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ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

Mission Impossible

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

President George W. Bush’s abbreviated “grand tour” of Europe predictably failed to gain new support for U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty to facilitate deployment of a national missile defense (NMD). Given the abject failure of Bush’s senior aides’ earlier frantic efforts to obtain blank-check endorsements in all major capitals for the U.S. NMD initiative, one wonders whether his advisers had become so imbued with the righteousness of their cause that they really believed the president could succeed in this mission impossible. His hosts certainly did not learn anything new about the substance of the U.S. position. Bush, however, must have learned something about the nature and intensity of foreign concerns over his administration’s plans in this area.

In a transparent effort to minimize negative reactions to the NMD issue, the trip conspicuously avoided Britain, France, and Germany in favor of Spain, Sweden, and Poland, and a visit to NATO headquarters in Belgium where NATO heads-of-state could be expected to be more constrained in any criticism than on their home turf. In the end, however, NATO did not give formal support for the U.S. NMD proposal.

Bush’s informal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin was certainly the high point of the trip. Billed as simply a “getting to know you” social event without an agenda, the meeting proved surprisingly substantive and appeared to produce an unexpected degree of respect and cordiality between the two leaders despite major differences on a range of issues. In fact, Bush’s assessment of Putin—“I looked the man in the eye [and] I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy”—was so effusive that conservative commentators and Republican senators cringed in disbelief. Putin, while somewhat more reserved, spoke approvingly of Bush and the constructive nature of their exchange. Whether spontaneous or carefully planned, these reactions gave a very positive spin to two hours of frank discussion of their differing views on a wide-range of current policy issues, which Putin described in some detail to a selected group of U.S. journalists two days later in Moscow.

On the central issue of the ABM Treaty and NMD, Putin challenged the basic rationale of the U.S. position that North Korea and Iran pose a direct threat to U.S. security. He presented in some detail his conviction about the relatively primitive state of the two countries’ technology and proposed a U.S.-Russian cooperative effort to insure that rogue states would not become threats in the future. He pressed unsuccessfully for details on the planned U.S. NMD deployment and the aspects of the ABM Treaty that inhibited U.S. research and development, clearly suggesting the possibility of minor amendments.

Putin acknowledged that the United States has the right to withdraw from the treaty if it wishes to have complete independence of action. He warned, however, that this would give Russia the right to withdraw from START I and II so that it could also be independent of treaty constraints, allowing it to maintain its deterrent more economically. He emphasized that withdrawal would end mutual verification of future arms reductions and would increase the potential for rapid rearmament in the future. He stated that the collapse of the U.S.-Russian arms control relationship would adversely impact the nuclear non-proliferation regime by making it much easier for threshold states to claim nuclear status—a development contrary to the security interests of both the United States and Russia.

If Bush was listening—and Putin gave him credit for being a very careful listener—the trip will indeed prove to have been of extraordinary importance. Bush may now better understand why the rest of the world is deeply concerned about U.S. NMD plans.

Before allowing his administration to be further burdened with trying to persuade the world to accept a treaty-busting NMD, Bush should first revisit the value of such a system compared with its real costs to U.S. security. Can one really justify withdrawing from the ABM Treaty on the grounds that it might facilitate development and testing of undefined systems against uncertain future North Korean and Iranian threats at a probable cost of losing the START accords? Since START I and II substantially reduce and stabilize Russian strategic forces, which are the only threat that could destroy the United States, Bush should instead take his new friend up on the offer of a joint cooperative effort to eliminate incipient threats before they emerge.
This policy reorientation, which would receive almost unanimous international acclaim, would be far more likely to succeed than the achievement of a highly effective NMD and would do so at a fraction of the cost. And it would free the Bush administration of the increasing burden of a mission impossible of gaining international acceptance of U.S. pursuit of the will-o’-the-wisp of national missile defense.

Posted: July 1, 2001

Bush Meets Opposition to Missile Defense While in Europe

Although President George W. Bush expressed satisfaction during a mid-June visit to Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other European leaders had showed “receptivity” to his intention to develop a new strategic framework, including missile defenses, Putin and key NATO leaders reiterated their concerns with U.S. plans and warned the United States against pushing ahead alone. (Continue)

Wade Boese

Although President George W. Bush expressed satisfaction during a mid-June visit to Europe that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other European leaders had showed “receptivity” to his intention to develop a new strategic framework, including missile defenses, Putin and key NATO leaders reiterated their concerns with U.S. plans and warned the United States against pushing ahead alone.

On his first visit to Europe since winning the presidency, Bush traveled to five nations in five days, beginning with Spain on June 12 and capping the tour with his first meeting with Putin June 16 in Slovenia. In between these stops, Bush attended a NATO heads-of-state meeting and a summit with the 15-nation European Union.

At each stop, the president delivered the same message, urging his counterparts to “think differently” about preserving their security in the post-Cold War era, when Russia is no longer a NATO enemy, and rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, are seeking long-range ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

The president further argued that this new world necessitates building ballistic missile defenses that would require Washington and Moscow to “set aside” the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibits nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. However, Bush presented no specifics on his missile defense plans or the other elements of his nascent strategic framework, such as unilateral strategic reductions. “We are open as to what form [the new strategic framework] takes,” national security adviser Condoleezza Rice explained to reporters June 15.

Speaking at a joint press conference after their meeting, Putin welcomed Bush’s premise that Russia and the United States were no longer enemies in a changing world with new threats, but he said that those threats needed to be “defined” before it could be decided how to tackle them. He later implied they could be addressed through means other than strategic defenses, such as diplomacy and nonstrategic or theater missile defenses. Putin, who had warned earlier in his remarks that “any unilateral actions can only make more complicated various problems and issues,” concluded by saying, “I think we can work out a common approach.”

In an extensive interview with selected U.S. journalists in Moscow two days later, Putin called for further consultations with the United States and appeared to open the door slightly on amending the ABM Treaty. Putin twice stated that Washington and Moscow should look at what specific provisions in the ABM Treaty prevent the United States from countering perceived threats. He noted that the treaty can be amended and that it does not rule out all defenses, originally allowing the two countries to deploy two regional defenses. A 1974 amendment to the treaty trimmed this allowance to one regional defense per country.
The Russian president further said that the two sides should discuss what the United States sees as the threat, what can be done about it, and what the Bush administration means when it says the U.S. defense will be “limited.”

If the United States acts independently and opts to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, Putin declared that Russia would pull out of START I and START II, which limit the number of U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads. If that happened, he explained that Moscow would be free to keep multiple warheads on its land-based ICBMs, an action proscribed by START II, and that Russia and the United States would lose the ability to monitor each other’s nuclear reductions. Top Russian officials have recently stated that more than 30 strategic accords are tied to the ABM Treaty.

Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld have both dismissed the specter of a new arms race with Moscow, asserting that Russia must cut its arsenal because it cannot afford to maintain its forces at current levels and that U.S. missile defenses will be limited, thus posing no threat to Russia’s deterrent and removing any reason for Moscow to build up or alter its strategic forces.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 20, Powell explained that Russia should not worry about a limited U.S. defense because the two countries will remain vulnerable to each other’s missiles. “You can’t entirely do away with what has been known as mutual assured destruction [MAD],” Powell said. Bush, however, has equated MAD with the ABM Treaty, calling them both bankrupt relics of the past that should be left behind.

Putin was not alone in expressing concerns about U.S. plans during Bush’s European tour. French President Jacques Chirac warned that missile defenses could prompt other countries to step up efforts to acquire ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in order to overwhelm a U.S. defense, while Dutch Prime Minister Willem Kok counseled that a unilateral U.S. abrogation of the ABM Treaty “would not be the right approach.” Emphasizing the need for continued U.S. consultations on its missile defense plans, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that there are a “host of issues that need to be clarified,” a message Berlin has voiced repeatedly in the past several months.

After his June 13 meeting with the NATO allies, Bush acknowledged that “there’s some nervousness” about U.S. plans. But Bush also said that he thought he had made progress in convincing other leaders to accept his approach, claiming that their worries are “beginning to be allayed when they hear the logic behind the rationale.”

Rice seconded the president in a post-trip June 17 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” asserting, “We’re bringing people along with us.” U.S. officials have named Spain, Turkey, Britain, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as places where they say the Bush initiative received a positive reception.

Some of those countries, however, have cautioned that U.S. actions should not divide the alliance and that Washington needs to proceed cooperatively, not unilaterally. And some, particularly Britain, have said only that they understand why the United States is looking at missile defenses and that they are reserving judgment until they know program specifics. In the NBC interview, Rice said winning allied support would be needed to permit the United States “the full range of options in missile defense.”

