Missile Defense: The View From the Other Side of the Atlantic

Camille Grand

Just as in the United States, a wide variety of views have been expressed in Europe concerning the proposed U.S. national missile defense (NMD). They have ranged from robust support among conservatives like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to vigorous opposition from peace-oriented groups and political parties. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that the vast majority of the comments made by Western European political leaders, defense and arms control experts, and journalists have demonstrated some level of concern about Washington's missile defense plans.1

Although European opinion has not yet had an impact on the U.S. debate, NMD could prove a divisive issue in the Atlantic alliance. Such a crisis would certainly not be welcomed at a time when transatlantic solidarity is needed to face the many security challenges of the new century—challenges that extend beyond missile proliferation. Europe is even more important in the short term because the United States needs the agreement of the United Kingdom and Denmark to build or upgrade key NMD facilities. In addition, Moscow could use even limited European support on the NMD issue to complicate ABM Treaty negotiations with the United States.

Most Europeans are also genuinely concerned that the country that invented arms control and non-proliferation is showing a mounting distrust, if not outright contempt, for bilateral and multilateral regimes and treaties. Coming after the U.S. Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the determined pursuit of national missile defense is another signal of a growing U.S. preference for unilateral responses to global issues. At a time when major arms control negotiations are facing a stalemate (the Biological Weapons Convention protocol and the fissile material cutoff treaty to name two examples about which Europeans care very much), this trend worries many U.S. friends and allies.

Moreover, a U.S. shift away from arms control provides an easy justification for those who are reluctant to join—or to comply with—non-proliferation and disarmament norms. In terms of a U.S.-European cooperative fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, a U.S. shift could lead either to a counterproductive division of labor or to a conceptual decoupling, whereby the United States pursues military and defense options while Europe insists on diplomatic and arms control tools.

Given that the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction is considered a major strategic challenge on both sides of the Atlantic, the United States needs to take a closer look at European views on whether missile defense is necessary and, if so, how it should be pursued. While, as with all national security issues, the decision to build a limited NMD system will be primarily a domestic one, the fact that the debate on missile defense has been confined to the domestic U.S. arena may mean that major issues remain unaddressed.

There are lessons to be learned from foreign attitudes on NMD, and failure to take them into account could have significant consequences. For the proponents of NMD in the United States, European perspectives could help them design an architecture that would be less destabilizing and thus more acceptable. For opponents, it is just as important to understand that the international criticisms of NMD often focus on different issues than the U.S. debate does. Most importantly, to miss the insights of the United States' major partners on such a key issue seriously risks straining the transatlantic alliance. That is a risk that is certainly not worth taking.


Keys to the European Debate

To begin, it must be made clear that the European debate on missile defense is only now emerging. Whereas in the United States missile defenses have been a major issue for years (if not decades) not only within strategic circles but also in the domestic political sphere, ballistic missile defense (BMD) has not been much of a public issue in Western Europe. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) faced vigorous critics, such as French President François Mitterrand, but it never came close to generating the sort of public debate the deployment of the "euromissiles" had triggered just a few years earlier.2 As a French analyst recently summarized, "European politicians tend to know as little about U.S. NMD as most U.S. politicians do about the new defense policy of the European Union (EU). Until NMD becomes a reality, Europeans not specialized in defense matters are not going to focus on it."3

To the extent that it is an issue, reactions have come primarily from the largest countries (Britain, France, and Germany) and from those with a tradition of promoting disarmament (Ireland and Sweden). The Europeans have not reacted as a whole, with one exception. Portugal, speaking on behalf of 31 European countries (the EU's 15 members plus 16 associated nations), expressed support for the ABM Treaty during the 2000 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in a statement that read, "We reaffirm the importance of the ABM Treaty, as one of the pillars of strategic stability. The [European Union] wishes to see that treaty preserved." Among the variety of European approaches to the issue of NMD, preservation of the ABM Treaty appears to be the lowest common denominator.

