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

By Roger Handberg | Go to book overview

3

Breakdown of the Old Verities

INTRODUCTION

Pursuit by the United States of ballistic missile defense (BMD), at least in the present era, reflects the realization that certain verities or truths that have long informed international politics no longer appear to have the same weight. Simply put, deterrence, it appears, has broken down as an effective tool for managing international relations at least from the perspective of the United States. This reported breakdown reflects both objective changes in the scope and nature of American military power and in the psychological aspects inherent in the concept of deterrence. The latter, it is argued, have changed dramatically, always however in the direction of steadily declining threat credibility. Why all this is occurring lies somewhat outside our focus, but the political effect has been to further fuel the drive for BMD deployment especially at the national level. Such massive uncertainty increases the political drive to seek out other avenues for maximizing national security. National Missile Defense (NMD) becomes a refuge against the avoidable storms of a constantly changing and ever more threatening world according to its proponents. Opponents argue that other more traditional means are preferable because they are both effective and flexible while NMD handles only one aspect, the worst-case scenario, a missile attack upon the United States. This disagreement concerning BMD's ultimate effectiveness fuels the debate. Here, however, the focus, hones in upon the changing world and its impact upon U.S. fears. Clearly, other methods for insuring American security notably the diplomatic route, have not been totally abandoned. Rather, the attitude expressed becomes one in which diplomatic options are either more perfunctorily applied or readily discarded if instant gratification does not occur. Gratification in this context is defined as agreement with U.S. objectives.

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Ballistic Missile Defense, Still Trying After All These Years 37
  • 3 - Breakdown of the Old Verities 75
  • 4 - Why Missile Defense? 109
  • 5 - Agreeing on Nmd or Not? 143
  • Notes 167
  • 6 - Deployment Options or Guessing About the Shape of Things to Come 169
  • 7 - Pursuing Future Policy or Taking Counsel of One's Worst Fears 207
  • Selected References 241
  • Index 247
  • About the Author 255
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