Bush disputed accusations that the United States is acting alone, saying June 13, “Unilateralists don’t come around the table to listen to others.” Nevertheless, Bush officials have repeatedly declared that Washington will move forward with missile defenses.

The president vowed the United States would continue its foreign consultations, which have been universally welcomed, and he specifically charged Powell and Rumsfeld with carrying out “regular, detailed” discussions with their Russian counterparts. Putin noted that expert working groups would also be established to discuss specifics, such as identifying the threats. By the close of June, these proposals had not been given any shape yet, according to administration officials.

Posted: July 1, 2001

Bush Pushes New Strategic Framework, Missile Defenses

In a May 1 speech at National Defense University, President George W. Bush said that the United States “must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty” and replace it with a “new framework.” Bush offered few details about what such a strategic framework would look like, but he reaffirmed his intention to deploy ballistic missile defenses and further reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal. (Continue)

Wade Boese

In a May 1 speech at National Defense University, President George W. Bush said that the United States “must move beyond the constraints of the 30-year-old ABM Treaty” and replace it with a “new framework.” Bush offered few details about what such a strategic framework would look like, but he reaffirmed his intention to deploy ballistic missile defenses and further reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Arguing that, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world today is “vastly different” than when the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was signed in 1972, Bush said U.S. security needs to be “based on more than the grim premise that we can destroy those who seek to destroy us.” Negotiated by President Richard Nixon with the Soviet Union, the ABM Treaty proscribed nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles and barred the development, testing, and deployment of sea-, air-, space- and mobile land-based ABM systems or components. Without nationwide defenses, both countries had confidence that the other would not risk a nuclear attack, knowing that it would be vulnerable to a retaliatory strike.

In addition to barring the United States from “exploring all [missile defense] options,” Bush charged in his speech that the ABM Treaty “perpetuates a relationship [with Russia] based on distrust and mutual vulnerability” and therefore must be replaced. The president did not detail what should replace the treaty, except to say that the resulting relationship with Russia should be “reassuring, rather than threatening.”

The alternative to the ABM Treaty “might be a framework, might be another treaty,” Secretary of State Colin Powell ventured in a May 14 interview with CNN. “We’re not sure what it is yet. We are not foreclosing any option,” he said.

Bush did not repeat his campaign statement that the United States would withdraw from the ABM Treaty if Russia refused to negotiate amendments to permit a U.S. strategic ballistic missile defense. Nevertheless, he and other administration officials have made it clear that they do not think the accord is useful to U.S. security.

Prior to Bush’s speech, a top State Department official told the Danish parliament on April 25, “We believe the ABM Treaty will have to be replaced, eliminated, or changed in a fundamental way.” When asked on May 11 whether the United States may in the end continue the treaty, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher answered, “I don’t think we have raised that possibility.” He later added, “We have come to the conclusion that this treaty is outdated and not important or relevant to the current strategic situation.”

A key characteristic of the current strategic situation, according to the administration, is that, unlike the Soviet Union, so-called rogue states seeking weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles, such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran, may not be deterred from attacking the United States by the prospect of U.S. nuclear retaliation.

Without missile defenses, the president argued, the United States and others could be susceptible to nuclear blackmail by rogue states. Citing Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the president said the international community would have “faced a very different situation” if Baghdad had possessed a nuclear weapon, implying that U.S. efforts to form a coalition to evict Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait would have been a much more difficult task or would have failed because of the significantly higher stakes of intervening.

To guard against these new post-Cold War threats, as well as to protect against accidental launches of strategic ballistic missiles, Bush said his administration, “working with Congress,” would deploy missile defenses. The president noted he had already charged Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with exploring “all available technologies and basing modes” for effective missile defenses in order to protect the United States, its deployed forces, and U.S. friends and allies.

Bush briefly mentioned the prospect of land-, air-, and sea-based defenses and that the administration saw “substantial advantages” to intercepting missiles in the boost phase during the first few minutes of flight, when the rockets are still burning, the missile is moving relatively slowly, and no countermeasures have been deployed. But he admitted that there is still “more work to do to determine the final form the defenses might take.”

Bush did not mention space-based defenses, but Rumsfeld said the following day that, in addition to land-, air-, and sea-based defenses, space-based options “are all things that need to be considered.” Rumsfeld subsequently stated on May 8 that the Pentagon office overseeing missile defenses had identified “eight, 10, or 12 different things…that they think merit attention.”

Though the administration has not yet determined the specifics of its future missile defenses, it has been clear about what the system will not be. Appearing May 6 on NBC, Rumsfeld described as “unfortunate” that some people used the term “shield” in talking about missile defenses, claiming the word suggested greater capabilities than the administration envisions. Instead, Rumsfeld explained the proposed Bush defenses would only protect against “relatively small numbers of ballistic missiles.”

Speaking the day of Bush’s speech, Rumsfeld cautioned that early defenses would “certainly unlikely” be 100 percent perfect. In fact, the secretary noted, “Most systems are imperfect; that is to say for every offense, there’s a defense, and vice versa.”

Despite having declared the ABM Treaty irrelevant and having announced that the United States will deploy missile defenses, in his speech Bush assured other countries, including Russia, that he would not present the world with “unilateral decisions already made,” but consult with other capitals and seek their input on the “new strategic environment.” Prior to his speech, Bush talked by phone with the leaders of Germany, France, Canada, Britain, and Russia, as well as NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. The following week, senior administration officials departed on visits to nearly 20 countries to hold consultations on Bush’s vision of a new strategic framework. (See Missile Defense Consultations Abroad Yield Little Progress.)

Cutting the Arsenal

Although Bush’s May 1 speech focused on describing how the world has changed since 1972 and the need for missile defenses, Bush also said that his new strategic framework would include further cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, as well as non-proliferation and counter-proliferation activities.

“My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces,” Bush declared. These reductions are expected to be implemented unilaterally rather than through negotiations with Russia, though Bush would first need Congress to repeal legislation proscribing the president from unilaterally reducing U.S. strategic forces.
As with missile defense, Bush offered only a vague goal, saying that the United States will seek a “credible deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs.” An administration spokesperson interviewed May 17 said it is still “too early to talk about numbers.” The Pentagon is currently reviewing how many and what types of nuclear weapons will make up the future U.S. arsenal.

Russia and the United States agreed in March 1997 to begin START III negotiations to limit each of their arsenals to 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic warheads once START II, which imposes a ceiling of 3,500 deployed strategic warheads, enters into force. But those negotiations have not gotten underway because START II has yet to enter into force. During his campaign, Bush said it should be possible to go “significantly further” than the START II cap, but he did not indicate whether he would go as low as the proposed START III levels or Russia’s stated preference for cuts to 1,500 deployed strategic warheads.

Posted: June 1, 2001

Missile Defense Consultations Abroad Yield Little Progress

Wade Boese

Senior Bush administration officials dispatched around the globe in early May to consult with foreign capitals about the U.S. intent to deploy missile defenses were asked many questions but were able to provide few answers because Washington still has not formulated specific plans. Foreign leaders welcomed the talks, but most withheld support for the nascent Bush vision of a new strategic framework, preferring to wait until they hear more details.

In a May 1 speech, President George W. Bush explained why he believes the United States needs to deploy missile defenses and “leave behind the constraints” of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. (See previous page.) But Bush also pledged to consult with other countries, saying that he did not want to present them with “unilateral decisions already made” and that Moscow and Washington should “work together to replace [the ABM Treaty] with a new framework.”

Less than a week later, the first of three high-level delegations, soon followed by the other two, traveled abroad for the promised consultations. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly traveled to Asia, while two teams, one headed by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman and the other by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, visited Europe. Over a nine-day span, the delegations visited 19 countries, including Russia and China, and briefed NATO.

At each of their stops, the delegations emphasized two themes: that Washington intended to hold true consultations in which other countries could express their views and that the world has dramatically changed since 1972, when Moscow and Washington signed the ABM Treaty. U.S. officials explained that Russia is no longer an enemy and that new threats arising from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction demand new responses, such as missile defenses. In this new world, the United States wants to “think in a new way about deterrence,” Grossman said during his May 9 stop in the Netherlands.

The delegations, however, said missile defenses were only one element of Bush’s new strategic framework, which will also include non-proliferation, counter-proliferation, and unilateral nuclear reductions. When pressed on specific details of these elements, particularly missile defenses, all the U.S. delegations demurred, saying it was too early for such discussions.

After briefing NATO on May 8, Grossman said, “The decisions about how, and when, and how much, are still decisions to come and, as we said today, decisions that have not been made in the United States.” Similarly, Wolfowitz in Warsaw on May 10 explained, “What we are talking about at the moment is still a concept.”