An important point to remember when charting the European debate is that the lack of public interest does not make BMD a priority for politicians and military planners. Of course, there are studies underway within NATO to work jointly on projects related to theater missile defense (TMD), and the leading European arms industries are involved in research and development projects on antimissile technologies. But in a time of severe budgetary constraints, there are many other priorities, and BMD programs are still seen as expensive with a debatable cost-effectiveness. Although the difference between a European extended TMD and a limited NMD is dubious because of Europe's geography, the interest in a European NMD architecture is currently almost nonexistent. Even if it could become an issue one day, Europeans have other priorities—such as meeting the "headline goals" for force projection defined in the European Defense Policy. They are not ready to spend billions of euros on missile defenses.

The primary reasons for the disparity between U.S. and European attention to missile defense are a difference in how the threat posed by states like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea is perceived and a difference in strategic culture.

The Western European states do take the dangers of missile proliferation very seriously. Most of them are members of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and all of them control missile technology exports. Since the Persian Gulf War, European military planners have also increasingly taken into account the effect that missile proliferation has on regions of crisis. European threat assessments are therefore broadly similar to the well-known U.S. threat assessment: missile proliferation is increasing and, combined with WMD proliferation, presents a major strategic challenge.

Furthermore, the trend is making existing regimes, like the MTCR, less efficient since technology transfers are increasingly taking place among proliferators themselves.

However, the details of the European assessments sometimes differ. First, there is the method of assessment. European nations usually consider intentions when evaluating a threat. For instance, the French define a threat as the combination of a technical capability and of a hostile purpose. Thus, whereas the U.S. approach to threat assessment is primarily "capabilities-based," the Europeans take a broader approach that includes more factors. Second, European analysts require a state's technical capability to be proven and fully tested, which can mean that their threat time frame may differ from Washington's. Although one should not expect a proliferating country to follow the path of testing that nuclear-weapon states use to field a weapons system, a single test does not create an immediate threat, especially if hostile intent is not obvious. Finally, the European assessment tends to focus more on the warhead (WMD or not) rather than on the means of delivery—there are many ways besides a ballistic missile to deliver a weapon of mass destruction.

Accordingly, European threat assessments and responses could be defined along the following lines: the threat from new missile owners is growing and could threaten large parts of European territory in the coming years. The southeastern part of Europe is already within range of some Middle Eastern ballistic systems, and intermediate-range (versus intercontinental) systems could soon pose a threat to most of the continent. Nevertheless, this threat should not be overemphasized when other dangers, such as terrorism and regional crises on the borders of Europe, are immediate and acute.

In addition to the difference in threat assessments, there is a major transatlantic difference in strategic cultures and public perceptions. Over the centuries, Europeans have learned to live with a certain degree of inescapable vulnerability. Having survived 40 years under the threat of an overwhelming Soviet conventional and nuclear threat that could have obliterated most of Western Europe in a matter of minutes, the growing but limited missile capabilities of a few so-called states of concern do not raise intense public anxiety. The fact that, in real terms, the missile threat to U.S. territory has also vastly decreased after the Cold War has not led to the same attitude in the United States.4

History is the first obvious key to this difference. All European nations have lived with direct threats to their territories from their neighbors. Belgium, Poland, France, Italy, and Germany have been invaded several times in the past 200 years. Even the isolated British Isles suffered direct and severe bombing during World War II. During the Cold War, the direct Soviet threat was for many Europeans similar to what they had experienced from other prominent powers (Spain, France, or Germany) in the past. By contrast, the United States has not suffered foreign invasion of its territory since 1812. It has had peaceful relations with its two only neighbors for almost a century (by contrast, Germany has nine neighboring countries; France has six). It has enjoyed unchallenged leadership in the entire Western Hemisphere and an almost complete absence of threat to its territory for most of its history.

