Protect and Defend, Not Limit and Accommodate: Strategy for the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System

Michaela Dodge /

The book Ballistic Missile Defense: Its Past and Future by Jacques Gansler is yet another contribution to the ongoing debate on the role of ballistic missile defense (BMD) in the U.S. strategic posture. Unfortunately, a middle path to ballistic missile defense proposed in the book stems from incorrect premises about the effects of BMD systems and their role in the protection of the U.S. homeland.

The author argues that it is necessary to negotiate a new Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty that would allow only limited defenses against rogue states but would bar the United States and Russia from threatening one another’s nuclear deterrents. This proposition is inherently illogical, because any “limited” ballistic missile defense system will unavoidably have the potential to threaten Russia’s nuclear weapons. As with the ABM Treaty, Moscow would not hesitate to use all possible tools to retard the development of a U.S. BMD system while preserving its own ability to protect its population, infrastructure, and institutions. (more…)