Argument: European missile defense would foster stability, not instability

Issue Report: European missile defense


Sally McNamara, Baker Spring and Peter Brookes. “Missile Defense: Debunking Arguments Against the Third Site in Eastern Europe”. Heritage Foundation. November 6, 2007 – Myth #4: Missile defense is destabilizing.

If anything, the opposite is true. Defensive weapons systems such as missile defense have a stabilizing effect on the security environment, as opposed to offensive weapons, which research has shown can be destabilizing. As a defensive capability, U.S. missile defense plans for Europe will act as a deterrent to rogue nations and non-state actors from acquiring ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

There will be less motivation for ballistic missile capability if Europe has the ability to defend against it. To make America and its allies deliberately vulnerable to attack is not only nonsensical, it is likely to incur further proliferation. As President Bush stated, “Missile defense is a vital tool for our security, it’s a vital tool for deterrence and it’s a vital tool for counterproliferation.”[8]

However, the failure of third site negotiations would embolden those in Russia who believe that the United States is negotiating from a position of diplomatic and military weakness. Putin would claim–with some credibility–to have scored a diplomatic victory over the United States. Failure would also increase Russian boldness in intimidating former satellite states, adding to instability in Eastern Europe.