One could write a history of related U.S. strategic fears, starting with debates on long-range strategic bombing before World War II, continuing with the "missile gap" with the Soviets, moving to the Chinese nuclear threat, and finishing today with missile proliferation and WMD terrorism. Since 1945, none of these technology-related fears has reached the same levels in Europe. During the Cold War, the United States never viewed the fact that Soviet missiles could threaten its soil as acceptable, and now that the Cold War is over, it feels it should be able to close that window of imposed vulnerability. The strategic environment should "go back to normal" (i.e., without any potential threats to the U.S. homeland), when for European countries, it is the current security environment, which lacks immediate threats, that seems somehow abnormal.

But despite Europe's lower threat assessment, as was the case with SDI, debate over the wisdom of missile defenses has begun to emerge in Europe in response to U.S. national missile defense plans. But NMD has not yet generated even the modest level of debate that SDI did. The reasons probably lie in NMD's less ambitious goals and the fact that it is presented more as a limited technological answer to a threat than as a grand strategic vision. There is also a spreading assumption that given U.S. domestic political pressure, the amount of money already spent, the technological progress made, and the limited nature of the proposed system, U.S. deployment of some form of NMD in the next few years or decades is inevitable.

This assumption does not lead European leaders to adopt a passive posture or abandon all criticism. It does, however, slightly change the focus of their approach: rather than entering a debate on the technical and doctrinal aspects of NMD (as they did for SDI), they press the diplomatic and strategic dimensions of the project to make sure their concerns for the alliance, arms control, and strategic stability are taken into account. If those concerns are neglected, many European political figures are ready to forcefully voice their opposition.

Parliamentary interest in Europe is already growing as evinced by two recent reports—one by the French Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Armed Forces Committee and the other by the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.5 Although they both provide a fair assessment of the NMD debate, both of these remarkable pieces of parliamentary work also express doubts about the political consequences of NMD. Surprisingly (given the United Kingdom's close ties with the United States), the British report is more critical than the French.

The European press is also commenting on the U.S. debate—usually in a negative way. After the successful October 2 intercept test, the French newspaper Libération ran the headline, "The U.S. Re-Launches the Antimissile Race. The Unbalance of Terror." In Belgium, the press described NMD as "Star Wars in a Bad Way." The German press expressed concern about European security: "Europe will turn into a target for every dictator, for every major power that wants to hit the Pentagon but instead aims at its partners." Fearing "cracks in the alliance," the Dutch media warned that NMD is "an enterprise that awakens distrust among the European partners with regards to the U.S.' strategic objectives." Only rare op-eds have suggested that Europe is lagging being the United States and should work on its own ballistic missile defense.6

The effect that NMD could have on Europe's security relationship with Russia is another consideration that is having a major impact on policy. Having spent billions of deutsche marks to stabilize Russia, Germany is at the forefront of this debate. Despite Moscow's loosening of links with the West in the last two years, Europeans value a cooperative security relationship with Russia. Although no European country is willing to trade transatlantic links for an illusory Russian-European axis, European governments fear that NMD will add another major item to the already long list of strategic disagreements with Russia, with potentially negative ramifications for European security.

Although the U.S. and European threat assessments are broadly similar, the keys to Europe's perception of missile proliferation and missile defenses can be found in the fact that vulnerability is more acceptable in Europe and in the low priority that the issue holds in the eyes of decision makers and the public. There is a rising debate about these issues that could swing toward favoring defenses if there were new missile tests near Europe and an acutely increased threat. But the Europeans have so far expressed more concern about the downsides of NMD than interest in its potential security benefits versus missile proliferation.


Three Transatlantic Issues

In 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright summarized her concerns about the emerging European Defense Policy by putting forward the famous "three D's": no decoupling, no discrimination, and no duplication. Today, the Europeans could list their own concerns about NMD with another set of "D's": decoupling, disarmament, and deterrence. Does NMD lead to transatlantic decoupling? Does NMD stand for "no more disarmament"?7 Does NMD mean "no more deterrence"? None of the answers to these questions are obvious, but each of the European states has, in one way or another, expressed concern relating to these three issues.


