Bush, Missile Defense, and the Atlantic Alliance

Philip H. Gordon
Philip H. Gordon Former Brookings Expert, Mary and David Boies Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy - Council on Foreign Relations

February 1, 2001

To the consternation of many Europeans, US President George W. Bush has made clear that he intends to deploy a national missile defence (NMD) as soon as possible. Whereas Bush sees NMD deployment as indispensable in a world of proliferating weapons of mass destruction, Europeans worry that it will spur an arms race with Russia and China; decouple Europe from the US; and waste scarce resources on technologies that may never work against a threat that may not exist. Narrowing this gap is critical, however, because the US needs European support—in the form of radar sites and diplomatic cooperation—if the NMD project is to succeed. As it moves forward, the Bush administration should make clear that NMD is not directed at Russia or China; make good-faith efforts to modify the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; not rush into deployment; and stand ready to provide missile defence coverage for Europe as well.