The Debate Of The National Missile Defense System

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This article is written to discuss the supporters and opponent's view of a National Missile Defense System (NMD). To date, the debate surrounding National Missile Defense System has been dominated by political rhetoric. Supporters (usually conservatives) often paint a "doom-and-gloom" picture, pointing out that the United States is vulnerable to an attack by ballistic missiles. Critics (usually liberals) defend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) as the cornerstone of deterrence and stability and argue that any defensive deployment would upset the balance between the offensive strategic forces of the United States and competing countries.

A clearly defined policy regarding the use of nuclear weaponry was first articulated in the 1960's by the Kennedy Administration in response to Soviet development of intercontinental missile technology. The Soviet Union lagged far behind in quantity and quality of nuclear missiles, but the new threat of immediate attack revised military strategy. Once used by the United States to save American lives in war, the U.S

use of nuclear weapons lost their wartime utility because of the potential of nuclear retaliation. A Nuclear weapons policy turned from ethical considerations to a serious military strategy designed to prevent their use. Nuclear military policy came to be based on the fundamental premise of deterrence: a theory that an adversary's offensive behavior can be prevented by persuasive threats of inflicting unacceptable harm (Lefever and Hunt, 1982:71).

Developments affecting the land and ocean-base continental ballistic missiles have been the focal point of recent NMD controversy. The United States has seen several competing countries achieve numerical equivalence within the context of military might. In the past, United States technology has appeared to outpace most countries improvements in the most critical area"”accuracy. Unexpectedly, many countries have made tremendous advances in missile accuracy, rivaling American standards of accuracy but with much larger warheads (Finan,