Any defense expenditure–including spending on missile defense–must be commensurate with the threat. More robust missile defenses are not justified by the limited threat. Also, sinking large amounts of funds into more comprehensive missile defenses–when even the Clinton administration’s limited system might fail because of technical risk or lack of adequate testing–is questionable.
The main objective of conservatives in supporting more robust missile defense systems does not seem to be defense of the U.S. homeland. Instead, their aim seems to be to create a stronger shield behind which the United States can move against potential regional adversaries possessing weapons of mass destruction and long‐range missiles to deliver them. The reasoning is that, if such adversaries cannot threaten the United States or its allies with catastrophic retaliation, U.S. policymakers will feel more confident in intervening militarily. But because any missile defense system cannot guarantee that all incoming warheads will be destroyed, that reasoning is a dangerous illusion that could actually undermine U.S. security. Thus, development of a missile shield should be confined to the more limited land‐based system that the Clinton administration has proposed.