BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE How Big is the Threat?
Bush’s promise • 2000- Campaign pledge to deploy an effective missile shield • Presidential Promise • December 17th, 2002- Promised to have a Ballistic Missile Defense Program running by 2004-2005 • Presidential Address
Is the threat to the United States strong enough to merit rushing an incomplete Ballistic Missile Defense Program? • Important to understand the threat in order to plan an appropriate defense • 2 opposing camps • Proponents of ballistic missile defense • Conservatives • Believe that an imminent threat exists that makes it necessary to speed up our ballistic missile defense program • Opponents of ballistic missile defense • Liberals • Believe that the threat that the United States presently faces from the nuclear states is not great enough to merit rushing a defense program that has not been fully developed
Main points of Disagreement • Testing • Costs • Countermeasures
Proponents Not necessary to test Testing will reveal the secrets of our defense capabilities Current defensive capabilities are sufficient for primitive nuclear missile attacks Test Opponents Only 8 of the 19 tests have been conducted, and with mixed results Tests start out simple and get more complex Only simple tests have been conducted; still in R & D phase Tests that have been conducted have not been accurate because the testing conditions were not realistic Simplified tests Involved “surrogate components” (i.e. slower defensive rockets than the ones that would be used in a real situation; GPS satellites) The government has been misrepresenting the testing success they have had NY Times April 18th, May 18th Wall Street Journal January 14th 2000 Is testing necessary?
Proponents Defense needs to be number one priority of the United States government The nuclear states, specifically North Korea, Russia, China, Iran and Iraq, have made huge technological gains Most countries that have the technology can produce nuclear arms within a matter of months Russia and China have long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States North Korea, Iran and Iraq are within 10 years of having missiles that can reach United States Opponents The government is devoting too much money to ballistic missile defense 10 billion dollars a year too much to spend Spending billions of dollars to defend against a threat that does not exist North Korea not as much of a military threat as a proliferation threat Country low on money- can’t even afford the fuel to keep their fighter pilots in the air It is profitable to sell nuclear secrets and materials Is the present threat great enough to justify the costs of BMD?
Proponents The nations that we face as threats do not possess the ability to produce countermeasures complex enough to deceive our defenses Must keep in mind who it is we are defending against (North Korea’s economic resources; sophistication of Soviet Union) We have prepared for countermeasures which are far more complex than anything the offense could use Opponents Too many unknowns BMD program cannot be pushed forward before we understand how to deal with the countermeasures of the offense We do not yet know what countermeasures are within the technological capabilities of the threatening nuclear states, nor how effective our program would be in defending against them Countermeasures The question of countermeasures
Question: So, what does the rest of America think?Answer: It depends on who you talk to • Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA) • Conducted polls of registered voters in AZ, MS, NH, SC and PA over the past year (most recent 05/26/04) • 78% support the plan to deploy a partial missile defense system in 2004 Insert graph here
The Other Side of Public Opinion: • Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers • April 2000 survey of 1000 adults was conducted by the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, the Council for a Livable World Education Fund, and the Fourth Freedom Forum • 59% support waiting to decide on deployment of national missile defenses until after the 19 tests are complete
How Can This Be? • Contradicting polls results have been published on a continual basis over the past 10 years • Both sides use techniques to skew the results: • Preliminary questions to elevate concerns • Remind people about continuing Russian/ Chinese threat • Introductory clause • “knowing that…” (US cannot currently stop one incoming missile…/ many scientists conclude that it is unlikely such a system will work…) • Compare costs to another cause (popular/unpopular) • Health care and education/ peacekeeping in Bosnia
What Does This Mean? • Poll results do not always give an accurate representation of public opinion • The ease at which the opinions of respondents can be skewed could indicate a general lack of knowledge of Ballistic Missile Defense, and lack of exposure to all sides of the issue • Political propaganda, world events, and the media are also reasons for constant fluctuations in results
Work Cited • Special Thanks To: • Dean Wilkening • Michael May • Carlos Seligo • Dena Slothower • Work Cited • Butler, Richard. Fatal Choice. Cambridge: Westview Press, 2001. • Carter, Ashton B. ed. and N. Schwartz, ed. Ballistic Missile Defense. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1984. • www.clw.org/coalition/pollmd2.htm • http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/ohanlon/20040412.htm • http://www.state.gov/t/ac/rls/fs/2001/4892.htm • http://www.ucsusa.org/ • http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021217.html • http://www.clw.org/pub/clw/coalition/polling.htm#bmd