Nuclear Weapons and the ABM Debate At the beginning of our time on this earth, mankind was learning to stand up. Upon walking a good many steps on this world, mankind moved across the lands living off of its fruit and meat. Then we decided to stop moving and mankind developed cultivation skills to better serve us. Since then mankind has grown by leaps and bounds over the kingdoms and empires of old. Growth was spurred by conquest. It was almost as if man was born to kill or be killed.
Although riddled with turmoil the age that would surpass these days would always be over the cliff of a far horizon. These events passed in cycles. Peace to follow war. Aggression came from suppression. Mankind moved through the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution in the same cycles only to develop to a more complex system of beautiful and tragic events. As the most tragic event to ever fall from the skies came the atomic bomb that shook the world into the nuclear age.
Ever since this devastating event, the entire world is being held hostage by the people in power of these objects of destruction. As with any hostile situation, any person would want to prevent the offensive acts of an aggressor to end in bloodshed. However, this is all too different when dealing with the definitive defense of nuclear weapons. One can't merely deter an attack that can potentially destroy an entire city.
This is what started the entire anti-ballistic missile debate. In this paper I will discuss three major points that I feel help support my position of being against the development of ABM systems: cost, effectiveness, and focus. What are the basic forces behind ABM deployment and what do they really demand? A considerable answer to this question may be found in the testimony of Donald Hornig, Lyndon Johnson's Special Assistant for Science and Technology and Chairman of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC). Hornig served in these capacities for five years, from 1964 through 1968. He therefore had had the opportunity to watch the parade of the various versions of ABM from a grandstand seat for as long a time as anyone. Like all the other former Special Assistants to the President for Science and Technology, he opposed the deployment of ABM regarding the "Safeguard system." He said "If I were convinced that the protection of a credible deterrent was indeed the eventual goal and that Safeguard was the best way to protect that deterrent, I would support it.
But the uneasy feeling persists that although Presidents may change, Secretaries of Defense may come and go, the philosophies enunciated by political leaders may change, and the design of our ABM system hardly changes at all. It includes the same radars, the same rockets, and largely the same deployment which was contemplated for the "heavy" defense. Safeguard continues to look like a first step toward a much bigger, more expensive and still ineffective system." (York 213) This brings me to my first point: cost. The ABM appeared to have all the characteristics of a solution in search of a problem. This characteristic shows up all too often in defense research and development programs, especially in the field of nuclear weaponry. A possibly fundamental reason why the ABM decision came up in 1969 was that ten years earlier Secretary of Defense McElroy, in dividing up the space and missile roles and missions among the three services, assigned the ABM to the Army as its only sophisticated missile program.
This decision created a situation in which for many years the lives and careers of many able persons had been closely entwined with the life and fate of one single program: the Army's ABM. This not only included the civilians employed in the program office and by the main contractors, it also included uniformed personnel and a slew of part-time advisers at all levels. The testimony given by persons who were part-time advisers to the defense establishment and who were also in favor of the deployment of the present ABM system, they for the most part favor Safeguard not as an end in itself, not for the purposes which the President laid down, but rather as a prototype of something else much bigger and much more complex and enormously more expensive. They wanted a grand system which they hoped could protect not only the deterrent but also the rest of what goes to make up the United States of America. (York 214) They wanted to do a job which certainly couldn't be done even with pixie dust.
Looking at the problem this way, we can see why it is almost impossible for the United States to build even a "thin" ABM system. However, during the 1969 ABM debates, several ways for making a more effective system were discussed. These usually involved both making the system thicker with much larger amounts of equipment and removing the most serious spots of attack. Some suggested that this last be done by duplicating or even tripling the large missile-site radars. Others suggested that the radar part of the system be completely redesigned with the objective of replacing the current large single radar with a large number of small cheap radars. (York 217) Such ideas could certainly be a part of a system that would be effective in a political implication.
However, such a system would be extremely expensive and would make a difference only in circumstances that poised everything else as looking favorable to a preemptive attack. In the 1960's the U. S. had spent $20 billion on ABM research and development.
The Pentagon defense budget in 1969 was now up to $81 billion. In 1968 the world spent $200 billion for armaments. It is the responsibility of the civilians in our society to determine priorities. (Herbst 4) After assessing how much this system would cost, there was the second question of was it going to work and was it going to be effective. There are three fundamental questions that one could ask about it working. First, will it work on the test range? That is, will it regularly and reliably intercept the best mock ups we know how to make of enemy warheads? Studying this question is an essential part of the design and development of any system.
Experimentally verifying these conditions in a test range will give a high promise that such confidence may be obtained. An ABM system that works only under these circumstances is a definite possibility in developing. Second, will it really work when the "balloon goes up"? That is, if an enemy launches a real warhead at a time of his choosing, will an operational unit manned by regular troops be able to intercept it? Here we are dealing again with the difference between the test range and the real world. It is impossible to be absolutely certain to this type of question. For these military systems we have to rely on theoretical predictions in dealing with it. However, such predictions are much more difficult to make about defense systems than about offensive systems.