Although Bush made clear in his speech that he sees little utility in the ABM Treaty, the visiting U.S. delegations said its fate had yet to be decided. “There has been no decision about how to deal with the ABM Treaty,” Wolfowitz declared May 9 in Paris. Speaking May 11 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Grossman said, “It’s very, very important that you understand that there has been no decision to leave the ABM Treaty,” though he reiterated that, to create Bush’s new framework, “we may need to move beyond the constraints of the ABM Treaty.”

At their stops, U.S. officials declined to discuss the reactions and positions of their hosts, but on May 15, Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley described the responses as “mixed,” admitting there was “skepticism from some of the capitals.” Quigley also said, however, that there was “some positive reaction” from certain countries, specifically identifying Poland and Australia.

India, a country that has long criticized U.S. strategic policy, described Bush’s speech as “highly significant and far-reaching.” New Delhi’s warm reception comes at a time when there are growing signs that the Bush administration may lift U.S. sanctions imposed on India for its May 1998 nuclear tests. When asked in India on May 11 about this possibility, Armitage replied, “The question of sanctions is one for the United States to resolve…but I think it is quite clear the direction we are heading.”

After the Armitage visit, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement welcoming U.S. plans for nuclear reductions and de-alerting, as well as the proposed “new Strategic Framework, based upon consultation and cooperation rather than confrontation.” But the statement also emphasized “the need to not unilaterally abrogate” the ABM Treaty.

Preserving the ABM Treaty and arms control in general also ranked high on European concerns. Danish Foreign Minister Mogens Lykketoft, appearing with Grossman on May 9, stated, “A unilateral cancellation of the [ABM] Treaty would not be a good signal.” With regard to missile defense, he said, “Of course, what is of concern to us in Denmark, and I think to very many Europeans, is that this should not create a new arms race.” French, German, Ukrainian, and Italian officials all publicly expressed similar sentiments.

In Turkey, Grossman said the United States hoped that there would be “as wide participation as possible in the development” of missile defenses, though he admitted that Washington is “far from asking any allies to do anything specific.” The United Kingdom, Denmark, and Canada—all countries that are expected to be asked to play some role in future U.S. missile defenses—have maintained that they will not take a stance on participation until the Bush administration has a specific request for them. Lykketoft noted that Denmark is “not ready to take any decision on a project that has not been described in any detail yet.”

Some in Europe even questioned the U.S. threat assessment. A French Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson on May 11 stated, “I don’t think [missile defense] is based on the need to face an immediate threat.” After his briefing to NATO, Grossman remarked, “While by no means everybody agrees on every single piece of the threat, I think there was a general recognition that the world has changed.”


 

Russia and China

 

Despite a May 11 stop in Moscow by Wolfowitz and Hadley as well as a May 18 visit by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to Washington, Moscow still questions that there are new threats. Igor Sergeyev, former Russian defense minister and now presidential adviser, reportedly described the U.S. justification for missile defenses as “laughable” after the U.S. delegation visit. Taking a more diplomatic tone, Ivanov said Russia understands “that times are changing and that new challenges and threats may arise.”

During his Washington visit, Ivanov proposed that the two sides form two working groups, one to study threats and another to look at how to “solve these problems.” The United States is considering the proposal.

After meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ivanov reiterated Moscow’s strong support for the ABM Treaty, saying, “We cherish this treaty.” Speaking earlier on a May 4 visit to India, he warned, “It is inadmissible to take reckless steps which can destroy the work of the existing mechanisms ensuring international stability and security with no guarantees that the new schemes will be more effective.”

Though taking a tough line on the ABM Treaty, Russian officials repeatedly remarked how pleased they are that talks on strategic stability with the Bush administration have started. Russian President Vladimir Putin will get a personal opportunity to continue the dialogue and narrow differences when he meets Bush on June 16 in Slovenia for their first face-to-face meeting.

China also expressed a desire to continue consultations with Washington on missile defenses after a May 15 visit by Kelly, though Beijing spoke even more bluntly against U.S. plans than Moscow. Beijing, which fears that even a limited U.S. defense could negate its small arsenal of roughly 20 ICBMs, said its opposition will not change and that Washington risks triggering a new arms race. The day of Kelly’s visit, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned that the U.S. plan to deploy missile defenses “harms others without benefiting the United States itself.”

Kelly attempted to reassure China, declaring that a U.S. missile defense “would not be a threat to China.” Nevertheless, the U.S. intelligence community assessed last fall that China would likely respond to U.S. defenses by building up its strategic forces.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, however, dismissed such concerns during a May 6 interview on NBC, saying that U.S. missile defense plans will not “affect one whit what [China] does.” He continued, “They’re going to develop additional weapons. They’ve said that, they’ve been writing that, they are doing that.”

In addition to its opposition to strategic missile defenses, China voiced objection to theater missile defenses (TMD). In fact, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that to a certain degree China would oppose TMD even more than U.S. national missile defenses if TMD were used to strengthen military alliances or were destabilizing to Asia—a not-so-veiled warning against the United States supplying TMD to Taiwan.

U.S. spokesmen denied that the results of the recent talks disappointed the administration. White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said May 16, “There was never an expectation that people would go abroad and come back and have the allies say, ‘Sign us up.’” Likewise, on May 14 State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “We are not going out to collect a bunch of pelts on missile defense.” Both said consultations will continue, and Boucher emphasized, “We intend to proceed with [missile] defense.”

Posted: June 1, 2001

Coup de Grace

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

The Democrats’recapture of the Senate may well have administered the coup de grace to President George W. Bush’s plan to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as the first step toward a robust national missile defense (NMD) in a world without arms control. Even before Senator James Jeffords’ courageous act of conscience, international opposition to Bush’s strategic vision was almost unanimous despite frantic administration efforts to win allied and world support, or at least acquiescence. Suddenly, instead of having a Senate controlled by extreme right-wing Republicans exhorting him to ignore foreign objections, Bush will have a Senate dominated by Democrats who share many of the same concerns.

In his May 1 speech at National Defense University, Bush reaffirmed his campaign rhetoric to reject the arms control regime built up over the past 30 years and to replace it with a system of military laissez-faire in which complete freedom of action would presumably result in the most security for the United States. In place of arms control agreements, the Bush doctrine would call for unspecified unilateral reductions in strategic offensive weapons. Unlike treaties, such unilateral actions could be arbitrarily changed at any time and, lacking verification measures, would not add to predictability or stability.

Alarmed at the continuing failure to line up foreign support, Bush followed up his speech with the dispatch of teams of senior officials to “consult” all interested parties but with the understanding that the United States would replace the ABM Treaty regardless of their views. Not surprisingly, all reports indicate that these mock “consultations” were generally counterproductive. NATO could not even be persuaded to give a nod in support of the U.S. position.

Top Russian officials expressed the common complaint that the emissaries and high-level officials in Washington were unable to provide any additional information on such critical issues as the threat justifying this precipitous action, the “replacement” for the ABM Treaty, or the unilateral actions that would replace the START process. In short, Bush essentially asked the rest of the world to give the United States a blank check to do whatever it wishes.

On the home front, in addition to growing skepticism from the media and Democratic members of Congress, Bush’s vision encountered opposition from two unanticipated sources: technical reality and the military. Bush’s inner circle was apparently surprised to discover that there is nothing remotely close to deployment and that the layered defense they proposed could not be operational for a decade or more. Even the closest candidate, the Clinton administration’s unproven midcourse intercept system, which the Republicans had roundly criticized, is years away from deployment. Moreover, the military, which does not appear to be deeply involved in the Bush administration’s planning, is not enthusiastic about being saddled with an open-ended, high-tech NMD that could well prove to be a “black hole” for defense funds that the Pentagon would prefer to spend on conventional force modernization.

In this environment, the switch in control of the Senate could be decisive in protecting the ABM Treaty and the arms control regime. With Senator Thomas Daschle as majority leader, Senator Joseph Biden as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Carl Levin as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, all of whom spoke out strongly in opposition to Bush’s May 1 speech, there will be a profound and continuing debate on the questions the administration’s emissaries could not answer, and public attention will be focused on the consequences of Bush’s vision. No longer will Senator Jesse Helms be able to stifle debate in the Foreign Relations Committee or Senator Trent Lott be able to manipulate the Senate agenda, as he did in orchestrating the rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

True, Bush can still constitutionally withdraw from the ABM Treaty on his own authority. But to take this unprecedented action in the face of majority Senate opposition and almost unanimous disapproval in world opinion would be a truly irrational action for the leader of the world’s last superpower.

