Unless Leon Panetta needs to seek treatment with the Weinermeister—which appears unlikely—he’s a slam dunk to get confirmed.
So as his advance written testimony is unpacked, what are some of the items that came to the top of the Senate’s list?
North Korea’s ballistic missile program, nuclear enrichment activities and 1 million troops are a “growing and direct threat” to the U.S.
OK. But within this are two new questions: how significant a threat is North Korea and how quickly is the threat growing? Additionally, there’s one more question: what will the U.S. do? I already know the answer to the third question: it’s “it depends.”
Statements like ‘difficult choices will have to be made’ are code for ‘the funding ax man cometh’ and leave all sorts of flex for the ax man to cut less favored programs. Perhaps surprisingly, missile defense, at this point, sounds like a more favored program:
[Panetta] also promised to support improvements in the U.S. missile defense program.
“The United States is currently protected against the threat of a limited intercontinental ballistic missile attack from states like North Korea and Iran,” Panetta said. “It is important we maintain this advantage by continuing to improve the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system” that’s deployed in Alaska and California, he said.
Missile defense has shown itself to work and as the world becomes more and more proliferated with nuclear weapons and delivery systems (sorry global zeros, but let’s deal with reality), will likely become a capability the American people will demand more of.
And if that’s so, the Russian will have hurt feelings.