Iran will not stop short of developing a nuclear weapon unless it thinks the United States is able and willing to respond with military force ("Iran: Uranium enrichment to be expedited," Web, Wednesday). Yet the unprecedented defense cuts that are part of the "fiscal cliff" could undermine the credibility of U.S. military capabilities, effectively prompting Iran to call our bluff.
Airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities would prompt counterstrikes against allies or troops in the region, potentially forcing the United States to respond with broader naval and air attacks as well as ground troops. Yet, we'd be going to war with a military eviscerated by the "devastating" fiscal cliff defense cuts, to quote Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.
In the worst-case scenario, Iran could threaten to launch a nuclear long-range ballistic missile at a U.S. city -- a capability Tehran is developing. The independent National Research Council recommends strengthening our missile defenses against Iran by expanding our homeland missile defense, known as the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. Proposed budget cuts could cancel these needed improvements despite the fact that the budget for GMD is so small that eliminating it would not significantly reduce the deficit.
Mindless defense cuts might save pennies today but will cost us dearly tomorrow by exposing us to threats like a nuclear Iran.
CAPT. ARNE PEDERSEN
U.S. Army, retired
President, Human Capital Management
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