• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Russian Control of U.S. Missile Defenses? Just Say No.

    According to The Telegraph of London on April 8, Russia is demanding direct operational control of U.S. and allied missile defense systems in negotiations regarding missile defense cooperation.

    While the U.S. is right to be seeking Russian cooperation in the area of missile defense—more defensive strategic postures would benefit both the U.S. and Russia in addressing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the missiles used to deliver them—the U.S. should reject this Russian demand.

    The Russian demand defies rational explanation. The missile defense system will serve only one purpose: to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles already launched at a target. In this context, the Russians cannot believe that U.S. and allied operation of a missile defense system will pose a threat to them unless they think they need to threaten both with a nuclear-armed missile attack. If this is the basis of Russian thinking, then this negotiation is about anything but cooperation. Genuine cooperation in the realm of missile defense is not about the possession of capabilities by the U.S., U.S. allies, or Russia; it is about all three parties standing together in the intention to oppose aggression through the use of ballistic missiles by rogue states.

    The Russians can be motivated only by either of two desires in demanding direct operational control. The first is to deny the U.S. and its allies the ability to operate a missile defense system for their own protection. The second is for the Russians to operate the system only for their own benefit, effectively expecting the U.S. and its allies to build a missile defense system and turn it over to Russia. Either way, the demand will leave the U.S. and its allies vulnerable to missile attack. Interestingly, there is no evidence that the Russians have made an offer to the U.S. and its allies in these negotiations to allow them operational control over the Russian missile defense system deployed around Moscow.

    Fortunately, there is another option for genuine cooperation in the field of missile defense between the U.S. and its allies on the one side and the Russians on the other: to pursue coordinated deployments of missile defense systems to address shared threats. This approach permits each to control the missile defenses in their possession to meet their security needs while also providing all the opportunity for cooperation even where there may be differences of opinion of what constitutes a genuine threat.

    The coordinated deployment option would also deny Russia the ability to assert that missile defenses are inherently destabilizing no matter which country possesses a missile defense capability. Russia made just such an assertion by insisting on the inclusion of anti-missile defense language in the preamble to the New START arms control treaty with the U.S., which has just entered into force. Russia, by acknowledging that it has a missile defense capability of its own in the contribution to coordinated deployments for countering shared threats, will no longer be able to assert that missile defenses are destabilizing under all circumstances.

    In the course of negotiations on missile defense cooperation, the U.S. and its allies should not buckle to the Russian demand for operational control. If they do, the agreement will only serve to perpetuate U.S. and allied vulnerability to missile attack. In this case, what was supposed to be a negotiation about cooperating in the field of missile defense will become a negotiation over cooperation in restricting missile defense. It will be an agreement that will not serve U.S. or allied interests.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Russian Control of U.S. Missile Defenses? Just Say No.

    1. George Colgrove VA says:

      Why not give the Russians control of our defenses, we seem to have given control of our country to the socialists within the RINOs, the Democrats and who ever. We have a signed sealed and delivered budget that essentially guarantees we will be near $16 trillion by beginning of FY12.

      We are headed for a train wreck no matter what we do. DC has no resolve to fix this nation's woes. Does it really matter if Russia controls our defense? THe federal workforce seems dead set on ruining this country anyway.

      In fact handing over the country to Russia will likely be far worse for them then blanket nuking them.

    2. Clark, DC says:

      While I agree with your stance that it is illogical to build a defense system and then hand it to someone else for operations, I believe that deployed missile defense systems to be used in anticipation of a rogue threat is itself an expensive side show and should not be used as a sticking point for international diplomacy. The road from dubious missile launch threat to an actual launch is long, windy, and with many exits we can force the rogue state to take before relying on a screen of missile defense. In other words, if a launch occurs that necessitates a defense system, then we've already failed. An expensive defense system embodies the paradox of proactive procrastination. Police work leveraged to the regional and timely activities of rogue states can be more effective, less costly, and less controversial. While police work will not give a blanket guarantee that if a missile goes up, we will shoot it down, the defense system procrastinates in that it does not take into account anything about the possible threat. All it is concerned with is its technical ability to destroy an incoming missile. To guarantee that, the system itself must be ambitious.

    3. West Texan says:

      Not surprising from an authoritative regime. Trust no one. All power is with them. If the Russians need a pacifier, I say say give them a dummy switch. Sort of like that one in the office supply commercial.

    4. Qiang, Baltimore says:

      See…we are the richest country next to United Arab Emirates…

      This list shows military expenditures per capita in US dollars by country.[1][2]

      Country Year USD

      United Arab Emirates 2009 2,653

      United States 2009 2,141

      Israel 2009 1,882

      Singapore 2008 1,593

      Saudi Arabia 2009 1,524

      Kuwait 2009 1,289

      Norway 2009 1,245

      Greece 2009 1,230

      France 2009 977

      United Kingdom 2009 940

      Bahrain 2009 911.5

      Australia 2009 893

      Brunei 2009 866

      Luxembourg 2009 809

      Denmark 2009 804

      Netherlands 2009 759

      Finland 2009 702

      Sweden 2009 657

      Italy 2009 593

      Canada 2009 560

      Switzerland 2009 526

      Germany 2009 558

      Belgium 2009 525

      South Korea 2009 493

      Russia 2009 430

      Japan 2009 401

      Spain 2009 398

      Poland 2009 285

      Turkey 2009 244

      Georgia 2009 151

      Brazil 2009 142

      South Africa 2009 78.7

      China 2009 74.7

      Argentina 2009 65

      Mexico 2009 48.9

      India 2009 30.7

      Pakistan 2009 28.3

    5. Pingback: Russian control of U.S Missile Defense? « SHAWSBLOG

    6. Roger S., Mass. says:

      This outrageous demand speaks for itself, in that there are two more reasons for it, not mentioned by Baker Spring:

      The first is to disguise one's own weakness, sort of like a school-yard bully who is loud and aggressive, but quickly (and often permanently) silenced by the first of his "marks" who (surprisingly) says "No", then "pops him on the nose" if he fails to take a "No".

      The second is a corollary to the first, part of the "bullying process" whereby the little brat tries to bring himself into a superior negotiating position asking for way more than he is willing to accept with the latent thought that maybe his "mark" is really weak and he could get lucky and obtain all just for having been sufficiently brash!

      Taken together with the above "bullying paradigm", last year's shameful signing and ratification of the latest START treaty is the real reason why we are now being confronted with this even more outrageous demand.

      Should we be surprised? Not at all. Once a bully, always a bully! That is, after all, how Putin and Co. have lived their whole political lives. They will continue until someone steps up to them with a firm, non-negotiable, "No"! Is the current

      stand-in for a Commander in Chief likely to be such a person? To be doubted!

    7. West Texan says:

      Qiang, I don't know the source of your copied list, but a closer look will show the US supplementing and/or supporting the military needs for many of the countries mentioned. This saves those particular countries billions in defense expenditures.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×