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A Look at National Missile Defense

Essay by review  •  October 17, 2010  •  Essay  •  962 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,030 Views

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In the late 1950s, due to the former Soviet Union successfully launching a satellite into space with the help of a multi-stage missile, the United States then began to address the idea of missile defenses. Soon, both offensive and defensive long-range ballistic missile development would be placed on our government's agenda. The objective was simple, to develop a system that could track down any missiles launched at the United States, and eliminate them before they reached their designated targets. Nike-Zeus was one of the first U.S. efforts to mount a defense against ballistic missiles. Its concept called for a 400-kiloton nuclear warhead to be detonated when in range with incoming missiles. This design had numerous flaws, and after several decades of improvements, it was updated during Lyndon B. Johnson's presidency. By this time in 1967, the United States realized it could never stop an all-out attach by the Soviets, and therefore shifted its efforts to protecting major cities from attack. Following the 1969 election of Richard Nixon, the missile defense focus shifted once again, this time to guarding cities with vital military stations. The United States and Soviet Union we now in full-fledged competition to see whose systems would be completed fastest, and with the most efficiency. In 1972, to help curb excessive production of long-range defense systems, the U.S. and Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. This treaty limited both powers to having only two anti-ballistic missile sites. In a 1983 televised nationwide address, President Reagan relayed his thoughts on how the U.S. could take the lead in the missile systems race. He announced the initiation of the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as Star Wars. This initiative remained intact well into the early 1990s, when after the collapse of the Soviet Union, President George Bush called a review where he changed the focus of the SDI to defending deployed American forces from missile threats. When the Clinton Administration came into power in 1993, the SDI became the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The new organization projected that a defense system would be deployed by 2003, but due to technological defects, a foolproof system has not yet been constructed.

The attitudes of competing countries towards our development of a defense system seem to follow a specific pattern of opposition. China, for instance, who has highlighted their national interests as economic development, reunification with Taiwan, and strengthening their power globally, say they would feel compelled to counter any developments the U.S. makes in the missile defense race, with developments of their own. In their opinion, an increase in spending for that cause would drastically throw off the economic balance that they have worked to achieve.

Secondly, Japan, who wishes to remain non-threatening to the United States as well as our neighbors, is seeking to maintain its military alliances. This, along with its continued contributions to international economic and political organizations that provide order to international relations, are Japan's main national interests (Berry 1). They feel that since Japan has been left out of most National Missile Defense talks previously, the strengthening of the United State's missile defense would only weaken our alliance with one another.

Russia, whose deteriorating military efficiency has caused their officials to question

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