The Missile Defense Divide

The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2001 | Go to article overview

The Missile Defense Divide


"Europe's Aversion to NMD" by Justin Bernier and Daniel Keohane, in Strategic Review (Winter 2001), United States Strategic Institute, 67 Bay State Rd., Boston, Mass. 02215.

Why have America's European allies been so reluctant to go along with the U.S. effort to develop a defense against a potential "rogue state" missile attack? In part, they've deemed continued reliance on arms control and nuclear deterrence less risky; they've also worried about Russia's opposition (which has softened recently). And then there's the multibillion-dollar cost. But, say the authors, there's another, oft-ignored reason: "European governments do not believe that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq harbor intentions of using long-range missiles against Europe, even if they will be capable of doing so."

Europe does not object to ballistic missile defense per se. "The Netherlands and Germany, for example, have decided to buy ... a newer version of the Patriot theater missile defense system," note Bernier, a staff member of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, in Washington, and Keohane, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Western European Union Institute for Security Studies, in Paris. However, theater missile defense systems are able to shield only relatively small areas from short-range missiles.

Nor has Europe failed to grasp the rogue states' growing military capabilities. …

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