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US Missile Defense Strategy: Engaging the Debate

Michael Mayer
US Missile Defense Strategy: Engaging the Debate
ISBN: 978-1-62637-150-7
2014/235 pages/LC: 2014022133
 A FirstForumPress Book
"An important book ... the only one of its kind. Solidly researched, fluidly written, and a long-term contribution to the subject of US ballistic missile defense."—Thomas M. Nichols, US Naval War College

"A comprehensive description and assessment of US post–Cold War missile defense programs and policies.... It will be welcomed by both sides in the missile defense debate."—James J. Wirtz, Naval Postgraduate School


Why has the United States continued to develop ballistic missile defenses in an era of irregular warfare and asymmetric terrorist threats? How does missile defense contribute to US global strategy? Can the BMD system achieve the goals that lay behind its creation? Michael Mayer addresses these questions in his balanced approach to the contentious debate over the strategic value of missile defense.

Mayer surveys the grand strategies of the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, methodically comparing them with each president's missile defense policies. He also demystifies the fundamentals of the BMD system. Seeking to change the terms of the debate, he cogently challenges much of the conventional wisdom touted by both supporters and detractors of ballistic missile defense.


Michael Mayer is senior research fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies.


  • Why Missile Defense?
  • Strategic Roles for Missile Defense.
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Missile Defense.
  • BMD and the Clinton Administration.
  • BMD and the Bush Administration.
  • BMD and the Obama Administration.
  • The Strategic Utility of Missile Defense.