Western European Arms Control Perspectives and SDI
The putative impact of SDI on the arms control process, as well as on existing arms control agreements, drives to a large extent Western European perspectives on SDI. The central purpose of this chapter is to elucidate French, West German, and British arms control policy and examine Western European arms control-related concerns about SDI.
Many European critics of SDI view it as a choice between SDI, on the one hand, and arms control/ABM Treaty, on the other. As David Watt notes, "The Europeans--like some American critics--are worried that development of the SDI system will greatly complicate and probably destroy the whole arms control dialogue with the Russians and hence revive tensions in Europe."1
In fact, this is a false choice, since SDI research is consistent with both arms control and the ABM Treaty. It is only when BMD deployments (beyond that permitted under the treaty) begin to intrude upon the ABM Treaty that a choice will have to be made. To be sure, official European support for SDI as a research program can clearly be distinguished from European support for BMD deployments. European governments to date continue to endorse the 1972 ABM Treaty and couch their support for SDI as a research program consistent with the treaty. European critics of SDI and BMD deployments see SDI as a clear threat to the ABM Treaty and the arms control process that it represents.
This judgment, made by SDI critics, presumes that: (a) arms control has contributed to Western security; (b) the ABM Treaty, in particular, is still in Western interests; and (c) SDI will unravel the entire arms control enterprise, leading to an arms race in space. But most important, such a judgment ignores the distinction between SDI as a research program--which is what it is currently--and SDI as a deployment decision.