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Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics


Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics

"Even deployment of highly capable missile defenses does not displace deterrence as the basis of U. S. national security policy, if for no other reason than the opponents can still deliver weapons of mass destruction to American territory, using unconventional methods such as terrorism."

In ROCKETS' RED GLARE: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics, James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen have compiled a balanced collection of essays from leading defense and technology experts to address the United States' decision to develop missile defense technology.

This decision, made official by President Clinton's signing of the 1999 National Missile Defense Act, has placed America's participation in the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty of 1972 in jeopardy, as the ABM Treaty prohibits implementation of any system designed to defend against an enemy's missile attack.  

ROCKETS' RED GLARE contributors worked with three possible premises in relation to the ABM Treaty. (1) What if the U. S. could negotiate minor changes, major changes or abandon altogether the prohibitive treaty? (2) How would any of these change the global geopolitical landscape? (3) What technologies would be involved in each scenario, and what new alliances or enmities would ensue?

The quality of evidence to support the pros and cons of missile defense is compelling, given that a range of experts, from senior scientists in fields relating to missile and defense technology to prominent policy advisors in international and foreign affairs contribute to the book. Their efforts to broaden views of national missile defense (NMD) are clear and concise to the lay reader.

Richard J. Harknett, whose essay contributes to the opening excerpt, is the only author who mentions the awful alternative available to a country with limited military capabilities. "Instead," he posits, "states with small missile arsenals would try to avoid a direct confrontation with American military capabilities. This would increase the search for alternative delivery strategies --- for instance, terrorism."

As you read this, remember Harknett's premise is that low-tech attacks against a high-tech defense would become the standard for striking the United States when the actual implementation of NMD occurs under the National Missile Defense Act.

Reviewed by Chuck Tyler on September 14, 2001

Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics
edited by James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen

  • Publication Date: September 14, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN-10: 0813364507
  • ISBN-13: 9780813364506