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Missile defence is essential and there is no necessary choice between it and other security needs


from doing what President Bush just did. Republicans blocked efforts by President Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin to reduce each side to 2,000-2,500 warheads. The United States and Russia agreed, they just couldn’t get Congress to go along.

face of an obviously emerging mis- sile threat, would be as negligent as not pursuing those non-proliferation and counter-terror measures you rightly endorse.

Your description of the Crawford Summit is curious. In a fully congen- ial atmosphere, old animosities obvi- ously were demolished. While pre- serving all START limits and verification measures in effect, President Bush announced unprece- dented reductions in US nuclear forces, and Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit. This breakthrough could take place only by transcending archaic Cold War- style negotiations. Some bemoaned the passing of the Cold War approach, but it had become an obstacle to more amicable political relations and corresponding nuclear reductions. In addition, at Crawford and before, President Bush clearly sought a cooperative resolution of the ABM Treaty question, and President Putin exhibited consider- able flexibility. This cooperative res- olution appears to be in the making to the chagrin of some missile- defence critics. Crawford reflected a new day in US relations with Russia, and that is for the good.

Yours, Keith

Dear Keith,

It wasn’t the “archaic” arms-con- trol process that blocked nuclear reductions; it was the Republican Congress. Republicans passed legis- lation prohibiting President Clinton

President Bush essentially embraced the 1997 Clinton-Yeltsin goal, minus the verification that a treaty provides. His figure of 1,700- 2,200 is lower only because he will no longer count warheads on submarines and bombers in overhaul as “deployed”. With one to two subs in overhaul at any time, each with 192 warheads, this magically lowers the numbers without changing the force. There is less to this “breakthrough” than meets the eye.

Just like missile defence.You insist on trying to wrap this programme in some grand consensus, some over- whelming public desire. But neither exists. Let us move beyond this decades-old debate. Here is where you and I and the rest of the Alliance can agree. Let us pursue an aggres- sive test programme for missile defence, that will go beyond simplis- tic demonstration shots to true com- bat conditions against multiple tar- gets with realistic decoys and realistic re-entry speeds. If such defences work, we can work out cooperative deployment plans that increase US security, not decrease it by starting new conflicts.

All we need are slight modifica- tions to the ABM treaty. The Russians are prepared to agree to permit a new Alaska test range and the testing of radars aboard Aegis ships — the two areas where current tests “bump” the treaty. As Secretary of State Colin Powell just told The New York Times magazine: “We can’t do this on the basis of personal relations. It has to be on the basis of our national interest over time.’’ Which means, Powell said, “You codify it somehow.”

30 NATO review

With the ABM-treaty dispute behind us, missile defence becomes just another programme competing for funds and surviving on its own merits. We will preserve the interna- tional coalition and the national unity of purpose we now enjoy. It will allow us to work together on reduc- ing the threats we both agree are the most urgent international priority.

Yours, Joseph

Synopsis: Both debaters agreed that the events of 11 September had highlighted the vulnerability of the United States and its allies to a wide range of security threats demanding urgent attention and increased expen- diture. They also welcomed the Congress’s approval of $40 billion emergency appropriations in September and the bipartisan approach to addressing the current crisis. They disagreed, however, over whether the $7.9 billion earmarked for missile defence for 2002 was the best use of these resources. For Keith B. Payne, it was critical to invest today to plug a massive security gap, namely the ICBM threat, which had been identified by 1998 Rumsfeld Commission. Moreover, there was no conflict between spending on missile defence and on other priority areas. For Joseph Cirincione, the cost, tech- nical feasibility, threat and strategic consequences of missile defence were such that it was a lower priority than areas such as bioterrorism defence, airport security, cooperative threat reduction programmes and deterrence, which had to be addressed immediately.

Missile defence is a bit player in a larger drama


Winter 2001/2002

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