Breaking Treaties Is a Reckless Tactic

National Catholic Reporter, July 27, 2001 | Go to article overview

Breaking Treaties Is a Reckless Tactic


This month Bush administration zealots put the rush on to force the nation to begin building a questionable and dangerous missile defense shield. The proposal, which for starters would throw $100 billion at a "Star Wars" scheme, is all out of proportion to the threat it purports to answer and threatens to revive the lunacy of the Cold War era.

How much more beneficial it would be to earmark the missile money for public needs such as health care and education reform.

The shield is questionable because it throws water on a fire that does not yet exist -- and might never exist if only our nation preferred diplomatic solutions to war preparations. The defense shield is like installing a $10,000 alarm on a front door while leaving all the other doors and windows open.

The shield is dangerous because its installation would abrogate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, the platform for three decades of nuclear arms control efforts.

The Bush administration would have Americans believe that the ABM treaty is a Cold-War relic. It is not. For decades, the treaty has restrained competition between the United States and the Soviet Union to build increasing numbers of offensive missiles. Since the Cold War's end, it has allowed Russia and America to dismantle portions of their nuclear arsenals without fear that they would be unable to respond effectively to a surprise attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that U.S. violation of the treaty would force Russia to augment its nuclear capability by mounting multiple warheads on its missiles. At the same time, Putin suggested that both the START I and START II treaties would be negated by the U. …

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