|FROM ADVERSARIES TO ALLIES|
The summit between President Bush and President Putin represents a significant milestone in U.S.-Russian relations. Is this change a result of the Sept. 11 attacks and the war against terrorism? What is at stake in a friendly alliance between former adversaries?
from Morriston, FL asks:
Why can't the U.S. just share technology with Russia so they can have a missile defense shield? The U.S. and Russia have joint initiatives through space programs, why not missile defense experiments?
Russia would prefer to preserve the ABM treaty as is. However, if the U.S. is determined to test and develop missile defense (as it appears to be), the Putin leadership has an incentive to negotiate a revision or replacement to the treaty in order to achieve some measure of predictability, stability and transparency in the nuclear relationship with the U.S.
It will be easier for Russia to plan over 10 to 20 years for its conventional and nuclear forces if it has a good, reliable idea of what U.S. capabilities will look like over that period. Russia is more likely to achieve that clarity if the U.S. and Russia remain engaged in nuclear offensive and defensive arms control.
As part of a compromise on revising the ABM Treaty, it is very likely that there will be some cooperation on missile defense technologies, as well as shared early warning of missile threats. Sharing these technologies is problematic, however, because it means that in theory Russia would be in a position to sell or give countermeasures against U.S. defenses to countries such as China or Iraq. This has been a real problem limiting cooperation.
However, after Sept. 11 the amount and depth of intelligence sharing has been very substantial and has created the possibility of further deep security cooperation even in very sensitive matters that previously would have been impossible.
Russia does not have an incentive to dissolve the ABM Treaty unless it were to be replaced by some other formal agreement and it would clearly be Russia's preference to work jointly with the U.S. in the development of a missile defense system. Variations of some of the issues you have raised have been under discussion in both the U.S. And Russia and some kind of joint
I think you are on a right track. We should negotiate with Russia on terminating the obsolete 1972 ABM Treaty, which was signed with a country that no longer exists, the USSR. Russian Soviet-vintage political elite believes that the ABM Treaty is one of the crown jewels left from the Cold War. But in fact it was the USSR which first developed and deployed ballistic missile defenses. That 1960's system, with some upgrades, is still active around Moscow.
If Russia agrees to the termination of the Treaty, the U.S. can and should be able to offer, as a compensation, financing to employ the best and the brightest in the Russian military-industrial complex, especially their excellent theoretical physicists and engineers, to work together on a missile shield. In fact, Ronald Reagan, the first U.S. president to support BMD, dreamt about having technology shared with the Russians. This would be a major breakthrough in post-Cold War thinking...
Yes, the ballistic missile threat is from the "rogue" states. But we have to consider worst-case scenarios, such as China trying to boost its attack missile force aimed at the U.S., or the Pakistani nukes falling in the hands of al-Qaida-like fundamentalists. In fact, some Pakistani nuclear scientists apparently worked with bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) aimed at the U.S.
Saddam Hussein and Iranian mullahs also are developing ballistic missiles tipped with WMD, and it would be only a question of time until such weapons would be deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles which we are incapable of shooting down today.