Ballistic missile defense, ICBM modernization, and small strategic attacks: out of the frying pan?

by Kevin N. Lewis

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After a decade of relative dormancy, the question of whether to deploy antimissile defenses has reemerged as the subject of intense debate. This paper suggests that any near-term U.S. ABM decision should pay equal heed to another consideration: the consequences of an expanded Soviet ABM system on U.S. and NATO strategy and planning for small, theater conflict-oriented strategic attacks. As the United States makes critical choices over the next few months and years, it is vital to recall that U.S. and Soviet strategic aims and contexts are by no means symmetric ones. It would seem that the net effect of such considerations would be to support every effort possible to devise an MX basing concept that does not rely on active defense.

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