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Defending America

The Case for Limited National Missile Defense

James M. Lindsay and Michael O'Hanlon

Publication Year: 2001

Arms control and missile defense are once again at the forefront of the American national security agenda. Not surprisingly, the debate has broken down along well-worn lines. Arms control advocates dismiss the idea of missile defense as a dangerous and costly folly. Missile defense advocates argue that the U.S. should move aggressively to defend itself against missile attack. With clear and lively prose free of partisan rhetoric, Defending America provides reliable, factual analysis of the missile defense debate. Written for a general audience, it assesses the current and likely future missile threat to the United States, examines relevant technologies, and suggests how America's friends and foes would react to a decision to build a national missile defense. Lindsay and O'Hanlon reject calls for large-scale systems as well as proposals to do nothing, instead arguing for a limited national missile defense.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Dedication Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Should the United States deploy a national missile defense? This is one of the most important policy questions facing President George W. Bush. His decisions on missile defense will have potentially enormous consequences for America’s security and international affairs.The United States has never had a nationwide defense against missile attack. That raises questions about whether the United States will someday...

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Preface to the Paperback Edition

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pp. xi-xxiii

We completed Defending America shortly after George W. Bush assumed the presidency. Since then, several major events have occurred—most notably, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and President Bush’s December 2001 decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. What impact do these events have on...


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pp. xxv-xxvi

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Chapter One: Defending America

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pp. 1-28

Should the United States build a national missile defense (NMD) to protect the American people, and possibly key allies as well, against attack by long-range ballistic missiles? President Bill Clinton’s September 2000 announcement that he was deferring the decision on whether to deploy an NMD system puts this question squarely on the Bush administration’s agenda. The United States currently has no...

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Chapter Two: Missile Defense: Concepts and Systems

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pp. 29-49

Ballistic missiles are rockets designed to accelerate to fast enough speeds so that they can fly relatively long distances before falling back to earth. They are first accelerated by the combustion of some type of fuel, after which they simply follow an unpowered—or ballistic—trajectory. They consist, most basically, of rocket engines, fuel...

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Chapter Three: The Threat

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pp. 50-81

Does the United States confront a threat that justifies building a national missile defense? Although claims are frequently made that ballistic missiles are rapidly proliferating around the world, the current and likely future missile threat to the U.S. homeland comes from only five countries: Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. The first two already have long-range missiles and nuclear weapons; the others might...

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Chapter Four: Missile Defense Programs and Architectures

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pp. 82-115

If a national missile defense makes sense in theory, what kind of system is most likely to provide prudent protection at a reasonable budgetary cost? Should the system be based on land, at sea, in the air, or in space? How many interceptors or other defensive weapons should be deployed and at how many sites? And how many years would it take to develop and deploy a system? This chapter provides technical background...

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Chapter Five: The International Politics of Missile Defense

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pp. 116-141

The decision on whether to proceed with national missile defense involves more than assessing the threat and evaluating the feasibility of competing architectures. It also involves weighing the consequences that a national missile defense (NMD) deployment might have on international politics and America’s interests abroad. It is not overstating things to say that missile defense has become, perhaps even more than it...

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Chapter Six: Missile Defense and American Security

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pp. 142-167

Should the United States build a national missile defense? Critics have advanced many thoughtful arguments for saying no: the threat to the United States comes from only a handful of countries, most of which are probably not now close to having operational intercontinental missiles; the United States cannot yet build a fully functioning NMD system; enemies could attack the United States in ways that do not require...

Appendix A: Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and Related Documents

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pp. 169-192

Appendix B: Excerpts from the DCI National Intelligence Estimate

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pp. 193-196

Appendix C: Excerpts from the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission Report

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pp. 197-217

Appendix D: Excerpts from the 1999 National Intelligence Estimate

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pp. 218-226


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pp. 227-246


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pp. 247-258

E-ISBN-13: 9780815798675
E-ISBN-10: 0815798679

Page Count: 273
Publication Year: 2001