Is a missile defense system an ineffective military strategy?
Debate structure and format
This will be a LD style debate. The first round is for accepting, and refining if necessary, the definitions and conditions of the debate. The second round is for opening arguments. The third round is for rebuttals and additional arguments. The four round is for final rebuttals and closing arguments; no new arguments. We will each have 48 hours to post our respective arguments and rebuttals, and there is an 8000-character limit.
Resolution: Is a missile defense system an ineffective military strategy?
I (Chthonian) will be Pro, defending the resolution as true.
Physik will be Con, defending the resolution as false.
The burden of proof will be equally shared.
Missile defense system— is a system, weapon, or technology involved in the detection, tracking, interception and destruction of attacking missiles (1).
Military--of or relating to soldiers, arms, or war (2).
Strategy— a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal (3)
Ineffective— not producing an intended effect; not capable of performing efficiently or as expected (4)
There are at least 4 military purposes for developing and deploying a missile defense system. The principal reason would be to stop an attacking missile by striking it with a defensive missile. A second reason for having such as system would be to deter such attacks in the first pace; the logic here is that if the enemy thinks there is a low probability of hitting an objective, then they are less likely to fire the missile. A third reason would be to use the system as diplomatic leverage; the idea is that the nation state or entity that has such a system will be taken more seriously on the global political stage. A fourth reason to develop and deploy a missile defense system is to establish a sense of security for both civilians and soldiers.
The focus of my position will be to present an argument demonstrating that a missile defense system provides no support to any of the above reasons.
Technical issues and limitations
As mentioned above, the primary purpose for developing and deploying a missile defense system is to intercept an attacking missile. There are multiple components involved in such an endeavor. Aside from the defensive missile itself and the human element coordinating the missile launch, the system is also dependent on a tracking and guiding system that is either ground, sea or air based. One such system that has been stated to be the most advantageous is the US Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), which use long and short infrared detectors to track missiles midcourse and during the boost phase (1). However, there are several glaring problems with this so-called advantage. To begin, the boost phase is an acceleration phase that lasts only 3-4 minutes at which time the missile would have reach peak velocity (2). It would seem highly unlikely that there would be enough time to engage multiple approaching missiles or suppress a surprise attack.
The problem with the midcourse track is that modern attack missiles can deploy multiple war heads or infrared decoy countermeasures, thus several anti-ballistic missiles would be needed to intercept each of the war-heads and decoys, which would all have different tracking trajectories (3). And it seems highly improbable that any system can track and guide multiple missiles towards incoming missiles with different trajectories.
Aside from the technical issues, the costs associated with developing and testing such a system make the cost benefit analysis overwhelmingly in favor of dropping it. The US missile defense system is said to cost as much as 149 billion US dollars over the course of the last 29 years (4). Remarkably, the US Congress has decided to increase the 2012 budget on the still-unproven missile defense system (4), in face of large government expense cuts due to the current shaky economic climate. Ironically, in 2010 the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the greatest threat to US national security is not an enemy attack, but the national debt (5). It would seem that a missile defense system is not a wise investment because it continues to hamper the national debt—increasing the threat to US national security, and it fails to provide any feasible military gain or benefit.
While it would seem at first glance that providing a missile defense shield can help establish allies by mutually protecting against common enemies. The reality is that a missile defense system actually increases tensions between nation states. This is evident by Russia arming missiles to take out such defenses (6) Further, the US plan to setup a missile defense system in Europe is actually causing consternation with China, and ironically is improving relations between China and Russia (7)—nation states with tremendous nuclear capabilities. And the key to diplomacy with and enforcement of economic sanctions against North Korea and Iran--the two biggest government threats developing long-range ballistic missiles--is to maintain non-hostile relationships with both Russia and China. The missile defense system creates a hostile environment for both China and Russia, and is thus not useful for establishing diplomatic relations with those nations who can help ensure peace.
The primary purpose of the missile defense system is to track and intercept incoming missiles. Yet the data thus far from the US would suggest that the system is ineffective against uncomplicated threats. For example, during tests of the US Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, only 8 intercepts were achieved out of 16 attempts (8). Thus, this missile defense system is about as reliable and predictable as a coin toss, and this example is not even close to a realistic operational battle scenario. One can't find comfort and security with those odds. Moreover, these odds would actually give an aggressor and incentive to attack--not deter one, because it guarantees that at least half the missiles will hit their objective.
