Missile Wars
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the proponents
paul wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz is deputy secretary of defense in President George W. Bush's administration and is the former dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He also served as undersecretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Here, he talks about the strategic rationale for missile defense, about the need to counter emerging threats, and about the Bush administration's decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty.


Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish has been the director of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) since June 1999. Here, he talks about the many obstacles that his agency has overcome and those that still remain, and why he's increasingly confident about the prospects for a defense against long-range missiles. Kadish also responds to criticism that the MDA has become unnecessarily secretive in recent months.


Newt Gingrich, a Republican from Georgia, was the speaker of the House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999, and is currently a member of the Defense Policy Board, an influential group of advisers to the Pentagon. In this interview he tells FRONTLINE that he believes the 1995 National Intelligence Estimate was politically tainted, and that the ballistic missile threat to the U.S. is real and growing. He also says that he doesn't understand why missile defense has become a political issue.


Richard Perle is chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential group of advisers to the Pentagon. He served in the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1987 as assistant secretary of defense. He tells FRONTLINE that the end of the Cold War has made arguments against missile defense obsolete, and that the United States' status as sole superpower gives it unique rights and responsibilities. He also believes that the missile threat to the U.S. is real -- and growing -- and that the technological obstacles to an effective missile defense are surmountable.

The Critics

Retired Air Force Gen. Eugene Habiger served as commander of U.S. strategic nuclear forces from 1996 to 1998. He tells FRONTLINE that he and others in the military consider the long-range ballistic-missile threat a low priority, and that he would prefer to see more resources directed to countering the much greater threat of terrorism.


Joseph Cirincione is director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. From 1985 to 1991, he served on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee. Here, he tells FRONTLINE that the threat of ballistic missiles has been exaggerated; that technology itself, not the ABM Treaty, has been the true obstacle to developing an effective missile defense; and that the United States has diverted attention and resources to an illusory missile threat when it should have been focusing on the threat of terrorism.


Philip Coyle was the assistant secretary of defense and director of operational test and evaluation at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001. He is currently a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. Here, Coyle discusses why he recommended to President Clinton in the summer of 2000 that he not deploy the ground-based missile defense system. He also talks about the blurring lines in the Bush administration's policies between "national" and "theater" missile defenses, and he explains why he thinks the missile defense program is the most difficult task the military has ever undertaken.


Richard Garwin, a physicist who helped build America's hydrogen bomb, is a senior fellow and the director of science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written extensively about missile defense. Here, Garwin discusses some of the key moments in missile defense history, the inability to defend against biological warfare "bomblets" launched from long-range missiles, and other limitations of current technologies. Garwin also talks about his role in the controversial Rumsfeld commission report in 1998.


Steven Weinberg won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979 and holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin. Here, Weinberg details the many shortcomings of the past and proposed defenses against long-range missiles and explains why he thinks the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty may start an adverse chain of events.

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