Missile Defense System Debate

History and Debate of Missile Defense System

As a generic term, the phrase national missile defense refers to a type of military strategy and its related systems by which an entire nation is shielded against incoming missiles. The incoming missiles are usually either short range ballistic missiles or long range Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Furthermore, the national missile defense system is designed to intercept the missiles at any time between their launch through their flight and even into their actual atmospheric descent. Anti-ballistic missiles or lasers are both capable of intercepting missiles.

With respect to the United States, the phrase national missile defense refers to the comprehensive nationwide antimissile program that the United States has spent time developing since the 1990s (not just to refer to the interceptors and related facilities). Designed to utilize interceptor missiles launched from Alaska to intercept a limited number of nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles in the mid-course phase, the United States national missile defense system was renamed in 2002 to the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system. This system has been operational with limited capability since 2006.

In the 1980s, the United States national missile defense system was promoted as a means by which the threat of nuclear war ceased to exist for the United States and its allies as well as the Soviet Union. As it was planned, the system was designed to be very complex andexpensive as well as technologically sophisticated. Despite its grandiose objectives, detractors were skeptical of both the feasibility of the program and its strategic wisdom.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, however, the system and its objectives became more modest in scope. During the late 20th century and early 21st century, the stated goal of the United States national missile defense system was revised to now prevent the United States from the threat by a rogue state in which it will then resort to the use of nuclear missiles. Even the practicability of this more modest objective, however, is controversial. Therefore, the system has received little funding from the United States Congress.

Missile Defense Debate Controversy

Much of the controversy of the United States national missile defense system relates to its feasibility. Many detractors contend that any nation that is capable of effectively launching missiles against the United States is also capable of deflecting interceptor devices. These kinds of effective countermeasures would have the effect of rendering the national missile defense system ineffectual.

Recent discussions about the United States national missile defense system have focused less on the feasibility of the system and its objectives and more on where the United States should locate its strategic missile defense sites. In the early part of the 21st century, the United States announced its plans to locate missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland. Russia responded to that plan by announcing that, if Poland accepted the missile defense sites within its borders, Poland would be opening itself up to the potential of nuclear attack. In 2009, President Obama announced that the United States had decided not to locate missile defense sites in Eastern Europe, but instead to place the systems on United States Navy warships. The Russian government welcomed the American plans to station warships carrying missile defense systems in the Black Sea.

For Missile Defense System

Pro
73% of members
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Against Missile Defense System

Con
27% of members
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