    The Risk of Decoupling

    Strategic decoupling of the two sides of the Atlantic has been a major concern for NATO strategic planners. By deploying U.S. troops and nuclear weapons in Europe and by adapting U.S. nuclear strategy to meet the requirements of extended deterrence, the alliance has always carefully tried to maintain a strong coupling, or link, between the security of Europe and that of the United States. For 40 years, U.S. vulnerability to the Soviet nuclear threat was viewed with apprehension as potentially dividing U.S. and European security the traditional "would you trade Chicago for Hamburg" argument, so it would be difficult to say now that U.S. invulnerability would have the same effect. But it is clear—especially if the Europeans do not build a defense for themselves—that missile defense could have a profound impact on the alliance's interaction and the coordination of strategy.

    The United States and Europe have already begun something of a strategic and political separation. It is disturbing that after the 1999 airstrikes against Yugoslavia, the first open war in the alliance's history, U.S. strategic thinking began to focus on the unilateral protection offered by NMD, while the Europeans decided after the French-British summit in St. Malo and the EU summit in Helsinki to work toward an autonomous European Defense Policy aimed at enhancing European projection capabilities. The pursuit of separate parochial priorities within the alliance could open a strategic rift.

    This raises a set of questions that need to be addressed in a transatlantic framework.

    First, will a more or less protected United States be more or less likely to intervene overseas to preserve international security, for instance near Europe? On the one hand, it is certainly true that NMD could help protect the United States from blackmail aimed at deterring a U.S. intervention. On the other hand, one could also argue that NMD makes U.S. involvement in a regional crisis less likely and necessary since U.S. security would be less intertwined with that of Europe. NMD could thus foster isolationist tendencies already feared by the Europeans.

    Second, how does a scenario in which the U.S. territory is under a BMD umbrella and Europe is not affect the ability of Western countries to act in concert? During the Cold War, the United States had to accept a certain degree of vulnerability in order to convince both the Soviets and the Europeans that a limited war in Europe was not an option; at the same time, the United States had to be less vulnerable than Europe in order to provide a credible extended deterrent. Today, the situation could be changed. If Europe is vulnerable and the United States is not, the two partners are likely to have different objectives and concerns in a crisis.

    Third, what are the side effects of NMD deployment on European security? Many potential Russian responses, such as redeploying tactical nuclear weapons or even withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, would primarily affect Western Europe. In this twisted scenario, better protection of U.S. territory would indirectly lead to an enhanced threat on European borders, thus creating the need for a strengthened U.S. commitment to European security through NATO.

    Finally, and more broadly, what would be the political consequences for the alliance if the U.S. government were to take a unilateral decision to deploy a missile defense when most of its European allies have expressed hostility to the idea? There have been major strategic debates in NATO's history, some of which had U.S. origin (flexible response), others of which met European demands (the deployment of the "euromissiles"). Many decisions were taken after heated debates, but there is an old tradition of consensus-building within the alliance. The Europeans therefore expect at least a serious debate within the alliance before Washington takes the serious step of deploying a national missile defense.

    There is no clear answer to these four questions, but they certainly deserve a much deeper transatlantic consultation. As a European analyst has written, "It is in the U.S. interest to be open to the sensitivities of its best friends, rather than to launch into uncertain and unproven experiments."8


    "No More Disarmament"?

    Leading European leaders have made numerous statements demonstrating a genuine concern that, if mishandled, NMD could or would jeopardize 30 years of arms control efforts. French President Jacques Chirac recently stated that NMD is "of a nature to retrigger a proliferation of weapons, notably nuclear missiles."9 German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder expressed a similar view when he said, "Neither economically, nor politically, can we afford a new round of the arms race."10 Schroeder meant not only that the Europeans have other spending priorities, but also that the European public is not ready to focus on such an issue.

    Viewed from Europe, the worst-case arms control scenario is that NMD deployment would be followed by Russia's withdrawal from major arms treaties and verification regimes (the INF Treaty, the tactical nuclear regime of 1991, START), as well as its development of greater offensive and defensive capabilities. China would also block further arms control efforts and increase the expansion of its nuclear forces. Additionally, Russia and China would loosen their already weak export controls and deliberately accelerate missile and WMD technology proliferation.

