Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Why liberals oppose missile defense 

Over at Silent Running, comments poster Michael Lonie wonders why
for some reason liberals have been rabidly against protecting the country against nuclear missiles ever since the question came up decades ago.

Here's my answer. Liberals are not against missile defense because they want to get nuked. We're against it because A. it's extremely expensive and hasn't been proved to be feasible; and more importantly, B. if it worked, missile defense would be wildly destabilizing. Nuclear deterrence would not work anymore. Russia and China would race to put up missile defenses of their own and develop new missiles that could crack our defenses. Because we would trigger new weapons programs in Russia and China, missile defense would not guarantee our safety; we would need to develop a new, improved missile defense to protect against their new weapons, plus new weapons that could get through their shields. And so on.

There's a reason the ABM treaty banned defensive missiles. It's because defensive ability is far more destabilizing than offensive ability when it comes to nuclear deterrence. And the above scenario is only the beginning. A newly armed Russia and China would deeply alarm our allies, Britain and France, who would need missile shields of their own. And guess who would end up footing a large part of the bill for a missile shield over Western Europe? That's right, us. Meanwhile, Japan would have to go nuclear to defend itself from the new threat in China. Maybe Korea, too. And God only knows what India and Pakistan would be doing! There's no end in sight. Successful missile defense would trigger a massive worldwide arms race. Not too reassuring, is it?
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