ROCKETS’ RED GLARE by James J. Wirtz


Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics
Email this review


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.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8133-6465-7
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001