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UC Expert Finds Missile Defense Broad Ranging Topic

Date: May 8, 2001
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Archive: General News

President George W. Bush made the biggest military policy statement of his young administration last week in affirming American determination to pursue a working missile defense program.

Consideration of the same subject consumes much of the academic efforts of UC associate professor of political science Richard Harknett.

Harknett has made missile defense policy a point of emphasis in his research on international security studies and American national security. He is a contributing author to a text due out this summer, Rockets Red Glare: Missile Defense and World Politics.

UC associate professor of political science Richard Harknett Next year, he will be spending spring quarter on a Fulbright Fellowship teaching international relations at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Austria.

Over spring break this year, he was an invited guest of the United States Embassy in Vienna, where he made a series of lectures to the public and at universities about U.S. missile defense policy. He also met with Austrian foreign ministry and defense ministry officials, including the head of the Austrian arms control agency.

Bush's new initiative moved away from describing a missile defense system as an American project towards a tool that can protect U.S. allies and other nations from missile attack by "rogue" states.

"The Bush team has dropped the 'national' from discussions about missile defense. This is not simple semantics but signals a different understanding of the problem and opens the path for real progress," Harknett says. "Among the many threats that exist in the 21st century, offensive missiles with weapons of mass destruction is one requiring some attention. In this world of offense, there is a place for limited defense."

Two immediate questions are the development of the technology and how it would fit into the overall realm of arms control internationally. Because of the uncertainties on both subjects, Harknett again sees the current climate as one of opportunity for the United States in shaping the long-term outlook for missile defense issues. In particular, suspicions from the Russian and Chinese governments must be addressed.

"There are two paths by which a world of missile defense can emerge. We are fast approaching the cross-roads," Harknett says. "By focusing on discussions about what, how, and when the Bush administration can achieve its goal of a world of defense with international support, rather than unilaterally. Russia, in particular, can be dealt with adroitly."

Harknett believes the Bush administration will be able to reach an international accord on global missile defense if it proceeds cautiously. "A path of consultation bounded by moderation and limitation can produce a world of missile offense and defense that furthers American interests and global security."

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