With the switch in the Senate leadership having effectively administered the coup de grace to any plans to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, Bush now has the opportunity and the obligation to reassess his plans. Rather than risk the success of his presidency on withdrawal from the ABM Treaty for no purpose, because there is nothing to deploy, he should refocus the NMD effort on the research and development, most of which is permitted under the treaty, necessary for such a system. Concurrently, he should intensify diplomatic efforts to eliminate the perceived missile threat at the source. To regain U.S. leadership, rather than dismantle the arms control regime, he would be well advised to consider bringing START II into force, which should be possible in the new Senate, and to initiating the long-delayed START III negotiations.

Posted: June 1, 2001

Congress Responds to Bush Missile Plans Along Party Lines

Wade Boese

Congressional Republicans applauded President George W. Bush’s May 1 declaration that the United States would deploy missile defenses, but top Democrats warned Bush against rashly abrogating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which proscribes nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles. With control of the Senate reverting to the Democrats because of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords’ decision to leave the Republican Party, it appears likely that Bush will face new challenges in his pursuit of an ambitious missile shield.

Appearing at a May 2 press conference with Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Joe Biden (D-DE), then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) proclaimed that the president’s speech “begins one of the most important and consequential debates that Americans will see in our lifetime.”

At the press conference, Biden suggested that, if the United States unilaterally withdrew from the ABM Treaty and deployed missile defenses, Russia could halt its nuclear reductions and China would increase its number of ICBMs from the 20 or so it has today to “closer to 800.” He further projected that a Chinese missile buildup would prompt India and then Pakistan to expand their nuclear forces, creating a more dangerous Asia that could in turn put pressure on Japan “to go nuclear.”

Biden, who will be the next chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also expressed doubt concerning the premise that rogue states would not be deterred from attacking the United States. Levin, who is expected to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the urgency and priority of the threat, noting that both the U.S. intelligence and defense communities rank the possibility of a missile attack against the United States as the “least likely threat to us.”

In a separate floor statement the same day, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) argued that, if Russia and China remained unconvinced by Bush administration assurances that U.S. missile defenses are not directed at them, a defense could make the United States less safe because Moscow and Beijing could respond by “developing, and eventually selling, new ways to overwhelm our defenses.”

On the House side, Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) said Bush’s approach “may have the effect of undermining our nation’s security rather than enhancing it.” Gephardt stated that Bush is “jeopardizing an arms control framework that has served this nation and the world well for decades” by pushing his plans to deploy “as yet unproven, costly, and expansive national missile defense systems.”

Another Missouri Democrat, Ike Skelton, who started his May 1 statement by noting that he does not oppose missile defense, counseled against pursuing missile defenses at the expense of other military spending and diplomatic approaches. “Every missile not built is one we do not have to defend against,” Skelton stated.

Largely echoing the president, Republican senators and representatives all spoke of the growing threat from countries that have or will soon have long-range ballistic missiles to deliver weapons of mass destruction against the United States. Citing a 1998 commission headed by now-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that reported the United States might have “little or no warning” before a hostile state deployed such a missile, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), then chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, stated May 2 that “there is no time to lose” in deploying missile defenses.

Although currently only Russia and China possess ICBMs capable of striking the United States, a September 1999 National Intelligence Estimate concluded that within the next 15 years the United States will also most likely face an ICBM threat from North Korea, probably from Iran, and possibly from Iraq.

Republicans also embraced Bush’s judgment of the ABM Treaty as a Cold War relic. Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Fred Thompson (R-TN) described the treaty as “outdated,” while House Armed Services Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) said that U.S. security strategy “must move beyond the now-obsolete framework that was once the cornerstone of our national security.” Long a critic of the accord, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) declared, “It is time to scrap the ABM Treaty.”

Posted: June 1, 2001

Europe and Missile Defense:Tactical Considerations, Fundamental Concerns

Andrew J. Pierre

In the few months since President George W. Bush's inauguration, administration officials and U.S. press reports have given the impression that European leaders have abandoned their oft-stated reservations about and objections to the U.S. development of missile defenses. The Europeans, it is claimed by administration spokesmen, are for the first time coming to understand the validity of the global missile threat and the fact that it affects Europe's soil as much, if not more, than America's. Moreover, it is suggested, President Bush's strong and clear commitment to missile defense—in contrast to President Bill Clinton's wishy-washy approach—has served as a "wake-up call" to Europe's leaders. According to the administration, not only have the Europeans become persuaded of the inevitability of an American deployment, but having now focused more seriously upon its benefits, they have also dropped most of their objections.

Some support for this claim of a turn-around in European thought can be found in the guarded statements some European leaders made during their first visits to President Bush. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the close of a two-day meeting at Camp David in late February, said he would "welcome a dialogue" on missile defense, and the accompanying joint U.S.-British communiqué noted the need to deter "new threats with a strategy that encompasses both offensive and defensive systems." When German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited the White House at the end of March, he chose to focus most of his discussion with the president on the Middle East, while indicating that he was reassured by Bush's promise of full consultations on missile defense. French President Jacques Chirac, an early and vocal skeptic of missile defense who consistently drew attention to the risk that abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty would spur an arms race, has toned down his rhetoric in recent months.

At the same time, in his meeting with Bush, Blair was careful to avoid a direct endorsement of missile defense. During a brief press conference in the Oval Office with Bush, Schroeder indicated that he still had a number of concerns regarding missile defense: What is the nature of the ballistic missile threat? Is a defense technologically feasible? Which nations would be covered by the shield? And although the French may have moderated their public opposition, Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine has stressed the American commitment to consult fully with the allies before moving ahead with missile defense.

The key question now is, are the European nations having an important change of heart, significantly reducing their past reservations about missile defense, or are they pulling their punches, having decided not to press their continued opposition at this time? The answer is complex and has a number of salient elements.

What European leaders have come to accept is that the new American president, being personally committed to missile defense and having placed it at the top of his defense policy platform during his election campaign, is now certain to proceed vigorously—for the Bush administration, the question is not "if" but "how and when." There is every expectation that the administration will propose the architecture of a missile defense plan before the end of the year, probably giving an early indication of its approach within the next months. In addition, many of the European allies have come to acknowledge that there is, in fact, a growing danger from missile proliferation and therefore from weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, given Europe's geographic proximity to a number of "rogue" states, its vulnerability cannot be denied, even though until now European governments have been averse to talking about it too openly because of their reluctance to undertake their own missile defense programs. Finally, all European officials understand that ultimately the decision of the United States cannot but be a sovereign and national one, even though they would hope that considerations involving the Atlantic alliance as a whole be fully taken into account.

But the European leaders' recent desire to avoid confrontation with the Bush administration over missile defense is based primarily on tactical considerations and not on a significant shift in the fundamental concerns that they have about a shield. What the Europeans are saying now should not be taken as their final word on the issue.

 

Tactical Considerations

For the Europeans to respond to the Bush administration's plan for missile defense, there must first, of course, be the presentation of a plan that can be subjected to full and careful analysis in terms of their own interests. Therefore, any pronouncements emanating at this time from Europe are premature. Furthermore, the Europeans know well that the actual deployment of an American missile defense is still years away, probably a decade or more. In other words, it would certainly follow a first Bush administration. Since missile defense in one form or another has been the subject of controversy in the United States for more than 35 years, there is no telling what the policy of a future administration will be. Nor is it possible to foretell future technological developments, which will determine possible missile defense architectures.

In addition to these longer-term considerations, the present reluctance of the Europeans to avoid a confrontation with the new Bush administration is rooted in a number of more immediate, tactical concerns. Prime Minister Blair is facing an election, recently postponed from May to June because of the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. He does not want missile defense to become an election issue, nor does he want to open his government to domestic criticism for allowing a deterioration of the Anglo-American "special relationship," which is somewhat of a myth today but one that is still widely accepted in Britain. Conservative opposition leader William Hague has lambasted the Blair government for failing to wholeheartedly endorse the Bush missile defense approach. While British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has pointed out that there is no perception of danger in the United Kingdom that would warrant a missile defense and has spoken of the need to respect the ABM Treaty and not increase tensions with Russia through the deployment of missile defense, the Tory "shadow" defense minister, Iain Duncan Smith, has strongly criticized the Blair government for "mindlessly" opposing the idea from the sidelines rather than supporting the United States fully. In Whitehall, the Foreign Office is deeply skeptical of missile defense, but the Ministry of Defense wants to do what is necessary to avoid a row with the Americans.

Domestic political considerations have also played a role in Germany. Volker Ruehe, former Conservative Democratic Union (CDU) minister of defense, and Friedbert Pflueger, chair of the CDU National Committee for Foreign and Security Policies, have criticized the government for not understanding America's need for missile defense and have called for a supportive European policy. However, the dominant view among political elites, including Karl Lamers, foreign policy leader of the CDU Parliamentary Group, is still one of widespread skepticism. Schroeder clearly wishes to avoid opening a debate on nuclear weapons, given the searing and destructive nature of past German nuclear controversies over such issues as intermediate-range nuclear forces, which led to the collapse of Helmut Schmidt's coalition government in 1982 and 16 years out of power for the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Such a debate, close to the 2002 national election, could tear apart both the SPD-Green coalition and the SPD itself. Accordingly, Schroeder has tempered his past criticisms and recently spoken of the need for a NATO-wide approach to missile defense, noting that Germany has an economic interest in not being excluded from European participation in such an endeavor.

