In This Review

Defending America: The Case for Limited National Missile Defense
Defending America: The Case for Limited National Missile Defense
By James M. Lindsay and Michael E. O'Hanlon
Brookings Institution Press, 2001, 258 pp

The subtitle is an accurate preview: the authors endorse building limited defenses against ballistic missiles. They suggest a two-tier system of theater-based defenses to hit missiles in their boost phase as well as a modest national defense system based in North Dakota. China and Russia, they warn, might feel threatened by a more ambitious plan and therefore need to be reassured. The United States should therefore try to cut a deal, negotiated in the form of an amended Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, that will placate these powers, to whom this treaty symbolizes strategic stability. But if Russia and China do not want to go along, Lindsay and O'Hanlon conclude, the United States should do what it must to defend itself. Aside from the tactical form of this approach and the authors' nomenclature (references to "national" missile defense are not too helpful when talking to allies), the book's position is not far from the likely outcome of the Bush administration's current review. Even those readers who have made up their minds should find this book a useful compendium of information and analysis on an old topic.