We Need Housing, Education And Health Care More Than Radar

Hawaii’s congressional delegation is hopefully dropping its push for the $1.9 billion radar project the Pentagon says it doesn’t want, isn’t needed and is already obsolete.

The politics of the opportunity at first glance seem irresistible: Bring home to the district $1.9 billion of economic development PLUS protect Hawaii from future missile attacks.

What’s not to like?

Well, for starters there is the waste of taxpayer funds, the increased militarization of our island (and the planet), the inevitable negative environmental impacts, the false economy this expansion would create, the inflated housing costs and the continued desecration of ceded lands.

The political push for the money is no doubt a well-intended basic desire to “take care of the district” by bringing home the bacon of jobs and economic development. While the goal of supporting Hawaii’s economy is a worthy one, the path of increased military spending, especially on this particular project, is not.

Likewise the fear-based rationale, while politically compelling, is a false dilemma.

Twice now the Pentagon itself has said they do not need or want the $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar – Hawaii project. The widely read publication Defense News reported that the director of the Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral Jon Hill, in February 2020 said that the agency decided to hit the brakes on its plans to set up the radars in the Pacific, instead planning to take a new look at the sensor architecture in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command region.

Hill noted, said the article, that the area is covered by a forward-deployed AN/TPY-2 radar in Hawaii, the deployable Sea-Based X-Band radar and mobile radars on Aegis ships that can be repositioned as needed to address near-term threats.

An artist’s rendering of the proposed $1.9 billion Homeland Defense Radar – Hawaii. Missile Defense Agency

My father was a career Navy man, a chief boatswains mate who served honorably for over 30 years. I have friends and relatives who are veterans and who now serve in the Middle East. I am proud and thankful for their service, and I believe the United States must maintain a strong defense.

However, enough is enough. According to numerous public sources, annual military spending by the United States was $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38% of global military expenditures.

China was second at $261 billion, followed by India at $71 billion and Russia in fourth place at $65.1 billion. For some context: North Korea spent $3.6 billion, Iran spent between $12 and $20 billion, and Afghanistan $0.23 billion.

In addition to far outspending virtually every other country in the world arming ourselves, the United States is also the top seller of military arms to the rest of the world, delivering 76% more material than runner-up Russia.

According to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute study reported in Defense News, “The U.S. provided major arms — defined as air defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles and satellites, among other material — to 96 countries in those five years, with half of the weapons going to the Middle East.”

It’s well past time for the madness to stop and for Hawaii to lead.

We don’t need no stinking radar. What we need is housing, education and medical care. And if there is extra federal money laying around, perhaps we can expand funding for the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.

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