Republican politicians responded almost reflexively to the North Korean nuclear test on Tuesday by demanding more spending on missile defense programs that have historically proved ineffective at preventing an enemy strike — but are built by companies that have lavished policymakers with campaign cash and political support.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., released a statement calling for the country to “reinvest in missile defense and our military presence in the Pacific.” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called for Obama to “dramatically enhance trilateral missile defense” and declared that Obama should deploy a Lockheed Martin missile defense system in South Korea. Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are among his top donors. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, issued a statement specifically calling for spending on that same program; Lockheed Martin is by far his biggest donor over the course of his congressional career.
Since the early 1990s, politicians of both parties have cited the threat of North Korea to demand funding for an array of missile defense programs that quickly became monumental examples of government waste. Meanwhile, the contractors involved in these projects, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, among others, have manipulated the politics around these programs by funding politicians, pundits, think tanks, and lobbyists behind the never-ending spiral of taxpayer spending.
More than $50 billion has been spent on ineffective missile defense programs so far — the result of efforts that often began by citing the threat of states such as North Korea. Consider: