September 2009


Iranian Missile

Iranian Missile

By: Brian Sikma

The past few weeks have seen a rapid series of developments take place with respect to our nation’s foreign policy goals. In the first part of September we saw the President continue his reluctance to speak out forcefully against Iran’s nuclear pursuits. Iran has repeatedly insisted that it is enriching uranium for peaceful and civilian purposes. To believe this line, and assume that Iran is limiting its program to only meeting its energy needs, is overly optimistic at best and terribly naïve at worst.

Former Senators Dan Coats and Charles Robb, and retired General Charles Wald, recently analyzed the Iranian situation and concluded that by 2010 Iran will have enough weapons-grade uranium enriched to fuel a nuclear device. Their conclusion factored in only the enrichment plant at Natanz and was made before the revelation that there is another small enrichment facility built into a mountain at Qom. The addition of this plant could further reduce the time line that Iran is working with on this project. Since the concept of a nuclear armed Iran became a serious possibility, observers, analysts, and other experts have repeatedly updated their projections with shorter and shorter estimates for when Iran will become only the second rogue state with nuclear capabilities.

Beginning after the last day of the Bush Administration, our nation has lacked a comprehensive approach to dealing with the building storm swirling around Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In the free world the nation that has continued to pose a significant moral and potential military objection to Iran’s action has been our ally in the Middle East: Israel. While Washington continues to solace itself with platitudes of peace and promises of dialogue, there is reason to believe that some in the position to shape US policy with Iran are hoping that Israel will play the bad cop role in this precipitous situation. But this is not an instance in which our country can afford to be a part-time, one-part player on the world stage.

In this near crisis we must not continue to abdicate our national position of responsibility and leave it to others to resolve this problem. Every diplomatic and military option must be on the table. Whether or not we like this obligation is irrelevant because our position in the world, the magnitude of the threat posed directly to us by Iran, and the grim consequences of inaction compel us to do something. Unfortunately, doing nothing or resorting to dialogues not backed up by a common commitment to realistic goals or a firm final policy position all form an array of poor choices we can choose from.

Related to the forward progress of Iran in acquiring nuclear weapons and perfecting and testing delivery systems is our voluntary withdrawal of key missile defense elements from Europe. In a sudden, though not unexpected move, President Obama surrendered the diplomatic achievements made by some of his predecessors in announcing that we will not deploy 10 missile interceptors to Poland and build an advanced radar and tracking station in the Czech Republic. Although they came under intense pressure from Moscow to not cooperate with the United States, these nations chose freedom over following the heavy-handed dictates of their former masters.

In making the brave choice to become part of our nation’s global missile defense system, Poland and the Czech Republic put their faith in us and in the success of our policy. The people of these countries and their leaders vividly recall what it was like to live in oppression and since they have escaped their shackles they have pursued liberty and state sovereignty with zeal. Their decision to become an integral part of our effort to neutralize the threat of WMD-tipped ICBMs was not only one of cold decision-making, but also a symbol of their willingness to put national sovereignty ahead of regional appeasement, to reinforce their separation with Russia, and assert their own security needs and their own view of what must be done to protect against 21st Century threats.

Our decision to abandon full-scale development of missile defense in Europe not only undermines the position that Poland and the Czech Republic have taken on their regional stage, it ungratefully leaves them to bear the shame of having to explain why they put their trust in a super power that is only interested in keeping the commitments it finds convenient. These nations took a risk with us and by extension we have a duty to lead them well. Abruptly folding the alliance and leaving them with nothing to show for their risk exposure discredits our credibility with the nations that matter.

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

Extending beyond the consequences for our European policy, eliminating missile defense initiatives in Europe dramatically hurts our capacity effectively respond to the Iranian threat before a catastrophic event materializes. By presenting a bolder diplomatic front – something the present administration has not done – and backing such forceful words with meaningful action both inside the region and within the ranges of Iran’s missile capabilities, we can achieve a far more meaningful result than we are on track to get right now. The old adage to speak softly and carry a big stick still rings true today, and replacing it with unfounded hope and unwise change carries a heavy penalty.

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By: State Rep. Wes Culver

The American health care system is ailing and policymakers at the national level are experimenting with various prescriptions trying to determine which one will cure the patient.  If we are not careful though, in our search for a cure we may end up failing to fix what is wrong with the system and harming what is already right with it.  I believe that our health care system can be fixed by giving it a strong dose of patient oriented reform that puts individuals and their doctors at the center of the system and forces third-parties to take a back seat role.  Overreaching federal regulation, heavily regulated insurance companies, and overzealous trial lawyers should not be in the driver’s seat of this vehicle.

For years we have looked on the health care sector as something different and unique from other consumer products or services.  While it certainly possesses dimensions that other sectors do not have, it is not too unique to be exempted from the innovative mindset that has generated advanced technology and better products at a reduced cost in other areas of our economy.  If we can make high quality electronic devices widely available at an affordable price, I think it is time for us to look at harnessing the principles that made that happen and put them to good use lowering the cost of health care and increasing our accessibility to that care.

The problem we must grapple with today in improving our health care system is not one of quality, but of affordability and accessibility.  Today, 85% of Americans are satisfied with the quality of care they receive from doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.  Yet even as the majority of our population approves of the job that our medical professionals and institutions are doing, no one is satisfied with the rising cost of that care.  From 2000 to 2008 the annual cost of employer provided health insurance rose from $6,438 per family to $12,680 per family.   Our nation annually spends $2.4 trillion on health care.

According to the President and Democrat members of Congress, the best way to control rising health care costs and increase accessibility to health insurance is to create a “public option” insurance plan that puts the federal government in charge of your medical care.  Observing the incompetency of Medicaid and the trillions of dollars in unfunded obligations in Medicare, expanding the federal government’s role in the health care sector is a bad idea.  Furthermore, our neighbor to the north, Canada, has been on a sort of public option health care program for decades and they recently concluded that the system has failed and now they are moving away from the direction the President wants to take us.

If the solution offered by Washington, D.C. is wrong, what can we do to fix our health care system?  I am proposing that Indiana do three things at the State level to lower costs, improve accessibility, and advance the quality of care that Hoosiers receive.  First, we should eliminate the mandate that our state places on insurance companies that their health insurance plans contain certain policy elements.  This mandate discourages insurance companies from competing in Indiana and limits Hoosiers to choosing from plans that might not be the best ones for them.  Second, we should allow Hoosiers to buy insurance from companies not located in Indiana and not currently competing in the Indiana insurance market.  By breaking down this barrier that surrounds our state, we can foster a more dynamic and competitive environment that gives Hoosiers access to more affordable health insurance.  Third, we can institute a system that calls for price transparency in all medical procedures.  Just as you expect to know what a particular item or service will cost you in another sector, you deserve to know what a particular health care procedure or service will cost you.

By moving forward at the state level with reforms that do not involve costly, inefficient and wasteful government programs that dictate how much health care you can access, we can make Indiana a leader in the area of affordable health care.  It’s time for us to once again become an innovator and build a better future for ourselves and those who will use the system after us.

State Rep. Wes Culver represents the 49th District in the Indiana House of Representatives.  Any questions or comments about health care can be directed to him by e-mailing healthcare@electwesculver.com.