Hazards of going over the cliff

Hazards of going over the cliff

The Associated Press story, “Democrats: Go over fiscal cliff,” in the Nov. 14 Vindicator mentioned how going over the “fiscal cliff” could affect taxpayers, the economy and financial markets, but neglected to note that Iran could see it as a green light to continue enriching uranium in pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. cannot credibly threaten Iran while simultaneously slashing $500 billion from a military worn out by a decade of war. These “devastating” cuts would create a “substantial risk of not meeting our defense needs” according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Worse yet, by cutting all defense programs, including our essential homeland missile defense, the fiscal cliff would leave us vulnerable to an Iranian nuclear attack. This doesn’t make fiscal or political sense; homeland missile defense costs too little (less than one percent of DOD’s budget) to help reduce the deficit and an increasingly impressive testing record has won the support even of top Democrats like President Obama. A nonpartisan panel of experts at the National Research Council suggests that expanding the current homeland defense system is the most cost-effective method of defending against Iranian ballistic missiles.

Going over the fiscal cliff could encourage a confrontation with Iran for which we would be ill prepared.

James A. Lyons Jr., Warrenton, Va.

The writer is a retired U.S. Navy admiral.