Missile Wars
homethe threatthe technologythe strategydiscussion
join the discussion
photo of a radarphoto of a radarphoto of a radar
In a post-Sept. 11 world, what role should missile defense play in America's national security?


Dear FRONTLINE,

It seems clear that this missile defense program is not about defense, but about money. Billions go to companies like Lockheed and Boeing, and then they pass it back in the way of campaign contributions to the Republicans. When you think what those billions could do for real defense against real threats or for real problems like subsidizing health care and prescription drugs and nursing home care, it is truly shameful. I am most galled by the holier than thou attitude the Congressional Republicans take while not doing the job they were elected to do.

winter springs, florida


Dear FRONTLINE,

Excellent show. However, it ignored the connections between missle defense contractors and campaign contributions to the presidential compaigns and to key members of Congress. You also didn't touch on the revolving door between defense contractors, the Pentagon, and Presidential advisors. I strongly suspect that this missle defense policy thrust has a lot to do with who gets contracts for that $64 billion and what they provide to politicians who look favorably on those lucrative contracts.

Peter MacDowell
chapel hill, nc


Dear FRONTLINE,

It is amazing to me that the American Public does not know this story. Thank you for telling it with interviews from both sides.

It is time to move to the South Pacific, I do not like the road this country is going down. Do they rent apartments on that little island where they shoot the rigged misiles from?

John Paul Summerskill
ithaca, new york


Dear FRONTLINE,

Why would a dictator who has spent his life trying to stay alive and well and in control of his country send a tracable object hurling towards the USA assuring his own demise in a rain of ICBM's launched from our shores? If said dictator was irrational enough to commit public suicide he likely would have done so in some other way before he ever rose to power. Every dollar spent on this "hi-tech maginot line" is a dollar NOT spent on military strategies to protect us from plausable threats.

David Schulthise
philadelphia, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

Given that no rogue state has the ability to actually deliver a nuclear weapon via missile, but that we are tragically vulnerable to other terrorist threats, missile defense should be downgraded to basic research about the future potentialities of technology, but there should be no attempt at any actual development or deployment.

John Strom
washington, dc


Dear FRONTLINE,

Since we have not chosen the obvious solution, total world domination followed by forced democracy and education, we must instead continue to pursue technological defensive solutions. True, much money is wasted, but the small kernels of progress may save American lives within ten years, and are necessary to ensure our survival in the 20-30 year time frame, when many countries will have nuclear missile capability, and will be able to blackmail us, or simply terrorize us with multimillion death terror bombings.

ep epep
amarillo, texas


Dear FRONTLINE,

The USA has given Israel more than a billion dollars for the development of the Arrow I and Arrow II antimissile missiles. These are capable of traveling more than 4200 mph and have been successful in destroying incoming missiles. DOES THE USA HAVE THESE MISSILES FOR OUR USE IN DESTROYING INCOMING MISSILES? If not, why not?

ocala, florida


Dear FRONTLINE,

Missiles and "the facts" are two things that just don't go together. The goofy reality is this: IF an entity, be it Iraq, Al queda, whatever, MIGHT have an inter-continental rocket and they MIGHT have a nuclear weapon and it MIGHT be able to travel on the rocket, THAT is as good as having it. Similarly, if the United States has a missile defense shield that is PURPORTED to work, THAT is as good as having it.

Missile defense, like quantum physics, is really more about spin than anything else.

Steve Benz
austin, tx


Dear FRONTLINE,

Ballistic Missle Defense is wonderful...at eating through billions of dollars, funding the most "pie in the sky" projects and keeping certain military oriented firms in business. However, it does NOTHING for defense. Lets use GW's 8 billion NMD allocation for 4 more B2 bombers. They are frightfully over-priced, but at least they actually work.

James Roeller
w. st. paul, mn


Dear FRONTLINE,

Perhaps a case could be made for missle defense against an adversary such as the former soviet union which had the capability for massive offense. But in the present world situation it seems utterly ridiculous. A "rogue state" which launched a missle against the US would face utter annihilation in return. What would be the point? The hundreds of billions of dollars needed to develop such a system could be spent on economic development, education and allieviating poverty on a global scale. But these do not supply profits to weapons building corporations.

It seems that those currently in power in our country have a high quotient of personal and social aggressiveness but very little idea what to do with it, except to further the aims of those who would continue to define and control the geo-political game for their own benefit.

michael medeiros
ny, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

It's so obvious that even the long-held Washington dream of global dictatorship, of which a missile shield and its offensive side uses (never mentioned in this hour) would be keystone, takes second place to the goal of further fattening the pockets of the likes of Bush, Clinton, Cheney, and Rumsfeld with the last tatters of wealth held by the beleagoured American people while totally disregarding the serious threats posed to those people from the anger engendered by international terrorism committed in their name by the likes of Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Nixon, and the lever-pullers like Rockefeller ... I really wonder what it'll take before the American People wake up and take back their country.

Look at this hour and *think*, people. Rumsfeld cut the success criteria down to a point only the amount of money it'll cost you matters - the more the better. No actual improvement in kills is required - just keep spending money on it until you've no money left. Or it works, which is a laugh - at the same time neglecting the threat from 10000 cargo containers a day.

The case for regime change at home could hardly be made more clear than it is in this hour.

hume smith
chester, nova scotia


Dear FRONTLINE,

Trace the money! Who benefits from all the expense of the so-called Missile War technology? It would seem to me that with the enormous cost of this "fantasy" that if we trace who is making the most money off of this exercise it will become pretty clear why this Administration and previous Republican administrations are so much in favor of pushing it down the American public throat. See if there is any relationship between those who want this and their level of contributions to a particular political party

Paul Tefft
fargo, nd


home · the threat · the technology · the strategy · introduction · map
timeline · producer's chat · interviews · quiz: missile test · discussion
tapes & transcripts · press reaction · credits · privacy policy
FRONTLINE home · wgbh · pbsi

photograph © 1996 CORBIS; original image courtesy of NASA/CORBIS
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

Losing IraqJuly 29th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS