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As the Pentagon prepared to launch a target missile from Alaska and an interceptor from California this week, defence contractors and Pentagon officials were insisting that the goal was not to shoot anything down, just to make sure the “kill vehicle” could find what it was looking for. No matter how that turns out, we’re hoping that Rumsfeld’s sudden candor about the program starts to catch on.’ 18 At the same time, several articles elaborate that most of the governments examined regard the traditional concept of nuclear deterrence (as we have known it from the Cold War) as 18 ‘The Missile Defense Mirage’, editorial of ‘The New York Times’/‘International Herald Tribune’, in: International Herald Tribune, 1 September 2006.
no longer sufficient. Therefore, in strategic thinking, MD has assumed the role of enhancing deterrence by complementing it and thereby providing synergetic effects. The frictions of traditional deterrence which have led to the dominant ‘enhancement paradigm’ were already evolving before 11 September but they have been endorsed by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The major assumption of conventional deterrence theory that one would have to cope with rational, i.e. deterrable actors regarding the use of WMD at the state and the sub-state level is fundamentally doubted by all supporters of the three continental, regional and point defence variants of MD.
What does this mean for MD? There have been efforts in the United States and in Russia to translate the issue beyond rhetoric into doctrines and organisational changes. But these efforts are limited – and they show that MD is the actual loser. Even the United States as the unprecedented motor, initiator, and promoter of all variants of MD has not lived up to its original promise. This is best and authoritatively reflected in the Pentagon’s spring 2005 draft of its ‘Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations’ which incorporates the Nuclear Posture Review and other important directives. This new doctrine describes MD as an instrument to protect military troops only. It mentions defence of the population only three times and always in a secondary role after protection of military forces.
This reversal of priorities stands in contrast with President Bush’s former policy when he announced the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in December 2001, emphasising that defending the American people was his ‘highest priority as commander in chief’, and that ‘I cannot and will not allow the United States to remain in a treaty that prevents us from developing effective defenses’. 19 One objective of protecting military forces is to enhance US offensive nuclear strike capabilities. The new doctrine reaffirms an aggressive nuclear posture of modernised atomic weapons maintained on high alert. Planning for regional nuclear-strikes is seen by some observers as an ‘increasingly expeditionary aura that threatens to make nuclear weapons just another tool in the toolbox. The result is nuclear pre-emption, which the new doctrine enshrines into official U.S. joint nuclear doctrine for the first time […]’. 20 Kassianova mentions the efforts of Russia to modernise its own MD (triggered by the role of air and space threats in the military interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq), and to translate this increased military importance into doctrinal and organisational changes. Defences could be combined with space activities in an Aerospace Defence concept. The strategic developments in France sound like an echo of the normally criticised American hegemon, as far as nuclear developments are concerned. Traditional nuclear deterrence is not considered to be sufficient any more. The 9/11 attacks against the United States had a major impact on French thinking about security, as Kempin/Mawdsley summarise. In the future, France, like the US, wants to be able to oppose proliferation threats and the potential use of WMD with preventive military actions. What is more, France has left open the
possibility of building ‘mini-nukes’. Again, here is the major dynamic which does not exQuoted in Hans M. Kristensen, The Role of U.S. Nuclear Weapons: New Doctrine Falls Short of Bush Pledge, in:
Arms Control Today, Vol. 35, No. 7 (September 2005), p. 18.
20 Ibid, p. 13; see also p. 18. The major strategy papers of the Bush administration of early 2006 reaffirm by and large the secondary importance of MD. See U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report, Washington, D.C., 6 February 2006; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction, Washington, D.C., 13 February 2006; The President of the United States of America, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 13 March 2006. For an informative analysis, see Jan Helmig, Quadrennial Defense Review Report. Ein Überblick über das amerikanische Strategiepapier und seine Bedeutung für die Raketenabwehr, Bulletin No. 54, Ballistic Missile Defense Research International, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, available at: http://www.hsfk.de/abm/bulletin/pdfs/helmig.pdf.
clude the previously mentioned warming up to a firm and yet limited role of theatre MDs to meet the new challenges of the new security environment.
From the perspective of the British nuclear power, which takes an active role in the American umbrella, the role of MDs above the TMD level has been and remains limited, too – a sobering result from a supporter’s point of view. As Smith summarises, it seems that Britain has strong faith in its strategic and sub-strategic nuclear capability over expensive and thus far unproven MD systems. But support even for TMD systems in the United Kingdom is to be contingent on the assumption that those weapons can be relied upon not to shoot at British aircraft, as happened during the last Iraq war. Among the nonnuclear countries South Korea – the state closest to the North Korean missile arsenal – is the most astounding democracy in this respect. Seoul bases its military policy solely on its conventional deterrence capability, as Byung-joon Ahn reports in his article. An indigenous MD capability is considered to be an option only. The governments in Seoul have been very reluctant to initiate South Korean-American MD co-operation. Therefore, they have not followed Tokyo’s bilateral collaboration model.
As to the second yardstick for the entrenchment of the MD idea, namely the relationship between defence and diplomacy, there is a virtual consensus that diplomatic measures are no longer sufficient as anti-proliferation tools and that they need to be complemented by (tactical) MD – and yet, they continue to be important for many democracies. As several analyses of this project reveal, all governments have reassessed the importance of their diplomatic instruments, either as part of their (bilateral) foreign policies with problem states or as an element of their activities in multinational regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Hague Code of Conduct against the Proliferation of Ballistic Missiles, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 21 The comparative picture lists the United States, Israel and India as the countries with the greatest mistrust in diplomacy. By contrast, the traditional multilateralist-minded civilian/trading powers such as Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands can be found at the other end of the spectrum.
On the basis of this collection of articles, it is not always easy to differentiate between mere well-sounding lip-service and serious engagement in diplomacy. In the case of Germany the frictions between ‘text book’ positions and the reality became evident. Above all, Japan and Russia have emphasised the importance of non-military means to tackle the proliferation problem. And Japan’s policy shows the conceptual coexistence of diplomacy and defences: When Chinese and North Korean WMD-tipped missiles are perceived as a direct threat, it seems, as Ishikawa remarks, that diplomatic non-proliferation measures are hardly believed to be a substitute for BMD. This is not to say, the author goes on, that Japan has made no diplomatic efforts to curtail or restrict the missile capabilities of those two non-democracies.
Despite these trends and examples, the continuing importance of diplomacy is underlined by the already mentioned successful US-British policy towards Libya. And maybe the coordinated efforts especially of France, Britain, and Germany to convince Iran to embark on a clear policy of not developing the nuclear bomb will in the end turn out to be another proof of the relevance of diplomacy.
21 See Mark Smith, Preparing the Ground for Modest Steps: A Progress Report on the Hague Code of Conduct, in:
Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 73 (August-September 2003), available at: http://www.acronym.org.uk/dd/dd72/ 72op4.htm.; id., Assessing Missile Non-Proliferation, in: Gustav Lindstrom and Burkard Schmitt (eds), Fighting Proliferation: European Perspectives (Paris: EU Institute for Security Studies, 2004), available at: http://www.iss-eu.org/ chaillot/chai/66e.pdf.
2.5 There Was Hardly a Broad MD Debate in Most Democracies (With No Difference to Russia) 2.5.1 Preliminary Remarks – Normative Assumptions The presentation of this finding starts from the following normative premises: The introduction of weapons systems with a potentially considerable impact are to be broadly discussed in order to be legitimised by the demos; the decision-making process should be transparent, with the institutions properly exercising their constitutionally granted tasks − the parliaments in particular should control the executive and the military; the decisionmakers are to be held accountable for their position or voting behaviour; and the final result should reflect the overwhelming attitude or mood of the public.
If regime type is important for the issue of debate, then the difference between the strong traditional democracies and Russia, should be visible. We shall see, whether the scope and intensity of the debates are different in a (semi-)presidential, parliamentarian, majoritarian, and consociational democracy. In all these cases the eight dimensions of the entire MD policy field become again relevant for the individual democracies. The analytical insights into the domestic settings reveal a variety of sub-structures and political/strategic cultures, featuring in many cases a strong executive branch, a hardly controlling parliament, as well as a congruence of public opinion and government policies in three cases.
2.5.2 No Broad Discourse Across the Board – Limited Participation of the Public
In virtually all contributions there is a consensus that in the time-span covered, the various aspects of the MD issue did not lead to intense, nationwide debates including the mobilisation of people. In the late 1960s this had been the case in the United States when the ‘No Bombs in the Backyard’ movement protested against the deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in their vicinity for fear that they might become the target of incoming rockets from the Soviet Union or China. Jørgen Dragsdahl for instance presents the opposite situation for Denmark and Greenland: Popular opposition did not manifest itself in the form of demonstrations, meetings or even letters in newspapers.
The same holds true for the Netherlands where the debate has remained primarily an elite and expert affair. Political parties or other societal groups, let alone the public at large, were not very active in this area. The lack of controversy and public debate is reflected by the absence of any opinion poll. This description by Everts of The Netherlands is exemplary for many other democracies analysed in this project. Kempin/Mawdsley provide a variation on the theme and maybe go one step further regarding France, by asking whether in fact ‘debate’ is the correct word. The limited and concentrated character of the discussions holds also true for the new democracies of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as well as for Russia.
An easy answer to the general phenomenon of the limited scope and low intensity of the discourse could be: The MD topic was simply not relevant enough. But such an answer would be incomplete, analytically not adequate and actually misleading, as this broad phenomenon is due to a number of different factors which reveal the specifics of the individual case studies.
2.5.3 Hurdles For MD Debates – Structural and Situational Ones
There is a consensus in all contributions which address the topic of discussion that the technical nature and the secrecy aspect combined are a considerable obstacle for debating the MD issue (in this regard, MD reflects in particular what applies to the entire area of military security in general). Being an old or a new democracy such as Poland does not make a difference, as Rafał Domisiewicz/Sławomir Kamiński mention, although they cite specific structural/cultural factors that have to do with the fact of being a new democracy.
They argue it needs time to develop a political culture of discussing security issues such as MD.
The situation of a limited debate in the old or new democracies is not different from what Kassianova says about the specific structural/cultural factors in Russia with its ‘uneven democratisation process’ where the policy process is ‘largely developing autonomously’ of the existing public discussion, and even of expert analysis. Neither can the absence of a minimally transparent decision-making process on defence and security be ignored, nor the general weakness of the mechanisms of public control. Nevertheless, the liveliest though narrowest (mostly technical and professional) grassroots debate in Russia has been taking place on the internet, ‘the all-powerful samizdat of the 21st century’. This phenomenon may be best explained by the influence of the past which has created a large number of industrial, scientific and bureaucratic actors with their vested interests.
Another structural hurdle to a broad public debate is systemic, i.e. democracy-related (regime type), but here again the specifics of MD as part of the broader realm of security come into play. In their case study on France, Kempin/Mawdsley argue that the largely unnoticed MD discourse is due to the fact that security policy is seen as a presidential domain as part of a densely knit security community; this structure dirigiste means that parliamentary involvement is minimal and not seen as particularly influential.