Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics

By Schloemann, Carl | Naval War College Review, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics


Schloemann, Carl, Naval War College Review


Wirtz, James J., and Jeffrey A. Larsen, eds. Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics. Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 2001. 352pp. $28.50

When President George W. Bush made his remark about the "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address, he publicly exposed the ballistic missile threat Iran, Iraq, and North Korea pose to the United States and its allies. So far, media concern has concentrated only on his name-calling. Rockets' Red Glare explores the missile defenses designed to counteract the threat from these countries.

James J. Wirtz, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, and Jeffrey A. Larsen, a senior policy analyst of the Science Applications International Corporation, edited this book, which is an anthology of papers written to explore the implications of national missile defense (NMD). Contributors had a common assumption- that NMD will be deployed in a national security environment with either a modified antiballistic missile (ABM) treaty or no antiballistic missile treaty at all. This assumption allowed them to focus on the strategic level consequences of an NMD deployment; the editors then asked them to examine three levels of NMD deployment. These are "Limited Defense in a Cooperative Setting, "Enhanced Defenses and the Limits of Cooperation," and "Unlimited Defenses Unconstrained by Treaty."

Wirtz and Larsen organized their anthology in these three major parts. The "ABM Regime" provides historical background. Kerry Kartchner, the State Department's senior representative to the Standing Consultative Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, researched the origins of the ABM Treaty. Robert Joseph (special assistant to the president and senior director for proliferation strategy, counterproliferation, and homeland defense) reviewed the changes in the political-military landscape. Dennis Ward, a professional staff member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services, examined changes in technology since the inception of the ABM Treaty and their impact on both offensive and defensive systems.

Part 2 is entitled "Defense, Arms Control, and Crisis Stability." Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, takes the lead by looking at the ramifications of NMD deployment on U.S. politics. Richard Harknett, associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, focuses on how the strategic landscape will change with NMD deployment. Julian Schofield, an assistant professor at Concordia University, Montreal, analyzes NMD deployment in a multilateral arms control environment.

Part 3, "Regional Responses to National Missile Defense," divides the world outside the United States into regions, and in some instances specific countries, examining the effect NMD deployment may have. …

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