America's Provocative Weakness: the U.S. Policy of Vulnerability to Ballistic Missile Attack

Date of Graduation

Spring 2003


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Ballistic missile attack presents one of the most dangerous and troubling threats to the United States' national security today. For many nations that may wish to threaten the United States, ballistic missiles provide an affordable, readily accessible, and reliable delivery system for payloads ranging from conventional explosives to weapons of mass destruction. The most attractive element of ballistic missiles is the fact that the United States has no defenses against ballistic missile attack. This thesis offers an analysis of why, after over fifty years of work on ballistic missile defense, the United States is still without any deployed missile defenses today. It will examine the theories and policies that have led to America's continued vulnerability to ballistic missile attack, and continue to shape the public discourse about missile defense today. Finally, it will examine the United States' current missile defense policy, analyze the policy's potential strengths and weaknesses, and identify possible alternatives to the current administration's missile defense policy.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


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