With neither London nor Berlin ready to go to battle with Washington at this time, French leaders are momentarily lying low, observing that they are waiting for the explication of the American plan and the promised intensive consultations.

Beyond domestic political considerations, there are a number of other issues at stake in the transatlantic relationship that are of more immediate concern for the Europeans. During his meeting with Bush, Blair extracted a statement of support for a European rapid reaction force under the auspices of the European Union (EU), while muting his criticism of missile defense. Having been one of the two founders of this new military force, Blair was pleased that the many reservations of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and to a lesser extent Secretary of State Colin Powell, which were based on the fear of its duplicating NATO without adding new capabilities, had been overcome. As the Europeans seek to make progress toward a new European Security and Defense Identity, they must overcome the innate reservations that exist in Washington over a venture that many American officials fear would dilute the American influence in Europe. It is already clear that in the run-up to next year's Prague NATO summit, which will take up the further enlargement of NATO, there could well be strong differences between most European nations and the Bush administration over which countries to admit next into NATO and when. There is, for example, much less support in Europe for bringing one or more of the Baltic nations into NATO at this time than there appears to be within the Bush administration.

The U.S. troop level in Kosovo and Bosnia could also clearly become a major bone of contention, should the United States make unilateral withdrawals, as some Bush appointees proposed during the election campaign. And there are significant divergences between the majority of European governments and the Bush administration on other critical issues such as policy toward Russia, policy toward rogue states, the Kyoto convention, and trade matters. Given that the transatlantic highway will need to support an unusually large number of policy discussions and likely controversies over the next years, most of which have a far shorter time fuse than missile defense and are far more relevant to immediate European interests, there is currently little incentive for an early confrontation over missile defense.

The Europeans are clearly pulling their punches for a number of tactical reasons. But the fundamental divergences over missile defense have not disappeared. The Bush administration should take heed not to engage in the self-delusion that it has succeeded in persuading its allies to the cause of missile defense. Public debate in Europe on missile defense has not been widespread, and the issue is only now being given greater attention by the media and the political elite. Most of the discussion has taken place in the three states that have a community of commentators and experts on strategic affairs: Britain, France, and Germany. In these nations, the political elite and media are now giving missile defense more and more attention and, as noted previously, in two of these, there are the stirrings of partisan political debate over the issue.

The Europeans are interested in discussions with Washington aimed toward exploring the content of an allied missile defense, including the nature and level of direct European participation. They acknowledge the long-term dangers of missile proliferation. But there are a host of questions that remain to be answered and issues to be resolved. From the European perspective, the United States has yet to make a convincing, much less compelling, case for a missile defense that is technologically feasible and politically viable in the international context.

 

Fundamental Concerns

Even as European leaders have sought to avoid a confrontation with the United States, their questions and anxieties have increased since the election of President Bush and the certitude that missile defense will be vigorously pursued. This reflects major divergences on a number of critical dimensions of the issue.

Threat Assessments and Strategic Cultures

Most Europeans who examine the issue question the core of the American rationale for missile defense, which is based on the assessment that there is a serious danger from a small number of rogue states that are developing, or could in time acquire, ballistic missiles and that these states are not susceptible to the deterrence which has worked effectively for the past decades. North Korea, Iran, and Iraq are commonly cited, although Libya could be added. Europeans argue that North Korea's motivations for devoting scarce resources to ballistic missiles are explainable to a significant extent as an attempt to gain bargaining leverage in its search for economic assistance and international legitimacy. Missile defense is seen as a disproportionate response to a "famine-ridden Asian backwater with a yearly GDP representing one month's worth of WalMart sales," in the opinion of French strategist Francois Heisbourg.1 When President Bush recently put the missile talks with Pyongyang on hold, ostensibly because of verification concerns, the alarmed European Union immediately filled the breach by announcing that it would send a high-level delegation to the Korean Peninsula for talks to include the missile issue. The right approach toward Iran, it is argued, is to encourage the reformist forces led by President Mohammad Khatami that are now striving to democratize the nation, rather than to treat it as an international pariah. And the best way to limit the missile program in Iraq is to keep Saddam Hussein's regime constrained through sanctions focused on his military programs.

Publics in Europe have yet to follow the missile defense issue very closely, with less than half in Britain, France, Germany, and Italy even having heard of it as of 2000, although this could change as the transatlantic debate proceeds.2 There is hardly any public sense of a ballistic missile threat either from North Korea or from Middle Eastern rogues—even though, as measured by trajectory distances, a threat from Iran or Iraq is more immediately relevant to Europe than to the United States. Indeed, polls indicate that the French public sees the two overriding foreign threats as Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism. Sir Timothy Garden, former British assistant chief of air staff, notes, "In Europe we don't feel this sense of foreboding and threat which seems to underlie all discussions of NMD in the United States. We feel we are now safer than we can remember in anybody's lifetime. Having lived with the imminent possibility of ballistic missile attack for some 40 years, we now find it refreshing that we have to cast around on the off chance that we might find some small state somewhere that sometime might, for reasons that we can't understand, send missiles toward us."3

Governments, however, have begun listening more seriously to Washington's arguments. In late 1999, the United States briefed European governments about its estimate of the coming ballistic missile threat, and this form of consultation is certain to be renewed and deepened as the Bush plan for missile defense is unveiled. European defense ministries, in particular, acknowledge a theoretical threat, although their timeline for its possible appearance is longer than that of the American intelligence community. But there remains the critical question of whether the planned American response to the threat will not be disproportionate to the threat itself. And what if, Europeans ask, North Korea is persuaded to end its program in return for economic benefits, Iran becomes a democratic and benign nation, and Saddam Hussein's regime comes to an end?

Underlying the varying American and European perspectives are differing strategic cultures. The dominant American way of making threat assessments is to focus on actual or prospective military capabilities, while the Europeans are far more likely to value the estimate of political intentions. Americans look for the military means that a rogue state might use in a crisis or in a situation ripe for blackmail, while Europeans pay more attention to the overall political context. Thus, in fashioning a response, Americans are more prone to use hardware and technological solutions, such as missile defense, while Europeans are more attracted to intellectual software to guide them toward a political solution. A report by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the British House of Commons noted its concern that the "USA over-emphasizes the capability component of the threat equation, when it comes to assessing the extent of the threat it faces, and attaches too little importance to intention."4

Another difference in strategic culture is due to contrasting acceptances of vulnerability. Europeans have had centuries of armed conflicts with their neighbors and numerous invasions of their soil. Consequently, their historical experience has taught them to live with vulnerability and uncertainty. Magical solutions, such as the Maginot Line, have been discredited. Historical realism reigns paramount. In contrast, American soil has been inviolate with the exception of the War of 1812. Although the now-popular term "homeland defense" implicitly suggests that absolute security is achievable, many Americans do not fully recognize that the United States has been vulnerable to missile attack for decades. Technological optimism pervades society. A presidential initiative for a defensive shield of 50 states may therefore be politically attractive despite the costs and uncertainties involved.

Arms Control and the ABM Treaty

The Europeans fear that, should missile defense lead the United States to withdraw unilaterally from the ABM Treaty, the result would be a major breakdown in the structure of strategic arms control, which has been painstakingly built over almost four decades. Although not a party to the treaty themselves, the Europeans remain firmly of the view that it is the dominance of offensive weapons and the resulting deterrence that has kept the peace. They do not agree with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's characterization of the ABM Treaty as "ancient history." Rather, they see it as being the bedrock of the overall arms control regime for dealing with nuclear weapons, as much now as in past decades. President Bush's reported instruction to his principal aides to think beyond the constraints of the treaty in coming up with a missile defense plan and to design the system they think the United States needs regardless of the treaty's provisions is worrisome to those Europeans who are aware of it. And the movement of the United States away from supporting arms control agreements, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or the Ottawa treaty on landmines, is viewed as a troubling departure from multilateral cooperation for international security.

An American agreement with Russia to modify the treaty so as to permit a limited missile defense would alleviate many of Europe's concerns. The Europeans would welcome a parallel understanding that led to deep reductions in Russian and American offensive forces—preferably even below proposed START III levels—through either a negotiated agreement or mutually agreed upon unilateral steps similar to the Bush-Gorbachev reciprocal declarations of 1991 concerning tactical nuclear weapons. This could lead to a new mix of offensive and defensive strategic capabilities that still preserved deterrence. But such measures, in the Europeans' view, should be in place before the United States proceeds with missile defense. One concern is that, in a rush to begin building an X-band radar in Alaska this year or next (in order to have a system completed by 2005 or 2006, when intelligence estimates say North Korea might have an ICBM), the United States may violate the treaty or, worse still, that the Bush administration might withdraw from it.

Should the United States move ahead unilaterally with missile defense without an agreement with Russia on revising the ABM Treaty, the Europeans fear that Moscow could respond by withdrawing from START II and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This, some European experts believe, would reverse the trend of past decades and could lead to a renewal of the arms race. Europeans have also expressed concern about China, which has indicated that it would respond by greatly accelerating its strategic nuclear modernization program with the purpose of overcoming a limited American missile defense.

Ultimately, however, Europeans must focus primarily upon their continent and its security link to the United States. Many European strategists see the dangers of a strategic "decoupling" of the United States from Europe, should there ever come a time when the United States is "protected" from even a limited missile attack and Europe is left "naked." This could undermine the implicit nuclear guarantee and the broader security relationship that has been the keystone of the Atlantic alliance for the past half-century. Were circumstances to arise whereby, in a crisis with a power thought to have a missile capability, there was a need for joint action, the vulnerability of Europe compared to a secure United States might lead to conflicting interests and objectives, ultimately vitiating a collective response. With the United States protected, might not a vulnerable Europe be subject to blackmail by a rogue state? (Of course, the argument can be reversed: might the United States not be more likely to respond if it is safe behind its missile shield?) For such reasons, the Bush administration's rhetorical shift away from a national missile defense has been well received, as has the stated intention to work with the Europeans toward constructing an allied missile defense.

The French and British have special worries related to their own nuclear forces. Although the deployment of a limited Russian missile defense beyond the present Galosh interceptors in the Moscow region, might not significantly degrade their current capabilities, the abrogation of the ABM Treaty and any resulting additional Russian missile defenses could pose a new situation, leading Paris and London to conclude that they must seek an upgrade of their missile forces. An additional dilemma for the British arises out of a likely American request for an upgrade or replacement of the critical early-warning radar facilities at Fylingdales and the joint satellite communications links at Menwith Hill. The Blair government has sought to avoid a public debate on these upgrades because they could violate the ABM Treaty, and ultimately these radar facilities could become the targets of a state seeking to overwhelm a U.S. missile defense. It is acknowledged in London, however, that whatever reservations the British may harbor about missile defense, it would be extremely awkward for London not to cooperate given the historically close collaboration with the United States in both intelligence and nuclear matters.

Similarly, in Denmark there are concerns about upgrading the Thule radar facilities in Greenland. The prime minister of Greenland's Homerule government has spoken of the absolute necessity of maintaining the ABM Treaty if permission is to be given to upgrade the radar for missile defense.

Policy Toward Russia

With the arrival of the Bush administration, there has been a growing divergence between Europe and the United States on how to deal with Vladimir Putin's Russia. This divergence has already impacted the missile defense question and could affect the way issues related to the ABM Treaty are resolved. The initial inclination of the new team has been to downgrade the status of Russia as a world power in American foreign policy and to reverse the policy of engagement in the Russian economy and society that characterized the Clinton years. Money for cooperative nuclear threat reduction activities in Russia is being reduced, and there is talk of enlarging NATO to include some former Soviet states. Moscow's suggestion of an early summit meeting was rebuffed, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld criticized Russia as "an active proliferator" for providing dangerous technologies to rogue states such as Iran.

The European nations, on the other hand, have sought to build a more cooperative relationship with Moscow. They feel the need to engage Russia on issues ranging from the Balkans to trade to the ABM Treaty. For his part, President Putin has shifted Moscow's attention toward Europe and has sought to strengthen political and economic ties between Europe and Russia. He has engaged in a more active round of bilateral meetings with European leaders than did Boris Yeltsin and was invited to join a European summit meeting in Stockholm. Javier Solana, now secretary-general of the Council of the European Union and former secretary-general of NATO, recently observed that the European Union is rapidly shaping a profound strategic partnership with Russia. The Europeans have indicated to Moscow that they will not allow Russia to drive a wedge between them and the United States. But, with the exception of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, today's governments in Western Europe are led by parties of the center-left that have yet to feel totally comfortable with the new, more "realist" Republican administration. They particularly do not support what they see as evidence of a new American unilateralism, ranging from the rejection of the CTBT to possible troop withdrawals in the Balkans to the U.S. attitude toward the Kyoto Protocol. They want to see the retention of an engaged Western security relationship with Russia.

Accordingly, the Europeans will pay very close attention to how the Bush administration deals with Russia concerning the ABM Treaty. As indicated above, serious negotiations that led either to an amended treaty or to a new treaty that permitted a limited level of missile defense would be well received, probably with a sigh of relief. President Bush's full review of the U.S. nuclear posture now underway is seen as a much needed step. An agreement with Moscow that developed a new mix of a lower level of offensive strategic and limited defensive forces could be the best possible outcome—provided, of course, that the overarching principle of nuclear deterrence was maintained.

Significantly, therefore, some European analysts view Russia as a potential part of the solution to the missile defense conundrum rather than as a contributor to the problem. Russia's recent public recognition that there is indeed a threat from missile proliferation and weapons of mass destruction is seen as a positive step forward. (Interestingly, Russia's own list of rogue-equivalents includes North Korea, Iraq, and Iran.) They welcome President Putin's initiatives in opening dialogue with North Korea and Iran, cognizant of the need to balance the possible benefits that might ensue against the risks and reality of Russian military assistance to these two countries.

In Europe's eyes, potentially the most important Russian initiative was begun when then-Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev presented NATO Secretary-General George Robertson on February 20 with a plan for the joint development of a theater missile defense (TMD). Criticized as being long on generalities and short on specifics, such as technical parameters and cost estimates, Moscow's proposal nevertheless could become the first step toward the development of a cooperative effort between Europe and Russia in defending against rogue states. Reportedly based on the mobile S-300 and the soon-to-be-completed S-400 (similar to the U.S. Patriot), which are intended as air defense systems, such a defense would be more effective against enemy aircraft than missiles. But because it would use interceptors designed only to counter non-strategic ballistic missiles, the system proposed by the Russians would fall within the limits allowed by the ABM Treaty and the 1997 demarcation agreements.

Thus far, the plan has brought little response from the West, and Russia is due to provide further exposition at a meeting of the Russian-NATO Permanent Joint Council in Brussels. Although there are American suspicions that the proposal is little more than a Russian plan to split the European missile defense doubters from the American proponents, there is little to be lost in commencing a dialogue on missile defense with the Russians, and there could be some value. The risks are negligible since Lord Robertson, Chancellor Schroeder, and other European leaders have made it crystal clear that, whatever their doubts about missile defense, they will not allow their countries to be split from the United States.

Opportunity Costs

As the Europeans contemplate missile defense, including their own potential participation in an eventual U.S.-European project, they must also recognize the opportunity costs that would be involved. These opportunity costs are both economic and political. For the United States, a national missile defense could be considered affordable. Initial outlays of $3 billion to $6 billion per year and subsequent growth suggest the cost might reach $100 billion over a decade or more, an arguably manageable amount in an annual defense budget of close to $350 billion. Given the strategic priority that the Bush administration has accorded missile defense, it would find this justifiable.

But Europe has a different set of priorities. A European theater missile defense program that cost as little as 25 percent of the U.S. total would put a very large crimp in national defense budgets. More importantly, as Europe coalesces under the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), it has other foreign and security policy priorities. Under the Helsinki goals adopted in December 1999, the members of the European Union are committed to fielding a rapid reaction force of 60,000 soldiers by 2003. Such a force, in order to have effective power projection, will require support systems that are currently not available, such as intelligence satellites, advanced command and communications systems, and adequate air transport and sealift capacities. Already, Europe supplies four times as many troops in Bosnia and Kosovo as does the United States. The European Union has undertaken primary responsibility for the reconstruction of the Balkans through the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. And the costs of enlarging the EU to include new members from central and eastern Europe over the next 10-20 years will be sizeable.

As it is, both ESDP and the Stability Pact have credibility problems due to lack of adequate funding. The United States, for its part, is urging the Europeans to spend more on defense at a time when their defense budgets are declining. Washington is making its full support for ESDP implicitly contingent on the funding of new military capabilities rather than the duplication of the existing NATO force structure. Moreover, the Europeans are being pressed by the United States through NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative, originated by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen, to acquire the high-tech weaponry needed for the modern battlefield. In addition, the Europeans are struggling with the difficulties of maintaining the high standards of the state-sponsored societal benefits to which they have grown accustomed in such matters as health, education, and pensions. For all these reasons, Europe's present foreign and domestic concerns are more focused on the more immediate problems of Europe, including the Balkans, EU enlargement, and their own societies, than they are on the hypothetical threat of ballistic missiles from distant states that may not be so hostile to them.

