He who controls space,
controls the world.
`In the long term, BMD is about one thing: space.'
~ STRATFOR (18 Jun 2007)
The Wrong Debate Over Missile Defense
May 14, 2001 | 0500 GMT
By George Friedman
The Bush administration's recent announcement that it plans to accelerate the development of
both national and theater missile defenses has ignited both sides of a 30-year-old debate.
But this time supporters and opponents of the plan are arguing points that are no longer relevant.
And they are missing the most salient point: The key issue is no longer stability between opposing
nuclear arsenals but the growing vulnerability of satellite communications and sensor systems to
It's about space, stupid.
The United States fully depends on space for intelligence and communications capabilities as well
as for wider civilian communications. Those assets are very vulnerable.
The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is not nearly as important as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty,
signed by the United States and the Soviet Union, that bans the deployment or use of weapons of
mass destruction in Earth's orbit or deep space.
Meanwhile, the wrong issue is being debated. Both sides are ignoring profound new realities. They
remain obsessed with the standoff between masses of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with
nuclear warheads, but the potential from such a standoff, for all practical reasons, ended nearly a
The roots of the missile defense debate lie in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the Soviets,
who had fallen far behind the United States in quantities of strategic nuclear weapons, undertook a
massive buildup. By the early 1970s, they had achieved numerical parity with the United States.
Once both sides had reached numerical parity, the U.S.-Soviet relationship turned toward
maintaining the nuclear balance and the presumed international stability it would reinforce.
The dominant theory became strategic deterrence, the doctrine, Mutually Assu