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

By Roger Handberg | Go to book overview

5

Agreeing on NMD or Not?

INTRODUCTION

As is clear, national missile defense (NMD) remains the biggest political bone of contention in the ballistic missile defense (BMD) field while theater missile defense (TMD) is, practically speaking, considered to be a politically done deal. At a very generalized level, the latter remains true, but the pesky technical questions regarding TMD have not necessarily been fully addressed. The dominant assumption seems to be that whatever technical problems presently exist will be successfully resolved when the several theater-level missile systems progress further toward deployment, another example of technological optimism at its finest. Quite obviously, the technological imperative permeates the entire field, with its adherents seizing upon any and all apparent testing successes in order to advance the likelihood of deployment. In fact, opponents counter with some evidence to support their assertions that test results have on occasion been so distorted as to virtually constitute fraud. The most obvious case occurred in 1984 when fudged results were used to convince the Soviets of U.S. success in overcoming the major obstacles to interception success. Retrospectively, it was suggested that the deception was successful in forcing the Soviets to build up their strategic forces, effectively bankrupting themselves in that process. The validity of this latter assertion has been questioned but is immaterial for the present debate. The larger policy issue is the suspicion regarding unreliability of critical evidence for making decisions concerning NMD. Once such deceptions are disclosed, all subsequent test results become subject to challenge and real doubt, an under current impacting the present debate. Ambiguity becomes

-143-

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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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