    States of concern would engage in a missile buildup to try to challenge the emerging NMD and local TMD programs. This would lead to a renewed interest and potential arms race among the major powers in more modern offensive capabilities and counter-options, including space-based weapons.

    Of course, the worst case scenario is unlikely. Some problems—such as China's strategic modernization and opposition to arms control and Russia's temptation to insist on its tactical nuclear capabilities—are already on the table. It would also be unfair to blame the current deadlock on arms control negotiations on NMD only.

    But from the perspective of European countries deeply committed to strategic reductions and non-proliferation, the underlying point is that NMD could damage the ABM Treaty, thereby threatening the entire framework of arms control. In the European view, the ABM Treaty is, rightly or wrongly, an essential element of international security and should therefore be handled with care. This explains Europe's clear preference for a negotiated amendment process that would ease the anxiety of Russia and others, and it explains Europe's desire to combine BMD-related efforts with a renewed interest in arms control and non-proliferation regimes.

    If NMD were to trigger an arms race between Russia, the United States, and possibly China, it would also certainly make further French and British unilateral reductions less likely and affect the ability of the two European nuclear-weapon states to become more deeply engaged in international nuclear arms control measures and treaties. As British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned in a July 24 statement to the House of Commons, U.S. concerns should be met "in a way that does not put at risk the substantial progress that has been made on nuclear disarmament over the past few years."

    Most Europeans do not oppose amending the ABM Treaty in principle (it has been amended before), but they are wary of the effects that a unilateral move by the United States could have. As French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine said in a July 6 speech, "I think this project takes the risk of provoking hostile and dangerous reactions by some countries in the world." However, he drew a distinction between two scenarios: "If the United States does go ahead in spite of a Russian refusal, challenging the policy of negotiated arms control, then France, and the other European Union countries will have to have a strong response. The reaction will be different if the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, agrees [to amend the treaty]."

    The recent report by the British House of Commons committee also urged "the Government to impress upon the US administration that it cannot necessarily assume unqualified UK cooperation with US plans to deploy NMD in the event of unilateral US abrogation of the ABM Treaty." Coming from the parliament of the closest U.S. ally in Europe and a country that hosts two key facilities for the NMD architecture (Fylingdales and Menwith Hill), this position is worth noting.11 Greenland's prime minister has warned that Greenland would refuse to upgrade the Thule radar facility "if it resulted in increased tension and world destabilization."12 The final decision belongs to Denmark, but Copenhagen has said that local views would be taken into account.

    In other words, Europe would probably not oppose amendments to the ABM Treaty as long as the inner logic of the treaty (limitations on defenses) and the treaty itself are preserved, and as long as amendments take place in an U.S.-Russian negotiated process. In order that the future of arms control may be preserved, Europeans do not want to see multilateral approaches to security abandoned in favor of unilateral defenses.


    "No More Deterrence"?

    Even though a shift in the role of deterrence is primarily a concern for the two nuclear-weapon states in Western Europe, there is widespread concern about the impact of replacing deterrence with defense. European analysts take the U.S. point that current missile defense plans are intended to complement, not replace, deterrence, but they have concerns about the long-term consequences of missile defense for the strategic stability that nuclear deterrence has provided for the past 50 years.

    French and British experts are confident that their national deterrent forces will not be threatened in any way in the foreseeable future. But in the long term, both countries need to factor in the possible disappearance of the ABM Treaty, which has been a structuring factor for French and British force levels for almost 30 years. In the long term, they need to take into account that a possible U.S.-Russian agreement might lead to improved Russian early-warning and defense capabilities that could in turn warrant improvement of their minimal deterrent. Therefore, if the United States deploys a national missile defense, it cannot be assumed that the European nuclear-weapon states will continue on their path of major unilateral nuclear cuts.

