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The New Missile-Defense Policy Won’t Maker Us Safer

January 18, 2019 in Economics

By Eric Gomez

Eric Gomez

The Trump administration’s long-awaited Missile Defense Review sets the
stage for a broad expansion of U.S. missile defense capabilities
that would make the country less safe. Perhaps this seems
paradoxical; shouldn’t better defenses increase our security?
Yet the proposed new systems would not exist in a vacuum, but would
interact with existing and emerging technologies and nuclear
strategies to produce a more dangerous world.

The MDR is a very ambitious document. It starts with calls for
more midcourse interceptors and other existing defensive systems,
then urges the development of new capabilities to defeat more kinds
of adversary missiles across more stages of flight. Examples of these new systems include:
laser-armed drones that could disrupt missiles before they leave
the atmosphere, space-based sensors to improve early detection of
missile launches, and F-35s equipped to hunt mobile missiles before
they can be fired.

Instead, it will
encourage rogue states to nuke first in a conflict, and will
increase the risk of escalation in a great-power war.

Supporters of a bigger and better U.S. missile defense
capability argue that it improves deterrence by reducing
adversaries’ confidence in their ability to launch successful
attacks against the United States, its military forces, and allies.
This argument has some merit, but it overlooks the negative effect
missile defense has on nuclear stability when other factors are
considered.

Let us take a closer look at the MDR’s likely effects on
two types of deterrence relationships: with “rogue
states” such as North Korea and Iran, whose existing or
potential nuclear arsenals will remain relatively small; and with
China and Russia, who possess much larger arsenals.

Far from deterring rogue states, the MDR’s prescriptions would
encourage them to use nuclear weapons at the start of a military
conflict. Although North Korea has demonstrated that it can likely
hit U.S. territory with a nuclear-armed ICBM, its forces are still
very small and vulnerable to both U.S. offensive capabilities and
missile defenses
. If war broke out between the United States
and North Korea, the U.S. military would most likely try to destroy
the North’s nuclear forces and its leadership very quickly. The
longer Kim Jong Un waits to use his nuclear weapons, the more
likely it is that he won’t have any weapons left. This is not just
speculation: when U.S.-North Korea tensions ran high in 2017, the
North repeatedly said it would use nuclear weaponsif
it felt that it was about to come under attack. Stoking first
strike incentives doesn’t buttress deterrence, it undermines it and
puts the United States at greater risk.

Nor will the MDR help deter potential adversaries …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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