Theatre Missile Defence

April 30, 2003

By Dave Knight

Stalking Horse for Missile Defence, Trojan Horse for the Weaponisation of Space 

The development by the United States of a National Missile Defence system has quite rightly been seen as a threat to international security and a further arm of  ‘full spectrum dominance’. However insufficient attention has been paid to the political, social and security dangers of Theatre Missile Defence.

TMD not only poses a danger in itself but it also enhances the possibility of acceptance of US NMD by many states and contributes to the militarisation and eventual weaponisation of outer space.

Nuclear Disarmament

As the success of the New Agenda Resolution at the 2002 UN First Committee and General Assembly indicates it is becoming accepted that missile defence and the weaponisation of space have a negative effect on the international nuclear disarmament process. However the dangers of TMD go much deeper.

It is clear that if the US goes ahead with the deployment of missile defence then China will modernise and increase its nuclear arsenal. In addition the development of missile defence is having a ‘knock-on’ effect on the security policies of many states. For instance Russia wishes to be involved in a bilateral or regional system.

The Allies

The US is proposing a ‘system of systems’ for missile defence, which is blurring the distinction between the different possible uses of such systems thereby allowing TMD to be used as a ‘stalking horse’ for NMD. TMD becomes NMD when a system used by the US to ‘protect’ areas or regions where it has bases or special interest is used by a country or region to ‘protect’ itself, with or without the involvement of the US or another major power.

The involvement of the US with a number of countries on various missile defence projects is an opportunity for the US to tie allies into the concept and the reality of missile defence. The UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, Italy, and the Netherlands are all involved in such projects. In addition NATO is also involved in missile defence projects. Thus the stationing of Anti-Ballistic Missile sites in Europe is on the horizon. Spreading the enormous costs of the systems is a bonus for Washington if they can keep these allies on-board.

By tying companies such as: European Aeronautic Defence and Space, BAe Systems, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Israel Aircraft Industries into contracts with the US companies Lockhead Martin, Boeing and others a major lobby is created which will continue to put pressure on allied governments to support missile defence programmes. They are pushing at an open door since many states want to profit from missile defence technologically and economically.

If states are to fund such expensive systems they will need to cut back on other spending. The welfare programmes of many countries are already under threat.


TMD is integral to the US security paradigm and is firmly supported, not only by the Republican Administration, but also the former Democrat Governments, even if they would go slower on the development of NMD. Both missile defence and the militarisation of space are crucial to the US long reach force projection project. Missile defence is a Trojan Horse for the weaponisation of space. One aim of the US Space Policy and of the developing European Space Policy is denying or controlling the access to space of other states. This is in violation of the Outer Space Treaty

Missiles should be dealt with by the negotiation of an effective, universal, equitable and verifiable Treaty, i.e. a multilateral missile convention. It should not be attempted through the development of further systems, whether missile based or otherwise, which only add to the build up of arms and a dependence on military based ‘security’.

Theatre Missile Defence exemplifies the ‘gated community mentality’ and ‘laager approach’ to security and as such it will help maintain the present global power structure.

Dave Knight


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