Shield of Dreams: Missile Defense and U.S.-Russian Nuclear Strategy

By Van Nederveen, Gilles | Air & Space Power Journal, May/June 2012 | Go to article overview

Shield of Dreams: Missile Defense and U.S.-Russian Nuclear Strategy


Van Nederveen, Gilles, Air & Space Power Journal


Shield of Dreams: Missile Defense and U.S. -Russian Nuclear Strategy by Stephen J. Cimbala. Naval Institute Press (http: //www .usni.org/navalinstitutepress), 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 2008, 256 pages, $24.00 (softcover), ISBN 978-1-59114-117-4.

Stephen J. Cimbala' s Shield of Dreams offers more than a traditional overview of and discourse on missile defense. In this well-written text, the author seeks to show the reader how strategic force models with different force-structure configurations would affect any missile defense configuration. A nuclear strategist who published extensively on superpower force structures during the Cold War, Cimbala has moved on to the twenty-first century, with its multipolarity and nonstate actors-both of which have an effect on strategy and new defense calculations. Missile defense has come to the forefront in terms of political and strategic relationships because the stability that once defined relations between the United States and USSR regarding delivery systems for strategic nuclear weapons and warheads has shifted to the uncertainty associated with smaller deterrent forces and the proliferation of nuclear weapons in numerous nations in South Asia.

Tracing nuclear arsenals from the early Cold War years to the present, Cimbala explains, from a nuclear strategy standpoint, how defense factored into US-Soviet weapons development. During the second nuclear age, when Russia relied on its nuclear force structure to maintain its great-power status, the United States chose to abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to start the deployment of a national ballistic missile defense establishment. To date, these deployments in California and Alaska are designed to protect against a limited threat from North Korea. As the United States sought to expand its defense screen to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and into the former Warsaw Pact countries of Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia's angry reaction gave prominence to the missile defense debate. The current administration, which changed the Bush-era plan to a more mobile, maritimebased defense, is working with the alliance at the Lisbon ministerial to reach a consensus.

Not a mere history of missile defense, this book utilizes sophisticated computer models to lay out what force structure would best suit each superpower's national interest and would establish a level of trust between the United States and Russia. …

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