    Eventually, such developments would undermine the logic of deterrence with destabilizing consequences for international security. The ABM Treaty was specifically designed to preserve the logic of mutual and reciprocal deterrence, with the limitation imposed on ABM defenses aimed primarily at keeping both sides vulnerable. As was the case with SDI, national missile defense could effect a shift in thinking by putting the emphasis on defenses versus offenses.13 In the French and British view, accepting vulnerability remains an integral part of deterrence because it contributes to the credibility of the deterrent and because European analysts have traditionally doubted that missile defenses could ever be truly effective.14 The United States, on the other hand, has always wanted to develop options and responses other than retaliation, since being left with nuclear retaliation as the only choice can create dilemmas.

    NMD could also generate a false sense of security and create the illusion that deterrence is less necessary.15 It might be unwise to assure the public that it is protected from the dangers of WMD proliferation—and even less wise for a state to behave as if this were true—when a missile defense could be easily overcome simply by a larger number of missiles or by other means of delivery, like bombers, cruise missiles, or terrorist-delivered bombs.

    Europe as a whole also has to consider the effects of NMD on extended deterrence, which are not yet clear. On the one hand, the United States faces a credibility problem: Can it use the threat of a nuclear strike to protect its allies from limited WMD threats while primarily relying on missile defenses for itself when faced with a similar scenario? On the other hand, a less vulnerable or invulnerable national territory does strengthen U.S. credibility because the United States can act abroad with reduced fear of reprisal.


None of the answers to the above problems are easy, but there are certainly pros and cons that should be further evaluated jointly.16 European politicians are not very keen to engage in a Europe-wide debate on nuclear deterrence versus BMD (at a time when the European security debate should focus on other issues, the BMD issue could prove divisive), but at the very least, there must be a discussion among experts.



The majority of European governments feel it is not their responsibility to lecture the United States on its security choices. The EU is therefore unlikely to take a major diplomatic counter-initiative, as is sometimes hoped by NMD opponents. However, concerning the possible deployment of a U.S. missile defense, the Europeans are becoming clearer about what they do not want to see happen and what could be more acceptable, as well as the fact that they expect to be consulted before further steps are taken.

The Europeans want to preserve the ABM Treaty as a cornerstone of the international arms control regime. Although they are wary of being used by Russia in its struggle with the United States, Europeans are increasingly emphasizing a cooperative approach to the future of the ABM Treaty and resisting the idea of a U.S. unilateral withdrawal. Since the Russian position will remain unclear until the next U.S. administration is in place and has put forward a clear proposal, the next U.S. president is expected to demonstrate a genuine effort to secure a deal with Moscow.

The Europeans have not suggested a single alternative to BMD deployments as a response to missile proliferation, but they would certainly feel more at ease with an NMD that fits into a broader non-proliferation and arms control agenda. They are also ready to join the United States in diplomatic moves than could limit the spread of missiles in regions of concern (such as the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East), and they are hopeful that domestic political evolutions in those regions and diplomatic efforts could reduce the need for NMD.

Despite Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush's proposal to include U.S. allies under a missile defense and the Clinton administration's late attempt to involve Europeans in the NMD project, it is unlikely that European countries will show any enthusiasm for such participation at this stage. It therefore makes little sense at this point to try to turn NMD into a NATO project. However, Europeans would be more ready to take part in broader projects, such as joint early-warning efforts or renewed and enhanced missile non-proliferation regimes.

Some U.S. analysts seem to expect that after some minor public disagreement the Europeans will accept NMD, but that is a risky assumption to make. First, NMD requires the unqualified support of the European countries that will host NMD-related facilities (the United Kingdom, Denmark, and possibly Norway). These countries cannot be expected to easily acquiesce if none of their concerns are met. Second, having expressed genuine concerns about the future of arms control, many European countries would resent a bold U.S. unilateral move on the ABM Treaty, and such resentment could have long-term political consequences for the transatlantic link. Third, an unconcerted NMD decision would support the position of those that favor the fast development of an independent European foreign and defense policy. This is not necessarily bad from a European perspective, but it is probably not seen with the same enthusiasm in Washington.

