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After reading the reactions of Hawaiian residents to the alert of an incoming ballistic missile, I decided I would not want to survive a nuclear attack.

Maybe I just like my comfort.

Several of the Hawaiians acknowledged while huddling in the bathroom of their modest wooden homes that their attempts at taking cover were all probably pointless.

Any type of nuclear strike within a few hundred miles — New York City, for instance — could essentially make our region unlivable, or worse, all those down-staters might evacuate into our backyards.

My outlook got even worse after reading Rep. Elise Stefanik’s gloomy op-ed published on the Washington Examiner website that was ecstatically shared by her office with a cheery “in case you missed it” introduction on Thursday.

I wish I had.

In her piece, Stefanik provided Hollywood with the latest end-of-the-world scenario while managing to get in another plug for Fort Drum.

Stefanik, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, paints a picture of nuclear Armageddon, between the advances in North Korean nuclear technology and a potential second threat from Iran.

She points out the inadequacies of our current missile defense system located on the West Coast, acknowledging that testing has shown just a 56 percent success rate in intercepting incoming missiles. She says the two West Coast missile defense sites would not be able to protect us on the East Coast.

She further writes that “surveillance photos taken over North Korea depict workers assembling what analysts believe to be an operational ballistic missile submarine,” while acknowledging ongoing threats from Russia and China, leading me to practice tuck-and-rolls with the dog after I got home from work that night.

The dog wagged her tail.

The prime point of Stefanik’s Zoloft-inducing commentary is apparently to make a case for building a $3.6 billion East Coast missile defense site at Fort Drum.

It turns out that the Missile Defense Agency is set to release its review, assessing the need for a third missile defense site, next month.

Rep. Stefanik has made it very clear in her two terms that what is good for Fort Drum is good for all of us, especially since Fort Drum essentially props up the entire Watertown economy.

Part of my concern about this project is that the Pentagon has never asked for money to build the third missile site.

It was the idea of Congress.

That scares me even more than the idea of a Korean nuclear submarine surfacing in the Thousand Islands.

Members of Congress have been driving this idea from the beginning in an attempt to steer defense contracts to their districts. Military bases in Ohio and Michigan are also vying for the project.

A thumbs-down assessment by the Union of Concerned Scientists argues East Coast missiles won’t necessarily improve our defenses anyway. After all, it only takes one to slip through.

If Rep. Stefanik is right about the nuclear nightmare unfolding around the world, then our foreign policy needs some tweaking and begs the question, why are we still in Afghanistan?

I don’t think we can remind ourselves enough that the $600 billion the United States spends on defense is greater than the next eight countries combined, yet the politicians insist we are underfunded.

After 17 years in Afghanistan, there is still not a vision of what the end looks like.

I doubt most of us can explain why we are still there, and more importantly, how we get out.

I’d like to see Congress spend some time on that issue, then worry about defensive missiles that work only half the time.

If we want to do what is best for the troops, let’s get the 10th Mountain Division out of Afghanistan, bring them home to upstate New York and have them build bunkers so every family in the Adirondacks can survive a nuclear holocaust.

Personally, I’m not interested.

Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at You can read his blog, “The Front Page,” daily at or his updates on Twitter at



Ken Tingley is Editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y. and writes a regular blog called "The Front Page."

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