Policy papers on missile warfare and defense for the 21st century.
Wirtz (US Naval Postgraduate School) and Larsen (Science Applications International Corp.) gather work by a dozen-odd strategy and foreign-policy scholars on what appears to be a fait accompli: the unilateral scrapping of the ABM and other nuclear-weapons treaties of the 1970s and ’80s on the part of the US government, and the development of ballistic-missile defenses against the eventuality of nuclear attack. The restrictions created by the US-Soviet ABM Treaty of 1972, several authors argue, make it difficult, if not impossible, for the US to defend itself adequately, forcing a reliance on the threat of retaliation and on foreign-based missile systems; the development of a national missile defense, they continue, while sure to provoke the ire of allies and potential foes alike, will better safeguard American soil and interests against a host of rogue states, terrorist cells, and rising competitors—chief among them, it seems, China, which, writes special presidential assistant Robert Joseph, “is free-riding on a Russian-American arms control agreement that is no longer in the best interests of Washington and Moscow.” The deployment of missile-defense systems can be effected by the end of the present decade, many of the contributors suggest, making it a matter of some urgency to arrive at a new kind of treaty to accommodate such weapons. In the absence of such an agreement, and under certain scenarios of development, the authors believe, a new arms race is likely to emerge—with China, again, likely to be a key player, probably of more significance than Russia or any other power.
Altogether, a show of support for the current administration’s revival of the Reagan-era Star Wars initiative: useful reading for students of policy and tactics.