Trump’s North Korea Dilemma: Asking For Billions For Missile Defense Without Freaking People Out

Senior Science Fellow Philip Coyle spoke to BuzzFeed News about the balance President Trump is forced to find between reassurance and asking for funding.

“This is really just throwing good money after bad because we already know that they are not effective,” Philip Coyle, a former assistant secretary of defense who headed the Pentagon’s test and evaluation office from 1994 to 2001, and a senior fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told BuzzFeed News.

He said the Trump administration faces a dilemma in both assuring the nation North Korean missiles can be blocked and asking for more funds to improve missile defense. “Both of those things can’t be true. It can’t be ‘Don’t worry, we got North Korea’ and at the same saying we’re in trouble if we don’t build this up.”

“What this means is that the Trump administration is now doubling down on the idea, the faint hope, that there is a technological solution to missiles, but not only ballistic missiles,” said Coyle. “These are all really tough if not impossible technological problems.”

The Pentagon will have to walk the line between rating how effective the current defense systems are while also making the case for ramping them up, he said.

The last time this review was released, in 2010, Coyle said he was “very surprised to see that the review very much claimed that we were just fine.”

“I knew that Obama didn’t believe that, but it was what the report said,” he said. “If everything is hunky-dory, why do we need all these new systems? So one thing to look for is the degree to which it will hype the threat, since the Pentagon needs a good threat in order to justify this.” Read more