In addition, as recent events have played out across the globe, terrorism is the most imminent threat to global security. And a missile defense system is not only ineffective in fighting global terrorisms, but is rendered moot because terrorists employ unorthodox military tactics designed to hit soft civilian targets in order to maximize the fear from the attack, not the physical damage it causes. National governments need to focus their military efforts on those programs that can be translated in to successful military operations. The missile defense system clearly doesn't live up to this threshold and will not provide any security during terrorist guerilla warfare.
The primary objective for any military conflict is to prevent outward aggression. Creative diplomacy and economic sanctions are feasible tactics in this regard, but if an aggressor were bent on attacking, a more effective military strategy would be to retaliate with overwhelming force. A missile defense system is an ineffective military strategy because it prolongs the engagement by leaving the aggressors around for another day to fight and is too expensive, unreliable and politically sensitive to put into practice.
I now yield the floor to Physik…
I would first like to thank Mr. Infidel for organising the tournament, and my opponent for participating. Best of luck to him!
I would like to begin by stating my interpretation of the resolution, which is; is a missile defence system, a system designed for the purpose of defending against missile attacks , an ineffective military strategy? I would like to remind everyone that the resolution specifically states ‘a missile defence system’, and is therefore discussing the concept of a missile defence system in general.
Furthermore one must take into account the strategic objective of such a system, which I would argue (and apparently my opponent agrees), consists of (but may not be limited to) the following:
All of these points are in fact of vital interest to any military party directly or indirectly involved. The question therefore is, is a missile defence system  an effective solution to achieve the desired goals? I am, of course, arguing that it is; and my arguments will frequently refer to the desired military objectives (as laid out above). So, without further ado…
Contention 1 – A missile defence system is an effective (and in the case of the first, the only) way to achieve the desired military objectives.
I would like start my arguments by pointing out the self-evident fact that, in the event of a missile launch, the only way to prevent the missile reaching its target (short of a crack team of commando’s taking over a base and manually detonating it) would be through some type of missile defence system. By default, this fact makes a missile defence system the effective military strategy to achieve the first desired objective.
I will simply cycle through the remaining objectives:
Does a missile defence system act as a deterrent to a potential missile attack? Obviously; the attacker will no doubt be perturbed at the possibility of their missile having no effect, and may very well be inclined to abandon their attack.
Does a missile defence system act as a way to gain a form of political leverage? Again, it obviously does. To quote my opponent; “the idea is that the nation state or entity that has such a system will be taken more seriously on the global political stage.” This statement is resoundingly true; nations often make displays of strength in an effort to improve their political standing. A recent example would include North Korea firing a missile in a show of strength after the death of Kim Jong-Il . Or perhaps the Great White Fleet of America, a century past . No one can ever underestimate the power of intimidation and displays of strength; and the benefits that may follow. The mere presence and acknowledgment of such capabilities certainly acts as a form of political leverage.
And lastly, does a missile defence system provide a sense of security to the masses? Again, the answer is a resounding yes. Would the majority of people feel safer with, or without a missile defence system? Would the majority of people feel safer with, or without a system designed to protect them from hostile threats? There’s a great essay written about the concept here . Of course, I don’t expect anyone to read the entire thing, but an excerpt from the introduction is as follows:
“Or, more generally, you can be secure even though you don't feel secure. And you can feel secure even though you're not. The feeling and reality of security are certainly related to each other, but they're just as certainly not the same as each other. We'd probably be better off if we had two different words for them.”
In essence, the perceived sense of security is not necessarily reflective of the mathematical probability to security. However, the perceived sense of security that arises from a missile defence system is undeniable, and as such, fulfils this military objective.
Contention 2 – All of world’s most prominent nations possess some form of a missile defence system or are actively pursuing the acquisition of said system.
The United States, France, Israel, Russia and now India  possess the direct capability to intercept and defend themselves against 2,000 kilometre intermediate range ballistic missiles. This is singling out a specific area of missile defence, but it is worth noting that these nations also possess the capability to deal with numerous of types of missile threats. Other nations, such as China , are actively pursuing and acquiring similar missile defence systems. And yet more nations, like the United Kingdom and Japan, are host to the missile defence system of other nations .
I would think the point I am raising is quite obvious; the most powerful nations in the world possess, or have the active desire to possess, missile defence systems. I would appeal to the fact that the military of these powers, the people who are undeniably the experts in this field, see the merit of missile defence systems in achieving their military objectives.
And, to ward off any possible accusation of a fallacious appeal to authority, I would draw everyone’s attention to this article . The two conditions required for a legitimate appeal to authority have been met.
In regards to the desired military objectives, a missile defence system fills them admirably, and if therefore an effective military strategy.
I wish my opponent the best of luck, and look forward to the continued debate.
Missile defense systems do not achieve their objectives
While my opponent and I agree on the intended purpose of the missile defense system, we are in an obvious disagreement as to whether it can achieve its goals.
The answer to the question of whether the system can safeguard an area is unequivocally no. As I alluded to in round 1, current missile defense technology does not provide the accuracy and success rate necessary to establish an effective defense system in complex battlefield scenarios. Other examples comes from observations of the Patriot anti-tactical ballistic missile during the first Gulf War that demonstrated how highly ineffective they are at hitting their target (1). Yet another example is the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) that has been shown to be only effective at intercepting 4 of 10 attempts against medium range test missiles during its demonstration-validation phase of development (2); that is a 40% success rate, which means that 60% of the time an area would be exposed and susceptible to attacking medium range missiles.
The answer to the question of whether a missile defense system can deter an attacking missile launch is clearly no. During the first Gulf War, Iraq fired multiple ballistic tactical missiles into Israel even after a missile defense system was operational (3). A missile defense system is not a deterrent because: 1) it is not very effective at stopping an attacking missile from hitting its target; and 2) it doesn't cause great substantial harm to the attacking force.
The answer to the question of whether a missile defense system can help gain political leverage is again no. As the current US missile defense system proposed for deployment in Europe demonstrates, such systems disrupt global strategic defenses and is an impediment to greater diplomatic relations between the China and Russia (4); superpowers who have the political clout to ensure that menacing nation states trying to develop medium and long-range ballistic missile don't use them capriciously. Moreover, a missile defense system has the potential to spark a dangerous arms race (4). Further, it is clear that the ballistic missiles in Iran--a nation considered hostile to most Western nations, comes from China and Russia, (5). Thus, it is of paramount importance to ensure transparency and have good relations with the nations providing the missile technology. Armed with this understanding, it is evident that more of an emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring better diplomatic relations with Russia and China, not spend billions of dollars a year trying to develop an ineffective missile defense system that only causes global friction.
The answer to the question of whether a missile defense system provides a sense of security depends on one's perceptions regarding how effective one thinks it is. With all the evidence and data I have provided, it would be rather na�ve to believe such a defense system can provide security for either civilians or the military.
Rebuttals to Con's contentions
My opponent's first contention is that the only way to prevent an attacking missile from hitting its target is to use a defensive missile. But as the multiple lines of evidence I have provided demonstrate, it is no trivial task to send a missile to stop another missile and the likelihood of the defensive killing the attacking missile is slim. Thus, this is not an effective military strategy to employ.
There are certainly other options the military can use such as targeting missile batteries, communication networks and/or radar systems before a missile attack; preemptively striking against aggressively hostile enemies. Another option is to develop sophisticated tracking systems to determine the missile's flight trajectory and establish early warning systems to evacuate areas before the missile hits it target, minimizing human casualties. Another creative solution is to build missile resistant bunkers or shelters that can be used to shield against incoming missiles (6). There are certainly other less expensive and more productive military strategies that can be used to limit the damaging effects of an attacking ballistic missile.
While I have already addressed many of Con's contentions in my opening argument of this round, I would like to point out a logical inconsistency with my opponent's opinion about a missile defense system given political leverage. The two examples he uses do not provide any support for his claim. First, the missile that North Korea fired after their long-time leader died was not a defensive missile, but an attacking short-range missile. Missile can't just be used interchangeably. And the second example also doesn't provide support for why a missile defense system gives a nation political leverage, because the "Great White Fleet" was battleships and naval squadrons designed to be attacking military mechanisms, not a defensive one. In fact, I agree that flaunting ones military attacking prowess can deter an attack from an enemy.
My opponent's second contention is that multiple nations have or are trying to develop missile defense systems, but this fact alone doesn't make the system an effective military strategy. The US has been developing missile defense systems for nearly 30 years, and they not only have failed during testing stages and battlefield situations, they have also failed to stop the attacks on US soil. Moreover, no missile defense system from any nation has being able to prevent military engagements or end hostile conflicts in the Middle East over the last 25+ years.
My opponent also claims that US, Russia, France, Israel and India possess the ‘direct capability' to intercept missile with a 2000km range. But as his referenced source points out, this only implies that these nations have or are developing the technology to launch an anti-ballistic missile, and in some cases hit test missile in simplified battle scenarios; not successfully engage and stop approaching missiles that have multiple countermeasures and decoys.
I would also like to point out that it is obvious that military men want the missile defense systems to work, but the hard, cold truth is that they don't. The systems are wrought with problems and limitation that render them ineffective as a military strategy.
The best defensive military strategy is to prevent the missile launch in the first place. The first line of defense is to try to establish diplomatic relations with relevant parties. If this fails, the second line of defense is to enact economic sanctions in order to make it harder to procure weapons grade technologies. A missile defense system just creates conditions that make it a very difficult to meet these objectives.
It is not hard to see why a missile defense system is a flawed military strategy. The fundamental problem with a missile defense system is that it doesn't weaken the force doing the attacking. And it doesn't provide a secure shield to protect vulnerable targets. As stated in round one, the more effective defensive strategy is to employ an overwhelming counter-offensive against hostile regimes, or at least let it be known categorically that that is what will result if such an attack occurs.
I thank my opponent for the continued debate.
Response - Missile defence systems do not achieve their objectives
As far as I can discern, my opponent raises four points. I will address these individually.
1) A missile defence system cannot safeguard an area.
In support of this, my opponent raised the issue of the THAAD and Patriot systems, and stipulated that as a result of their apparent inaccuracies, the odds of a missile defence system intercepting a missile is roughly 40%.
I would first like to point out that he specifically refers to “current missile defence technology”. I would remind him that the debate is referring to the concept of missile defence in general. I would also remind him that, as in all areas of technology, missile defence is constantly advancing and improving.
On that note, I would like to bring up the latest missile defence system, known as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defence System . I would like to point out its record. To date the Aegis system has been tested on sixteen occasions, and has been successful fourteen times. That is an 87.5% success rate. A vast improvement over previous systems, one can only assume that the future will hold equally impressive improvements, but for now, we will work with the 87.5%.
2) A missile defence system is not a deterrent.
I agree, opposing forces may still fire off missiles; but I think it is ridiculous to then postulate that the idea of a system with the capability to nullify missile attacks is not a daunting prospect to any would be attackers. The fact that their attack simply may not work is no doubt going to act as some sort of deterrent.
3) A missile defence system does not gain political leverage.
My opponent’s case for this is revolving around a contention the political leverage somehow equates to global stability. I would ask him to clarify, but in the meantime, I will proceed.
Political  obviously refers to anything related to the functions or structure of governments, politics or state. Leverage  is defined as a positional advantage. Political leverage in this case is therefore anything that places one nation in a positional advantage to another. My opponent’s contention is that should missile defence be deployed in Europe, political instability will occur; but he is ignoring the fact that the unrest would be due to the fact that America and its NATO allies would be gaining a huge tactical and subsequently political advantage over Russia and China.
Russia obviously doesn’t want missile defences in Poland, as it would subsequently be vulnerable to nuclear blackmail . But concerns such as political instability are irrelevant to the fact that the missile defence system would still act as political leverage.
4) A missile defence system does not provide a sense of security.
Obviously this is subjective based on the individual, but the military objective, and subsequently our discussion, is based on the masses.
Would the masses feel more secure if a) there existed a system designed to prevent them from a possible threat, or b) no such system exists.
Rebuttal to my opponent’s rebuttals.
1) My opponent’s first two paragraphs, asserting that there are better alternatives to stopping the missile attack.
I would wholeheartedly agree that the best way to stop a missile attack would be a pre-emptive strike, but we can both agree that the reality is that such an option will not always be feasible.
You then add that things like bomb shelters or early warning evacuation systems would be more effective. Bomb shelters are a good idea, and would no doubt exist regardless of the existence of a missile defence system, although it does have a fatal flaw, which it shares with an early warning evacuation system. That is, ICBM’s travel ridiculously fast. A standard ICBM travels at roughly 15,000 mph during its mid, sub-orbital phase . Allowing for the boost phase and rapid re-entry phase, we are looking at a roughly 35 minute flight time from complete opposite sides of the world. The fact is that such a launch site and target more than likely wouldn’t be on opposite sides of the earth; this cuts the time down even more. It could potentially get much, much worse if the missile was launched from a submarine off the coast. This is unlikely, but nevertheless possible. Such a situation would result in a reaction time of minutes.
