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Pivotal Power

September 21, 2009
Missile defense that will defend

In digesting the accounts of the Obama administration shift on missile defense, I had a surreal moment when I realized that I was experiencing surprise in reading that the system the U.S. plans now to deploy will actually defend against missiles — the kind of missiles Iran has — and will be ready to do so in a couple of years.

Missile defense during the Bush administration was so contingent as to be faith-based — if Iran builds long-range missiles, if they choose to commit a suicidal act by launching one, if the system can be made to work…if, if, if.  Of course, we need to plan for long-term and unknown threats, but not at the expense of protecting against more immediate and known threats. This shift also opens up more potential for cooperation with Russia on Iranian nuclear ambitions, by removing an irritant in the relationship but, more importantly, by showing just how serious we are about the threat from Tehran. Another victory for rational defense policies.  Go Gates.

– Nina Hachigian

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Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the co-author of “The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.” She has worked on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House and been a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. She specializes in U.S.-China relations and great power relationships, multilateral institutions and U.S. foreign policy.

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