Ballistic Missile Defense and the Future of American Security: Agendas, Perceptions, Technology, and Policy

Ballistic Missile Defense and the Future of American Security: Agendas, Perceptions, Technology, and Policy

Ballistic Missile Defense and the Future of American Security: Agendas, Perceptions, Technology, and Policy

Ballistic Missile Defense and the Future of American Security: Agendas, Perceptions, Technology, and Policy

Synopsis

American politicians have long been troubled by the question of whether or not to deploy a national missile defense system. The argument has focused upon the questions of cost, both political and fiscal, plus the reliability of the technologies. This study places that debate within the context of an ongoing controversy over the direction of American foreign and defense policy since the 1950s. Since that time several distinct worldviews (labeled Believers, Pragmatists, and Wilsonians) have been articulated. Those worldviews structure how technology tests and costs are evaluated regardless of outcomes. Politics, not technological proficiency, drives policy decisions.

Excerpt

Ballistic missile defense (BMD) as a distinct technological and political issue is now embarking upon its fifth decade of controversy and technological development, dating back to the mid-1950s. in fact, the first consideration of bmd as a concept took place in 1946—two short years after the first V-2 attack fell on London. This long-running political saga reflects many factors, but one major underlying theme has been BMD's presumed capacity to alter international politics in both unknown and unpredictable ways. This work presents an analysis of ballistic missile defense as a policy issue, traces its development (historically and in terms of the worldviews underlying the policy antagonists, politically and technologically), and assesses national missile defense's (NMD) future impact upon U.S. security interests. the stakes are high in that the wrong decisions could lead to possible national military and economic disaster down the road. By its very nature, nmd especially in the nuclear age deals with issues of national life and death. a failed defensive system could conceivably lead to a devastated society because of leadership overconfidence in its effectiveness or if those in power are cowered by enemies' threats due to excessive uncertainty concerning the technology's effectiveness. Effectiveness is measured empirically by NMD's capacity to reliably and repeatedly intercept incoming warheads, including weapons of mass destruction (WMD), in the chaos of battle.

Achieving technical success, however, raises other troubling questions concerning the future shape of world politics. the relationship between the United States and other states is altered significantly and in possibly unforeseen and unfortunate ways if nmd actually works. Therefore, judgments have to be made evaluating the likely reaction of other states to this altered strategic

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