The point I’m making is clear; reactionary measures that allow for the missile to reach its target are dramatically flawed, and could very easily, and indeed, almost certainly, result in a huge loss of life.
The only realistically positive outcome in the event of a missile attack is to destroy the missile mid-flight. My initial point stands; a missile defence system is the only option that would produce a favourable outcome.
2) My opponent claims I am using a false comparison in regards to North Korean tests and Great White Fleet.
My opponent has misinterpreted the point I am making. I am perfectly aware that the North Korean example was not that of a missile defence system or that the Great White Fleet was not a missile defence system. The point I made however, is that displays of military power, such as these and a missile defence system, cause intimidation, which can certainly be used to improve a countries position. The presence and acknowledgement of such capabilities certainly serves as a form of political leverage.
3) My opponents have criticized my appeal to the military’s of various countries.
Firstly, my opponent states that I claimed that said countries have ‘direct capability’ for missile defence, then claims that my source states the development of such systems for some nations. I would remind him that my original argument stated “or have the active desire to possess”. In short, I made no such claims.
I would agree that such a fact alone does not make an entire argument, but this was supplemented by my initial points and the ones I raised in this post.
And surely, the fact alone begs the question. If the militaries of the most powerful nations on earth see the merit in missile defence systems, surely that is some testimony to their effectiveness.
Concluding remarks, rebuttal to those of my opponent.
My opponent is simply advocating an all or nothing approach. Yes, the most effective way to stop a missile attack is to prevent it in the first place, but I think we can both agree that this is not realistically feasible in all scenarios.
As you outlined in previous points, your position is that, should your first plan of pre-emptive deterrence fail, you then resort to a reactionary measure that allows the missile to strike. Aside from any proposed methods being woefully unrealistic and ineffective, you ignore the fact that should a missile be fired, the next best thing would be to have the missile destroyed mid-flight. For that to occur, a missile defence system is undoubtedly required.
I have outlined how the technology is advancing in leaps and bounds, how the latest systems are remarkably accurate, and how the effectiveness of such a system can only increase. The destruction of inflight missiles is undeniably a desired military objective, and as a missile defence system is the only way to achieve said objective, one must therefore conclude that the concept is an effective military strategy.
Reaffirming my position
1) A missile defense system cannot safeguard an area.
My opponent concedes that the THAAD and Patriot systems are inaccurate but believes that this is an unimportant fact because to his mind it doesn't represent a "current missile defense technology". However, the THAAD and Patriot systems are actively being developed and have been for many years (1). And as I mentioned in round 2, developing and maintaining these technologies is extremely costly and have failed to provide the military will any battle-effective defense missiles.
To counter the aforementioned inaccuracies of these missile defense systems, my opponent focuses on the US Aegis system, stating that it has an "87% success rate". However, there has been much debate as to whether these success claims by the military are even accurate with this system (2). In addition, it has been made clear that to be an effective defense weapon on the battlefield the defensive missile must destroy the warhead (3). It has also been suggested that the SM-3 rocket of the Aegis system has relatively slow closing speed and doesn't supply the energy needed to destroy the warhead or the accuracy to hit it directly (4). Thus, the intercept tests described as a "success" many not represent effective kills.
Last, it should also be noted that the Aegis system is said to be in a low state of readiness, and the Naval expert A.D. Baker III has pointed out that one of the many shortfall of the Ageis is that …"money is going to missile development and procurement, not to maintenance of the detection and tracking system — without which the best missiles in the world won't be of much use"(5). So, the Aegis system example does not provide support for Con's contention that a missile defense system can achieve it's military objective.
2) A missile defense system is not a deterrent.
My opponent concedes that a missile defense system is not a deterrent and then attempts to minimize this point by suggesting that sending a missile to an area with a missile defense system is a "daunting prospect", without ever providing evidence to backup his claim. In round 3, however, I did present real world evidence that clearly demonstrates that missile defense systems will not deter a nation from launching missiles.
3) A missile defense system does not provide political leverage.
My opponent fails to acknowledge that a missile defense system creates an arms race with those superpowers threatened by such endeavors. As a consequence, he is unable to understand that there is no government advantage to creating friction with a nation state that possess the technology to develop more sophisticated missiles to defeat the missile defense system. Thus, the missile defense system can not be use as an advantage to help keep hostile nations from developing or attaining anti-missile defense technologies nor does it create incentives to decrease the likelihood of a missile attack.
My opponent also suggests that Russia doesn't want the US to deploy a missile defense system in Poland because of the threat of ‘nuclear blackmail', a claim that apparently comes from an unsubstantiated Wikipedia reference. What is more interesting here is that the same Wikipedia link states that nuclear blackmail is ineffective against a rational opponent who has nuclear weapons, which Russia clear is; thus, making my opponent's point moot.
One stated reason why Russia is against the deployment of a missile defense system in Europe is that is will undermine the Mutual Assured Destruction doctrine that helped to avoid a nuclear conflict during the Cold War (6). The fear for Moscow is that this missile defense system could prevent their second strike capabilities. So in their mind, they are forced to develop missiles to disable and prevent missile defense systems from being effective, escalating a dangerous arms race. And there is no political advantage to escalating tensions between two superpowers.
4) A missile defense system does not provide a sense of security.
My opponent appears to believe that spending billions upon billions of dollars over decades meets a military objective, because if may make the masses feel safe. So, the objective isn't to actually secure the populace from harm, but just make them perceive security. Thus, it seems that my opponent feels a missile defense system is an acceptable military strategy even if it makes that nation a paper tiger.
Last, my opponent tries to strengthen his position with the false dilemma logical fallacy (7), by suggesting there are only two options for making the masses feel more secure. From my perspective, what will make the masses feel more secure is if the threat of attack is diminished, and as I have argued, a missile defense system does not meet this military objective.
Weakness with Con's argument
My opponent's primary position is that a missile defense system is the only option with a favor outcome in the evident of an aggressive missile launch. However, I have shown that early warning systems and missile resistant shelter are also effective. But more importantly here is that Con never discusses how likely a missile attack even is. From a historical perspective, the only missiles that have made their way to the battlefield are short-range tactical missile like SCUD missiles (8), and as mention previously, missile defending against these attacks are very ineffective—a point my opponent concedes. Long-range and medium range missiles have never been used in modern warfare and are being developed as a means of protecting national security (9).
The other point my opponent raises is that many nations are developing these systems therefore it must be an effective strategy. This is an "argumentum ad populum" logical fallacy (10). Just because other nations are developing the technology doesn't make it an effective idea. There are many complex political and financial forces that are integrally involved in the decision to develop these defensive missiles systems.
In the final comments of round 3, my opponent misrepresents my position by stating that I am advocating an all or none approach. This is completely false. What I am arguing is that a missile defense system is an ineffective military strategy because it fails to meet the objectives of having such a system.
Throughout this debate I have provided evidence that the current missile defense technologies are highly fallible and have limited capabilities, not to mention that the systems are far from being battle-worthy. I have also provided evidence demonstrating that development of these systems is not cost-effective; a point my opponent has yet to address. Moreover, I have shown that a missile defense system only gives a false sense of security because it doesn't deter attacks and only adds to political tensions with other superpowers, generating a dangerous arms race. Collectively, these conditions clearly show that a missile defense system is an ineffective military strategy.
I thank my opponent for the debate, and wish him the best of luck in voting. I'll respond to this on a paragraph by paragraph basis, as that is what my opponent used to structure his points (they are labeled alphabetically).
Response to my opponent/reaffirming my own position.
1) A missile defence system cannot safeguard an area.
a) My opponent’s assertion that the apparent failings of the THAAD and Patriot systems are reflective of the concept in general is unfounded. We are not debating whether the United States missile defence system is an effective military strategy, or that of Russia, or that of China; we are debating the concept in general, as outlined by the use of ‘a missile defence system’ in the resolution.
b) As far as I can tell, my opponent’s response is hinging on the proposed inaccuracy and doubt cast upon the Aegis system by his fourth source (which I have put here ). The MDA specifically responded to various fallacies that were present in the report here . Specifically, contrary to my opponent’s third source, the MDA has affirmed that a direct hit on the warhead is not necessary for effective destruction. The doubts cast on the accuracy of the missile were also refuted; one of my opponent’s fourth sources  main points was a picture that was the supposed final frame taken by the missiles sensors, which indicated that the system would be incapable of adapting to any unforeseen circumstances. To quote the MDA’s response:
“…subsequent sensor views showed exactly where the interceptor collided with the target—within inches of the planned impact point…”
c) A reading of my opponent’s source  reveals that the proposed ineffectiveness of the Aegis system as outlined by the article is due to crew cuts and lack of training. In fact, the position of the article is not disputing the effectiveness of Aegis or missile defence in any way; it is simply criticizing the Navies approach to training and maintenance. In short, my opponent’s source does nothing to discredit the system; as his article strongly indicates that improved training and maintenance would render the Aegis system extremely effective.