For the last 50 years, the Atlantic alliance has been built on the principle that defense choices for one pillar benefit both. Historically, major strategic choices always attempted to follow that principle. If an NMD decision were to be taken on a purely unilateral basis, it could damage the alliance. Though most Europeans may acknowledge the decision to deploy an NMD as primarily a domestic one, they expect their closest ally to attach importance to their concerns because of the possible international implications. Europe is already playing a useful role by warning its best ally on the potential consequences of NMD deployment, by expressing support for the ABM Treaty, and by attaching importance to the security relationship with Russia.

Europeans expect a deeper transatlantic discussion of this issue and hope that the next U.S. administration (whether Democrat or Republican) will factor in their concerns when taking the NMD deployment decision. The current transatlantic debate emerged only after the decision to go ahead was taken in 1999.17 It might be wiser to exchange views before the next step rather than after.



1. For the purposes of this paper, "Europe" refers to Western Europe (i.e., primarily NATO and EU countries).

2. Euromissiles included the Pershing II and long-range cruise missiles deployed in Europe in the early 1980s, dismantled after the 1987 INF Treaty.

3. François Heisbourg, "Brussel's Burden," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000, p. 127-133.

4. On this point see Joseph Cirincione, "Assessing the Assessment: The 1999 National Intelligence Estimate of the Ballistic Missile Threat," The Nonproliferation Review, Spring 2000, p. 125-137.

5. Xavier de Villepin, "La défense antimissiles du territoire (NMD) aux Etats-Unis," Rapport d'information, n°417, June 14, 2000. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, "Weapons of Mass Destruction," HC 407 of 1999-2000, July 25, 2000.

6. The citations in this paragraph are taken, respectively, from Libération, November 24, 1999; Le Soir, January 20, 2000; Münchener Merkur, February 2, 2000; and NRC Handelsblatt, February 11, 2000.

7. The author borrows this summary of the potential effects of NMD on arms control from George Bunn, "Does NMD Stand for 'No More Disarmament' as well as 'National Missile Defense'?" Disarmament Diplomacy, December 1999.

8. Guillaume Parmentier, "Europeans Need Friendly Persuasion to Feel Secure," Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2000, p. 11.

9. Marc Lacey, "Putin Bends Clinton's Ear Hoping to Halt Missile Shield," The New York Times, July 22, 2000, p. A6.

10. Berliner Zeitung, June 2, 2000.

11. The British minister of defense has, however, said that "the history of our close friendship with the U.S. is that we are sympathetic to such requests," and the Foreign Affairs Committee says that a refusal to upgrade Fylingdales would be "unprecedented."

12. "U.S. delegation to brief Greenland on anti-missile scheme," Agence France Presse, August 21, 2000.

13. On deterrence and the offense-defense debate, see the classic paper: Robert Jervis, "Cooperation under the Security Dilemma," World Politics, January 1978, p. 167-214.

14. It is even possible to trace back the first European criticisms on BMD to the late 1960s. For an early doctrinal criticism of ABM defenses, see Lucien Poirier and Alain Bru, "Dissuasion et défense anti-missile," Revue de Défense Nationale, November and December 1968.

15. Lawrence Freedman, "NMD and Deterrence," in Burkard Schmitt (ed.), National Missile Defence and the Future of Nuclear Policy, Occasional Paper No. 18, Western European Union-Institute for Security Studies, August 2000. (These are the proceedings of one of the only truly transatlantic seminars on NMD [Paris, June 9, 2000], soon available at www.weu.int/institute/publ_uk.htm ).

16. A fair assessment of the debate on deterrence and NMD can be found in Thérèse Delpech, "National Missile Defense and Nuclear Policy," in Schmitt, National Missile Defence and the Future of Nuclear Policy.

17. Transatlantic exchanges on NMD did not really begin until the December 1999 NATO summit. See Wade Boese, "NATO Ministers Skeptical of U.S. NMD Plans," Arms Control Today, December 1999, p. 21.


Camille Grand is an arms control analyst and a lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and at the Ecole Spéciale Militaire in St. Cyr-Coëtquidan. The views expressed here are his own.