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January 30, 2001—President George W. Bush has made clear his intention to deploy a national missile defense as soon as possible to counter the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Jan M. Lodal, a former senior official responsible for arms control and defense policy in both Republican and Democratic administrations, argues in a new Council on Foreign Relations book that much more sweeping changes must be made in U.S. policy to deal effectively with WMD.
Lodal argues that while the nuclear standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States is over, WMD remain the most serious threat to the security of the United States. The Information Revolution has spread the knowledge needed to develop these weapons and driven the globalization of commerce that makes export controls on them harder to enforce each year. As a result, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons are increasingly the means by which rogue states and terrorist organizations may choose to oppose the United States. At the same time, China and Russia, even though they are no longer America’s enemies, retain large nuclear forces that pose a potential threat.
Lodal, in his new book, The Price of Dominance: The New Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Challenge to American Leadership, identifies important changes that can be made in U.S. strategic policy to ameliorate the opposition of other powers to American-led efforts against WMD proliferation. Lodal proposes a strategic vision of strong deterrence coupled with open international cooperation around which President Bush could organize a U.S. policy toward WMD that could develop wide support domestically and internationally. As a first step, the U.S. would modernize its nuclear doctrine by dropping "prompt retaliatory" war plans that, when combined with necessary future antiballistic missile systems, would give the U.S. a nuclear first strike capability. Dropping these plans would open up the possibility of a new approach to arms control and cooperation with Russia, China, France, and others in halting WMD proliferation.
“What intrigues me about Jan Lodal’s book,” says Council on Foreign Relations President Leslie H. Gelb, “is its bold moves and coherent vision, so essential in any effort to combat the extremism, terrorism, and anarchy that drive the new WMD threats.”