2) A missile defence system is not a deterrent.
a) My opponent is misconstruing the definition of the word deterrent . He seems to be arguing that because a missile attack was launched against a missile defence system, said system in no way discourages said missile attack. That is ridiculous. I have outlined this in my previous points, but to put it even clearer: What would the would-be attacker prefer? To attack against a location defended by a missile defence system, or to attack one without. If he is hell-bent on attacking, obviously he will; but it is silly to construe from this that the presence of such a system is not a deterrent.
3) A missile defence system does not provide political leverage.
a) My opponent is looking too far into today’s political climate, as opposed to the original debate topic which is refers to a missile defence system in general. As I outlined previously; if one state has the capability to nullify missile attacks and one does not, the one without is at a distinct political disadvantage, as they must comply with the demands of the other state, or risk being attacked without the capability to similarly retaliate. The acquisition of such a distinct advantage is referred to as gaining political leverage. As a missile defence system involves the acquisition of such an advantage, it also involves the acquisition of political leverage.
b) My use of a Wikipedia reference in that context is perfectly fine, as it is an article outlining an extremely basic concept. Why does Russia not want missile defence systems in Poland? Because such systems would obviously put it at a military, and subsequently political, disadvantage. The use of the article merely outlined the concept that if one state has the capability to launch a nuclear missile at one state, and targeted state does not have the capability to retaliate, then targeted state is vulnerable to blackmail. My opponent also responded with the following comment:
“What is more interesting here is that the same Wikipedia link states that nuclear blackmail is ineffective against a rational opponent who has nuclear weapons, which Russia clear is; thus, making my opponent's point moot.”
This is quite ridiculous, as my opponent ignores the fact that should the missile defence system be implemented, Russia would lose its capability to launch effective nuclear attack in that area.
c) My opponent is ignoring the fundamental point of this debate, the resolution. It asks whether or not a missile defence system is an effective military strategy. My opponent’s defence is that the advantage of one state would cause an arm’s race, which is certainly possible. But to use that defence, one must concede that the arm’s race will occur because of the advantage that one state gained over another. My opponent has essentially inferred that because of the effectiveness of a missile defence system employed by one state, another state is in turn forced to counter its effectiveness or be left vulnerable.
4) A missile defence system does not provide a sense of security.
a) That is not my contention at all. I merely pointed out that, no matter what, the agreed upon objective of a sense of security for the masses is achieved regardless of the system’s effectiveness or not.
b) I have done no such thing. I simply asked a question; “Would the masses feel more secure if there existed a system designed to protect them from threats, or not.” If the answer is yes, as you seem to have conceded, then the military objective of providing a sense of security has been fulfilled.
My argument’s supposed weaknesses.
a) My opponent claims that “I have shown that early warning systems and missile resistant shelter are also effective”. That is a blatant lie. You link to the Wikipedia source for the bunkers, and mention an early warning system in passing. I outlined their ineffectiveness in my last post, under “Rebuttals to my opponent’s rebuttals, point one”, which you have conveniently ignored.
b) It is not a fallacy, as I have not rested my argument directly on this fact, nor presented it in a manner such as you describe. I merely pointed out the fact that, on top of everything else I have said, the undeniable experts in this field (the military) all agree with my position that missile defence systems are an effective military strategy.
Response to my opponents concluding comments.
a) I have not misrepresented your position in any way, as it is a perfectly valid dichotomy. If missile defence systems are not in place, there is no way to stop a launched missile. You have not contested this point, and as such (given your position), you are advocating the all or nothing approach of preventing launches in the first place.
b) I feel I have adequately addressed all points you put forward, except cost-effectiveness. Simply put, it is a question which cannot be adequately addressed from either side without putting a price on human life. Since that is such an undefined concept, I don’t think it would be possible to accurately debate either side without a prior debate on whether it is possible to price human life, and if so, how much?
My arguments and responses speak for themselves. I have demonstrated the strength of my own arguments, as well as the inherent flaws in those of my opponent. Although I feel the outcome is clear, good luck to my opponent all the same.
Sources. Not that many this time, but then again, a fair portion of this round was spent pointing out the flaws in my opponents own use of sources.