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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Do We Have To 'Accept' U.S. NMD?

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Visiting Moscow this week, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer predicted that Russia will drop its objections to America's proposed national missile defense. "In the end," Fischer told journalists, "the Russians are going to accept it somehow."

This is the voice of the new realpolitik. Of course, the international situation being what it is, the Americans can pretty much do what they want and the rest of the world will "accept it." In the case of NMD, the Bush administration can proceed and neither the objections of Russia nor those of China or of France or of any other country will matter.

The Bush administration argues that NMD will protect the United States from small-scale missile attacks by countries that are now fashionably known as "states of concern." However, many analysts have questioned whether such attacks present a real threat to the United States.

Even the so-called Rumsfeld Report, a 1998 congressional study by a commission headed by now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, only states that — in a worst-case scenario — some rogue states "could" develop such a capability within five years, not that they "would." Also, that report does not compare the urgency of that threat to others such as the threat of "suitcase" bombs delivering nuclear, biological or chemical devices.

Nonetheless, the United States seems poised to spend up to $240 billion on an NMD system.

But are the uncertain benefits of NMD really worth the certain costs that will come if Russia is forced "to accept" an American fait accompli? We wonder if the Bush administration understands that plowing ahead with NMD will derail any Russian effort to advance serious military reform. The reform program that the Security Council adopted in November and further measures in this vein would certainly promote stability and security throughout the region. Such a development would be in the U.S. national interest.

Moreover, NMD will bury President Vladimir Putin's provocative proposal to reduce strategic warheads to 1,000 to 1,500 per side. The United States, however, seems unwilling to consider cuts below 2,500. Building NMD and abrogating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, however, merely justify maintaining large nuclear stockpiles at a time when deep cuts seem feasible.

Most dangerously, by adopting the "go-it-alone" NMD strategy, the United States is essentially pulling the rug out from under international efforts with Russia, China and other countries to prevent nuclear (and chemical and biological) proliferation in the first place.

Bush should "accept" that the world is safer without NMD.