About those missile defense cuts…

ABOUT THOSE MISSILE DEFENSE CUTS…. In general, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin (R) is not known for being detail-oriented in her policy critiques. Over the weekend, though, she was in rare form, attacking the Obama administration for proposed cuts to a missile defense network, cuts that Palin believes will leave the nation less safe.

“Reducing Alaska’s defense readiness in these perilous times is a show of weakness, it is not a sign of strength,” Palin said during a celebration in upstate New York. […]

Palin said Alaska’s missile defense system is now more vital than ever, particularly in the wake of North Korea’s recent nuclear and missile tests. She said a missile fired from North Korea could easily reach Alaska and other parts of the country.

“And yet, Washington thinks it’s best now to actually cut defense spending in Alaska by hundreds of millions of dollars,” she said. “Now that is an odd priority there.”

What’s really “odd” is Palin’s argument.

Let’s set the record straight here. The White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have proposed reducing missile defense spending from $10 billion to $9 billion. The missile network in Alaska would still exist, and it would have 30 interceptors.

The significance of the Alaskan program right now is the need to respond to a hypothetical missile attack from North Korea. Since North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is quite small, 30 interceptors are more than sufficient to address the threat (if the highly unlikely attack were to occur). The governor is arguing that, in fact, 44 interceptors are necessary. Why? She didn’t say.

Palin didn’t explain why she perceives this as a “show of weakness,” but the awkwardly-worded criticism doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny. Come to think of it, the same can be said for most of her policy arguments.

Update: As a couple of commenters remind me, all of this is premised on the notion that the defense network actually works — a dubious proposition, to be sure.

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