By: Michael P. C. Carns, Jacques Gansler, C. Richard Nelson, Walter B. Slocombe
Missile defenses involve far more than simply technical responses to technical problems; they have a profound policy and strategic dimension. First of all, missile defenses are part, but only part, of the response to the challenge of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery. Second, issues of other countries’ cooperation with the United States on defenses – whether for the United States itself or for their own territory – usually raise sensitive issues for the relationships between those countries and their neighbors. Third, on the strategic dimension, missile defenses affect strategic stability in terms of the U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons balance, despite Russia’s very mild response to U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.