The reason for this is to be found in certain differences between offensive and defensive missiles. Once an offensive warhead is finally on its way, it is on target until it contacts the ground or arrives at some predetermined height, at which time it will detonate. A defensive system has only some seconds to find its way through the deceptive devices and tactics of the total offensive system and then explode its warhead at precisely the correct time and place, neither of which is known before the battle starts. The differences, therefore, between the test range and the real world matter much more for defensive missiles than offensive missiles.
There isn't any developed ABM system which would lead anyone to believe this "Will it work" question could deserve an affirmative conclusion outside of the testing areas. The third response of the "Will it work" question is largely political rather than technological which makes it by far the most important. Will it help its possessor to achieve some particular political objective? Will it contribute to deterring war? Will it make a preemptive attack more promising? The answers to these questions, unlike the answers to the first two, do not depend directly on what the technological facts really are, but rather on what the political and military leadership on each side thinks they may be. Presumably, someone planning a preemptive attack would make a most serious attempt to estimate conservatively just how much damage the retaliation that such an attack inevitably provoked would wreak on his own country.
(York 216) That is why it is difficult in assessing the decision-making of your opponent. If they have something to lose themselves, they probably won't risk losing it as a result of some retaliatory event involving ballistic missiles. However, it is debated that those in a position to strike may do so in a different fashion making it quite difficult for the government to blame any one country. Thus, possession of an ABM system could produce just enough false confidence to make a holocaust more likely. Remarkably many over the years have said to the effect that defenses were needed in order to "stiffen the backbone of the American people." (York 218) In other words, many people want such defenses because they want the possibility of nuclear war to be unthinkable and hence less of a deterrent to other types of foreign political affairs. This, however, is a serious problem because nuclear weapons will be used as a leverage of force in groups and even if we spend a vast amount of money on a system that might not even work in the end, it gives great incentive for an opposing force to use any means necessary to strike where we least expect it.
We are essentially putting all our eggs in one basket. Apparently, over the last forty some years, the development of a missile defense system has only been a fairy-tale story challenging the likes of "Star Wars." There never was the funding and the support that the system needed to really take off. However, not even a year after the tragic September 11 th attacks were carried out, President Bush unilaterally withdrew from the ABM treaty that the United States had signed withthe USSR back in 1972. He said that the changing times that the world was experiencing called for a new plan of order which needed a missile defense system implemented in order to fully prevent any similar occurrences of 9/11 in the future. Although the now-popular term "homeland defense" implicitly suggests that absolute security is achievable, many Americans do not fully recognize that the United States has been vulnerable to missile attack for decades. A presidential initiative for a defensive shield of 50 states may therefore be politically attractive despite the costs and uncertainties involved.
(Pierre 4) In fact, the United States has pursued the development of missile defenses for more than 50 years. Since the Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in 1985, the United States has spent almost $78 billion on missile defense programs and studies. (Luger 2) On February 3, 2003, the Department of Defense (DOD) released the FY 2004 defense budget, which included $9. 1 billion for missile defense. Also, the FY 2005 missile defense budget would rise to $9. 7 billion.
(Luger 1) Over the next five years, the administration plans for spending nearly $60 billion more on these programs. That is roughly $12 billion per year. Unfortunately for the US tax-payers, this speculation is only scratching the surface of what could be expected to come from defense budgets over the next quarter century. A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate indicates that the Bush administration's "layered" missile defense system could cost as much as $238 billion by 2025.
That number may be too low, however, as the CBO says there is "substantial uncertainty" about the final cost because the administration has been evasive about what ultimately will be deployed. (PSR 2) Also, The Pentagon has changed the operational requirements for missile defense systems and tests. Instead of requiring tests and measurements that counter specific threats of the enemy, substitutions have been made entailing general, and overall vague specifications. In addition, the MDA (Missile Defense Agency) operates outside of the usual reporting requirements of the Pentagon, including the Pentagon's independent Office of Test and Evaluation, and cost projections.
Therefore, it will be far more difficult for Congress to monitor, exercise oversight, and control funding for missile defense programs in the future because of these changes. Representative Marty Meehan expressed his thoughts about testing requirements and Congressional oversight at a recent House Armed Services Committee hearing saying that "without a threat to work against and with no accountability in place, we " re freeing the MDA to embark on a Rube Goldberg, multimillion-dollar, gold-plated science fiction project." (PSR 1) This year, the Pentagon requested $7. 8 billion for missile defense programs, roughly the same amount as last year. If fully funded, roughly $6. 7 billion of that request will be allocated to the Missile Defense Agency.
With the change in organization from the BM DO to the MDA, it will be more difficult to determine where and how that money will be spent. (PSR 2) Furthermore, the effectiveness of this missile system in the foreign communities' eyes has been seen to be quite skeptical. Even as European leaders have sought to avoid a confrontation with the United States, their questions and anxieties have increased since the election of President Bush and the certitude that missile defense will be vigorously pursued. This reflects major divergences on a number of critical dimensions of the issue. (Pierre 4) For the Europeans to respond to the Bush administration's plan for missile defense, there must first, of course, be the presentation of a plan that can be subjected to full and careful analysis in terms of their own interests.