 

Toward an Allied Missile Defense

In part to pre-empt and respond to European concerns, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld have frequently promised that, in addition to protecting the 50 states, the Bush missile defense plan will be designed to defend America's friends and allies, as well as U.S. troops deployed overseas. How this sweeping commitment, which on its face extends to Asian as well as European allies, will actually be carried out is an intriguing and important question. In dropping the word "national" before "missile defense" this March, Rumsfeld declared that he no longer thought in terms of "national" or "theater" systems and that the purpose of creating a unified approach is to avoid "significant differentials in vulnerabilities" between the United States and its allies.

The concept of an "allied missile defense," a phrase first used in the Bush campaign, is not totally novel. NATO has been working on developing a theater missile defense for several years. In time, this effort could be melded with the new plan for the missile defense of the United States, thereby creating an allied missile defense.5

This coming June, NATO's Consultation, Command and Communications Agency will award two contracts of $13.5 million each for feasibility studies to design a future theater missile defense system for the alliance. According to Robert Bell, NATO assistant secretary-general for defense support and a former defense and arms control official on Clinton's National Security Council, this should put the alliance in position to make a well-informed decision in 2004 on the development of a program and could lead to initial deployments by approximately 2010.6

As presently envisioned, NATO's TMD project will be a multilayered extension of its air defense system with the anti-missile element having two components: a lower-range package including the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 with some European contributions; and a higher-range package including the U.S. Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which is scheduled to be deployed in 2007. Such a plan would replace the ill-fated MEADS (Medium Extended Air Defense System) program, the major multinational NATO air defense endeavor of the past decade, which has faced multiple problems and delays.

This new theater missile defense, it is important to note, will not be designed to defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles and will therefore not contravene the ABM Treaty. Rather, it is primarily intended to provide NATO with the ability to protect a corps-size deployment of troops and some limited, close-in territory. It will, nevertheless, give NATO the ability to interdict short-range missiles, such as Scuds, aimed at targets such as cities and ports. There is, therefore, the possibility of an eventual melding of a high-tech missile defense system built for the United States, if and when achieved, with a considerably more limited theater missile defense system built for Europe (or Asia). Whether this constitutes something called an allied missile defense, sufficient to avoid a perception of "decoupling," is an open question.

An allied missile defense that includes a major European TMD component produces a gleam in the eye of European defense industries. Such a project would undoubtedly become the largest transatlantic weapons collaboration of all time. Four sets of major American and European defense contractors have already teamed together. Although the resulting technology transfers would be two-way, the Europeans would certainly benefit the most. This helps account for some of the recent European reticence in criticizing American missile defense plans (e.g., Schroeder's mention of the possible benefits for German industry). French industry has also shown interest, even though the Quai d'Orsay has little good to say about missile defense. And even the Russians have shown an interest in participating in NATO's TMD program, pointing out the opportunities that exist in their own European-wide TMD proposal for technological collaboration.

Of course, there are problems with a potential collaborative effort. European defense planners harbor doubts regarding the extent to which the United States is ultimately prepared for a large amount of high-level technology transfers. And although they concede that there may be a political case for involving Moscow, they doubt that the Russians would be able to bring much scientific knowledge to the table. Another major issue is money. Given the ever-tightening constraints on European defense budgets and the opportunity costs listed earlier, the governments are likely to insist that, if the Americans want allied missile defense, then they should pay for it or at least provide financial assistance. But such an approach is not likely to find favor in a Washington that will be searching for the means to pay for the expensive missile defense of the United States and that has—perhaps wishfully—convinced itself that Europe's interests in its own missile defense are self-evident.

 

Narrowing the U.S.-European Gap

The gap between Europe and the United States on missile defense remains wide. Unlike most of the great transatlantic security debates of the past, such as the controversies over the multilateral nuclear force in the 1960s, the neutron bomb in the 1970s, intermediate-range nuclear forces in the 1980s, and NATO enlargement in the 1990s—all instances in which the Europeans (like the Americans) were split among themselves—the Europeans in today's missile defense debate are generally unified. The fissures are much deeper on the American side.

With a few exceptions, those Europeans who are engaged with the issue have yet to be persuaded that the United States has made a compelling case for missile defense. As we have seen, their skepticism is based upon fundamental considerations, such as the seriousness of the threat, the opportunity costs in relation to other European foreign and security policy priorities, the future of the ABM Treaty and international arms control, and the impact on relations with Russia and China. To this must be added doubts about the technological feasibility of missile defenses and the financial cost of their participation in an allied missile defense project.

The Europeans are calibrating their positions and their diplomacy fully cognizant of the fact that missile defense is a long-term issue. The required technology is not likely to be ready and deployable for a decade. Who knows what U.S. policy will be in 2010? Will there still be rogue states and, if so, which? What will be the true nature of the threat? Although ballistic missile proliferation cannot be discounted—and the Europeans have increasingly acknowledged the problems it presents—they are fully aware that it is only one dimension of the threat from weapons of mass destruction. Still more than the United States, protected by two large oceans, the Europeans are vulnerable to surreptitious entry of biological, chemical, and nuclear materials through their porous borders. For the Europeans, therefore, missile defense is seen as nothing more than a particular solution to a relatively narrow problem.

In addition, European leaders are deeply reluctant to take steps that could open a debate within their own countries about nuclear weapons. The divisive and ugly history of such controversies in Europe, such as the Ban the Bomb unilateral disarmament campaign in the late 1950s in Britain and the Pershing-2 deployment issue in Germany in the early 1980s, is not forgotten. Public support for the British and French nuclear forces has fallen, as has European support for and interest in defense programs in general. The conviction held by many Americans, that if the nation can be protected, it must be, simply does not resonate equally in Europe. European publics know no more about missile defense than the American public knows about the European rapid reaction force.

The Bush administration has promised the European governments close and complete consultations. But what does this mean? Too often in the past close consultations have been more readily proclaimed than performed. The traditional pattern has been to fight the Washington policy wars to the point of exhaustion, after which the results are explained to the allies with the admonition that it would be too difficult to reopen any major issues.

Allied missile defense will require a new approach to consultations if it is to be realized. A true partnership is called for, involving early and extensive consultations. The allies should participate in the decision-making, not just in subsequent decision-sharing. This means involvement in decisions regarding the missile defense architecture to be selected. A multilayered architecture that relies on boost-phase interceptors, for example, would have direct implications for, and could well be integrated with, a European theater missile defense. Similarly, the Europeans should be closely consulted on any renewed American approach to Russia regarding the ABM Treaty and discussions with China and Asian allies. European objections will be reduced and confidence enhanced to the extent that European governments are listened to at an early stage. For the United States to manage this complex endeavor successfully, it will have to accept a deeper level of openness and cooperation with its allies than ever before. An excellent place to start would be President Bush's visit to NATO in June.

 

NOTES

1. Francois Heisbourg, "Brussels's Burden," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000, p. 129.

2. Office of Research, Department of State, "Key Allied Publics Say: National Missile What?" July 10, 2000.

3. Comments made at "International Perspectives on National Missile Defense," BASIC Forum held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 18, 2000.

4. Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eighth Report, Weapons of Mass Destruction: National Missile Defense and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, House of Commons, August 2, 2000.

5. President Bill Clinton, at the close of a U.S.-EU summit in March 2000 in Lisbon, en route to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, did indicate that he was willing to share the planned limited defense shield with U.S. allies and other "civilized nations," but his administration never developed this thought much further.

6. Luke Hill, "TMD: NATO Starts the Count," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 3, 2001.

 


Andrew J. Pierre is a senior associate at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and adjunct professor in the National Security Studies Program, both at Georgetown University. He formerly served as director-general of the Atlantic Institute for International Affairs in Paris.

Posted: May 1, 2001

The First 100 Days

From an arms control perspective, the first 100 days of George W. Bush's presidency have been a disaster. President Bush has demonstrated that he believes, and intends to implement, his campaign rhetoric condemning past arms control accomplishments and even the concept of arms control itself. Unless he changes direction, Bush will have effectively demolished the arms control regime that has been painstakingly built over the past 30 years. (Continue)

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

From an arms control perspective, the first 100 days of George W. Bush's presidency have been a disaster. President Bush has demonstrated that he believes, and intends to implement, his campaign rhetoric condemning past arms control accomplishments and even the concept of arms control itself. Unless he changes direction, Bush will have effectively demolished the arms control regime that has been painstakingly built over the past 30 years.

