May 22, 2007

Main Arguments Against a Missile Shield

My take on this goes back to the mid-1980s when I came from CA to DC, in part, to work against Reagan's Star Wars.

On the surface, missile defenses seem intuitive; why not defend yourself against possible nuclear attacks?

There's a subtle, yet powerful reason to the contrary: We don't want ANY future leader to gain a false sense of security in regard to using nuclear weapons. We don't want future generations to slip into treating nuclear weapons like another tool in the tool box (We're nearly at that point today).

Adoption of missile shields crosses a psychological line that suggests wars can be fought with nukes. The only known stable policy is "deterrence," and missile shields undermine the strategic foundation of international security.

The other compelling argument has its roots in ancient military technique. Psychologically, an offensive attack is easier if the attacker has a shield in addition to an offensive weapon. Furthermore, the shield makes the offensive weapon more effective by making the fighting unit (e.g., man, shield, spear) more effective.

The same logic applies to nuclear weapons, but with a dangerous additional logic: The advantage goes to the attacker when both sides have missile shields. Missile defense systems create a psychological slippery slope sequence of logic: Who ever strikes first will destroy many of their opponents nukes before they are launched. This gives the aggressor a better chance of shielding the opponent's weakened nuclear response. In short, missile defenses motivate a first-strike posture, which creates a highly destabilized situation if military tensions ever rise (like the Cuban Missile Crisis).

This sequence of logic has been studied in depth, and was a central reason the US and USSR entered into the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Bush has unilaterally withdrawn from the ABM Treaty.

We now live in a more dangerous World because of this policy shift. Missile shields will create strategic instability, thereby reducing our security.

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." - A. Einstein

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