Therefore, any pronouncements stemming at this time from Europe are premature. Furthermore, the Europeans know well that the actual deployment of an American missile defense is still years away, probably a decade or more. Since missile defense in one form or another has been the subject of controversy in the United States for more than 35 years, there is no telling what the policy of a future administration will be. (Pierre 2) However, the uncertainties that may spring out of this issue in the coming years haven't hindered the current presidency from pushing the program forward. Conversely, the rush to deploy a missile defense system by the Bush administration is very likely to decrease US security because it will cause other countries, most notably Russia and China, to build up their arsenals. The Bush administration's notification of its intent to unilaterally withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty undermines international arms control efforts and sets a dangerous precedent for future treaties and arms control agreements.
(PSR 2) This leads to how effective the withdraw will be for countries developing Nuclear weapons. U. S. intelligence estimates that there are about 350 Chinese missiles able to be deployed within about a 7 1/2 minute flight time of Taiwan. Recently, China has offered to reduce the numbers of deployed missiles if Taiwan scales back its arms purchases from the United States. China has also exported missile technologies to Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.
(Luger 8) Inversely, Iran's continuing development of its missile program will rely heavily on Russian, Chinese, and North Korean assistance. (Luger 8) Also, North Korea has continued to export ballistic missiles and associated technology, most notably to Pakistan and Yemen. (Luger 9) With the amount of hostility that such countries in the international community convey towards the US, the possibility of one dealing arms with a terrorist organization such as Al-Qaeda is most imminent. As a possible securing of measures, the US's foreign policy should be to cooperate and develop a clean communication with allied nations in order to help solve this potentially dire state of affairs. However, President Bush has done the complete opposite by isolating our country from any international consensus. This policy has only developed hostility on both sides of the fence leaving the US to caterwaul the largest broad-way show catastrophe in history.
Finally, it has been argued that ballistic missiles shouldn't be the focus of a large-scale defense system. On January 11, 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate released a new report on threats to the United States and said non-missile attacks by terrorists, such as a nuclear, chemical, or biological attacks using ships, trucks, or airplanes, are more likely than foreign countries using ballistic missiles. These means of delivery are less expensive, more reliable, and can deliver larger payloads more accurately than long-range missiles. Senator Mary Landrieu stated, "It is unlikely that a weapon will be delivered by a missile but much more likely that a weapon will be delivered by plane, a ship cruising into one of our hundreds of ports, a briefcase carried through any number of one hundred entry points to the United States or an aerosol can in one of the thousands of malls in the United States." (PSR 3) The terrorist attacks and the shrinking budget surplus have shifted priorities and opinions of many involved in this debate.
Alongside Senator Landrieu, many in Congress are now starting to argue that homeland defense and other defense priorities should be given more attention than missile defense. Representative Ike Skelton, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, stated recently, "At a time for such pressing needs - for shipbuilding, for force structure, and for continued transformation - I think we may be devoting too much money for missile defense." (PRS 1) Senator Tim Hutchinson, spoke of more pressing threats saying, "I have supported the administration in their desire for a national missile defense system... and yet the American people remain defenseless to a large extent against a biological attack that is arguably greater than a missile attack." (PSR 1) This unproven system will not make the US more secure if it is deployed at some point in the future, it will squander opportunities to spend on effective security programs, and it will be seen as an antagonistic, unilateral action at a time when coalitions and cooperation are more important than ever before. It is important for Congress to seize their duty to monitor and control the spending of the US government, particularly with regard to Missile Defense. (PSR 4) The recent economic recession and the Bush tax cut have shrunk the budget surplus to the point where budget priorities and pressures will cause deficit spending in the near future. CBO director Dan Crippen testified to Congress on March 5, 2002 that over the next decade, Bush's budget would tap $1.
8 trillion from Social Security surpluses to pay for other federal programs. (PSR 4) Now more than ever, we need to spend money wisely and efficiently on programs that effectively enhance security. In conclusion, it is clear that the world is changing. Threats can come in all shapes and sizes. The only true question for the American Government is which one they perceive to be the most prevalent in preventing. How many more enemies must be discovered? To what end are our policies as a nation helping the world community? The potential decisions that are being made for our country's well being can hurt or help our worldly friends.
Is it our right as the most powerful nation in the world to stand alone with our ears plugged to the rest of humankind? If we stand alone, we may die alone. Works Cited Herbst, Roland. Should We Construct An ABM System? 22 Apr. 1969. U. C.
Radiation Lab. 11 Oct. 2004. Missile Defense: Growing Concerns and Costs.
May 2002. Physicians for Social Responsibility. 15 Oct. 2004. Missile Defense: The Current Debate. Comp.
Richard G. Lugar. 21 Aug. 2003. CRS Report for Congress. 15 Oct.
2004. Pierre, Andrew J. Europe and Missile Defense. May 2001. Georgetown University. 15 Oct.
2004. York, Herbert F. Race to Oblivion. 1970. 11 Oct. 2004..