the rationale of the president’s decision is that Iran doesn’t have the technology for [long-range ballistic missiles]. Remember, they say that there is a five-year lag time for getting long-range missiles into place, but it’s difficult to calibrate the true length of that window. This is not like producing tennis balls. If you can figure that you can predict exactly how their capabilities will look five-years out, fine, but the world doesn’t work that way.”