Bush's intentions became clear when he surrounded himself with advisers drawn almost exclusively from a small circle of individuals who share the belief that arms control is fundamentally contrary to U.S. interests because it places limits on U.S. development and deployment of weapons. Supremely confident of U.S. economic, technological, operational, and moral superiority, these advisers would prefer to forego constraints on the military programs of potential adversaries than to reduce U.S. military flexibility.

The principal target of this undisguised animosity toward arms control has been the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. This treaty, negotiated by President Richard Nixon and overwhelmingly ratified in 1972, stands in the way of Bush's announced intention to move as quickly as possible to deploy a robust national missile defense (NMD) system. Such an NMD system would be antithetical both to the treaty's blanket prohibition on systems to defend the entire territory of either the United States or Russia and to practically every specific provision of the treaty.

Recognizing that the ABM Treaty cannot be amended to accommodate a robust defense, Bush has set the stage for withdrawal from the treaty. While this is within a president's constitutional powers, it is not a trivial act. In fact, there is no precedent for U.S. withdrawal from a formal ratified and deposited arms control treaty. President Ronald Reagan, despite his enthusiasm for a "Star Wars" defense, never proposed withdrawing from the ABM Treaty.

Bush's distaste for treaties has not been limited only to the ABM Treaty, but has also extended to formal restrictions on strategic offensive weapons. He calls for unilateral reductions, claiming formal treaties take too long to negotiate. Were he willing to use his influence with Senator Jesse Helms, START II could be brought into force promptly and START III negotiations could be undertaken immediately. Vague promises of unilateral reductions reflect the desire to maintain maximum flexibility in structuring U.S. forces with no constraints on future deployments. Freedom of action is given higher priority than the START II provisions eliminating Russia's 150 remaining 10-warhead SS-18 ICBMs as well as MIRVed SS-24s and SS-19s, and banning deployment of future MIRVed Topol-M land-based ICBMs.

In rejecting formal treaties, Bush abandons agreed verification procedures that will become increasingly important at lower force levels, as will specific provisions to guard against rapid breakout changing the strategic balance. In charting the nuclear future, Bush has apparently forgotten the admonition of President Reagan: "Trust but verify."

True to campaign rhetoric, the Bush administration states it will not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on the spurious grounds that testing is required for stockpile safety and reliability. The administration apparently wishes to be in a position to test new types of weapons for new missions, such as low-yield earth-penetrating weapons.

As further evidence of his disdain for arms control agreements, Bush chose not to continue the promising negotiations, inherited from the Clinton administration, aimed at eliminating North Korea's ballistic missile development program and its missile exports. His personal public rejection of even attempting a diplomatic solution to this important problem was widely seen as reflecting not only a lack of interest in arms control but also a desire to maintain North Korea as a threat to justify his costly missile defense plans, as opposed to eliminating the threat at little or no cost through diplomacy.

The proposed 2002 budget for the Department of Energy includes substantial cuts for programs to reduce the leakage of materials and personnel from the Russian nuclear program. Coming on the heels of an independent bipartisan commission's recommendation to increase substantially the funding for these programs, one wonders about the administration's commitment to meaningful unilateral actions.

To say the least, the first 100 days have not augured well for arms control. The promised light at the end of the tunnel is not a glimpse of a new post-Cold-War, laissez-faire military paradise where the United States can do whatever it pleases, but rather an oncoming locomotive portending a disastrous collision with reality. Surely, President Bush does not want to be remembered as the man who killed arms control and replaced it with an ineffective defense in a world of military anarchy.

Posted: May 1, 2001

Moscow Provides Few Details on BMD Proposal

Russia offered little additional detail on its proposed pan-European missile defense during an April 26 meeting of the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council at NATO headquarters in Brussels. All 19 NATO ambassadors and NATO Secretary-General George Robertson attended, along with former Russian Defense Minister, now presidential assistant, Igor Sergeyev, who headed the Russian delegation. The meeting marked the first time the two sides discussed the issue since Moscow presented Robertson with an initial, vague proposal in late February. (See ACT, March 2001.)

At the meeting, the Russian side concentrated on the "conceptual and procedural rather than the technical or hardware," according to a NATO spokesperson. Russian officials since February have said that, before talking about the means to counter the threat from missile proliferation, including missile defense, there must first be discussions on whether a threat exists.

Basic elements of the Russian proposal remain unclear, such as whether Moscow envisions a missile defense system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles in their boost, mid-course, or re-entry phase. Moscow has been very clear, however, that the proposed system would be designed to intercept short- and medium-range theater ballistic missiles and not long-range strategic ballistic missiles. Russia staunchly opposes U.S. proposals to build a system providing nationwide or global defenses against strategic ballistic missiles, which would violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Posted: May 1, 2001

Top Pentagon Officials Make Case for Layered Missile Defense

Wade Boese

While the Bush administration is continuing its review of U.S. missile defense options, the Pentagon's top two officials in March revealed a clear preference for a future layered missile defense unconstrained by the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

In an interview published March 18 in The London Sunday Telegraph, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, appeared to be making the case for a layered defense consisting of multiple types of anti-ballistic missile systems, including sea-based systems. Wolfowitz asserted that "the best thing is to attack a missile several different ways" because that approach maximizes the chances of intercepting it. Rumsfeld added that that was the reason "people say that eventually one would anticipate that you'd have something that would be not a single system, but a layered system with flexibility and some redundancy."

In the interview, Wolfowitz said the "most attractive" time to shoot down a missile is when it is in the boost phase, which is when it is moving most slowly and its rocket engines are still firing, making it an easier target. The deputy secretary suggested that a sea-based missile interceptor would be "very effective" for boost-phase intercepts and stated that there is nothing "physically" preventing an anti-strategic ballistic missile from being stationed on a ship. (A Pentagon review recently reported that there is no near-term sea-based NMD option. See Pentagon Report Highlights Hurdles for Missile Defenses.)

As a presidential candidate last year, President George W. Bush campaigned against the Clinton administration's proposed limited national missile defense (NMD), which would initially consist of 20 ground-based missile interceptors stationed in Alaska to protect the U.S. homeland from strategic ballistic missile attacks. Bush described the system as "flawed" and said his administration would look into different technologies and deploy effective missile defenses "at the earliest possible date" with an expanded mission of protecting U.S. friends and allies in addition to U.S. territory and troops.

Rumsfeld asserted in the March 18 interview that the Clinton administration did "no real work" on missile defense because it had only one approach—developing a ground-based system—with the aim of staying "broadly" within the ABM Treaty. Rumsfeld said that would not be the case with the Bush administration, explaining, "We've asked our people to look at missile defense unconstrained by the [ABM] Treaty."

The 1972 ABM Treaty and its 1974 protocol proscribed nationwide defenses against strategic ballistic missiles but permitted 100 missile interceptors at a single site for a limited regional defense. The treaty further outlawed the development, testing, or deployment of sea-, air-, space-, and mobile land-based systems or components, thereby limiting permissible defenses against strategic missiles to ground-based designs.

Rumsfeld, who characterized the treaty as "ancient history" at his Senate confirmation hearing, declared in the interview that he does not see the accord as "having a central role in strategic stability." He said that at some point the United States would need to make changes to the treaty. As a candidate, Bush said that he would withdraw from the treaty if Russia did not accept U.S. proposals for amending the accord to permit a U.S. missile defense deployment. Russia rejected all Clinton efforts to amend the treaty.

At his February 27 confirmation hearing, Wolfowitz testified that the United States, hopefully with Russian cooperation, needs to relax ABM Treaty restrictions, explaining his view that U.S. NMD development over the past 10 years would have been very different "if the ABM Treaty hadn't been there or if it had been modified." According to Wolfowitz, the administration wants to "find the most effective, least expensive, and least provocative way" of developing a defense.

Earlier in the month, Rumsfeld reaffirmed Bush's campaign pledge that whatever missile defense system is pursued, the objective will be to protect all 50 U.S. states, deployed U.S. troops, and U.S. allies. Speaking on March 8, Rumsfeld declared that he no longer thought of missile defense in terms of "national" and "theater" systems. According to Rumsfeld, this purpose of such a unified approach is to avoid creating "significant differentials in vulnerabilities" between the United States and its allies. "One has to recognize that it's every bit as important to us…and to have our allies feel equally secure to the extent that's possible," the secretary stated.

For the time being, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which oversees U.S. missile defense programs, is continuing work on the Clinton NMD. In February, a Pentagon spokesman noted that Rumsfeld had directed BMDO to "press on" with system testing and research, although no initial site preparation or construction activity in Alaska has been authorized. If the Bush administration opts to continue the Clinton system, it would be expected to approve construction by the end of 2001 if it hoped to start building in 2002.

Posted: April 1, 2001

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