NMD in Europe: How will its progress affect Russian opposition?

Two bears cannot dwell in one bear’s lair.

Old Russian Proverb

Introduction

The United States has a lot invested in its ballistic missile defense program. Monumental leaps in technology since the advent of President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program have been backed up with the actual deployment of interceptor missiles and complementary radar systems on US territory, namely in Alaska and California. And though many critics are claiming that this system has never even been properly tested, the United States is pushing the program even farther, into the far-flung reaches of northern Europe, with a Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) site planned for Poland, and an X-Band Radar site for the Czech Republic. The proposed justification for this move is the defense of the United States and its European allies against developing nuclear threats from “rogue states” such as Iran.

However, unilateral acceptance for this proposal throughout the European continent is hardly a given. Russia has been one of the most vocal opponents. Highly cognizant of its position as the world’s second largest nuclear superpower, it has objected sharply to the positioning of ballistic missile-defense elements near its borders. Russian government officials have decried what they see as a serious deterioration of a developing relationship with the United States. The unproven nature of the system, due to a perceived lack of comprehensive testing, is often cited by these officials in denouncing US missile-defense plans for Europe.

The question of how Russia will respond to US efforts to deploy ballistic missile-defense elements worldwide as part of an effort to reduce nuclear proliferation proactively remains open. There are many variables at work here, and the final answer to that, if any, will depend on the autonomous actions of many different players in the world arena. This study, however, will focus on one of these inputs; namely, the results of flight tests, intercept attempts, and other technological breakthroughs, that if successful could be used to validate the US’s ballistic missile defense system as “battle-ready”, or conversely, produce failures that would further discredit US missile-defense efforts. Political groups and government agencies within the US place a great deal of importance on these results, since they are directly tied to program funding, development, and general acceptance of ballistic missile defense by the US populace. In fact, political tensions with Russia over the prospect of the European missile-defense sites are one of the primary arguments being used by missile-defense opponents in the US and any alleviation of that tension would be a great boon for the proposed European development.

The specific question for this study then, is: How will the outcome of US missile-defense flight tests or technological breakthroughs affect Russia’s stance on the establishment of US missile-defense radar and interceptor sites in Europe? The level of priority attached to these developmental results by Russia will be examined, as well as considering the many other factors that may override them.

Literature Review

There is a preponderance of material readily available in the US reflecting strong opinions either for or against the deployment of US National Missile Defense (NMD) elements in Europe, as well as wildly varying interpretations of NMD related flight tests conducted by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). However, the key to understanding the Russian position on these matters is in looking at what the Russians themselves have had to say about it. This involves not only referring to academic studies conducted by Russian scientists and sociologists, but also taking into account statements on the subject made by policy makers, military leaders, and the like. Political commentary also plays an important role here, as media outlets in Russia are all curtailed to some extent by the government. This results in a closer adherence to the “official” position than would be representative of news agencies in the US.

To that end, this study will place a premium on original Russian source materials and will rely on direct translations of these materials made available by US government agencies. Secondary to these will be US and European studies and analysis directly related to the Russian perspective, especially those referenced by Russian sources to justify their positions. Tertiary materials would include products focused primarily on a non-Russian viewpoint.

To date, there have been few, if any, scientific or sociological studies conducted in Russia relating directly to US plans for European NMD sites or interpretation of technological progress for the NMD program. There have certainly been no academic attempts to establish the nature of the relationship between the two. What remains to aid in the understanding of that relationship is comprised largely of analysis conducted by both active and retired military experts of the possible threat posed by European NMD sites positioned near Russian borders, assessments of US NMD capabilities viewed through the lens of past performance and continuing development, designation of Iran as a nuclear threat now or in the near future, and attempts to understand the US’s true intentions. This military analysis is also reflected and augmented through public statements made by political and military leaders and ranges in tone from guarded skepticism to belligerent reactionism

Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, a key player in Russia’s strategic nuclear policy since the very onset of the “Cold War”, represents the less reactionary, or what has been termed “minimalist”, end of this spectrum in the Russian military. Minimalists “perceive a limited role for nuclear weapons” thereby favoring a relatively small nuclear arsenal as well as maintaining a positive working relationship with the US. Minimalists seek to avoid a return to the belligerent standoffs and costly arms-races that were so prevalent and debilitating during the Cold War era .

In Dvorkin’s minimalist analysis of the threat posed by US NMD to Russia, he concludes that Russia’s nuclear deterrence capability could eventually be reduced through NMD, but only in the distant future. This is supported by pointing out that the 10 interceptors planned for deployment in Poland hardly represent a threat to Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal, especially considering their limited ability to engage targets with advanced counter-measures. In addition, GBIs are designed only for engagement during the midcourse phase of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) flight, and consequently Russian ICBMs would be outside of the engagement window for any Polish interceptors. The only real threat would be in non-ICBM engagements such as military satellites and space vehicles which would be defenseless against GBIs, and as such a “ban must be imposed on the testing of this system to impact space vehicles” .

The assessment adopts a conciliatory view with the US in recognizing Iran as an emerging nuclear threat, referring to the Iranian efforts in recent years in both acquiring nuclear materials and missile technology, but states this threat is also not expected to emerge until the distant future. The question is then posed as to why the US would act unilaterally to deploy an untested system not expected to achieve even a moderate anti-ICBM capability for at least 5 years. Proper testing, and more importantly, joint efforts with partners such as Russia are presented as essential elements of a truly effective missile defense system focused on “real” threats .

Dvorkin’s analysis is a bias-free assessment and is further validated by a refusal to simply dismiss US concerns as preposterous without taking careful consideration of them. The significance of this perspective is that, when the US and Russia have a common understanding of both the potential threat and NMD capability, test results and technological innovation seem to move up in priority when gauging Russian reaction to European NMD sites. NMD developmental successes would result in less resistance and a greater desire for cooperation, while failures would dampen Russian enthusiasm in both respects.

On the other end of the reactionary spectrum are found, among others, proponents of a revival in Russian nationalism, or “maximalists” . In the maximalist view, Russia’s influence is dangerously waning, in both regional and international spheres, and must be re-established not just for the sake of prestige, but for the nation’s very survival. The fall of the Soviet Union was marked by not only a great sense of tragedy and loss among its people, but also a “perpetual search inside the country and abroad for those who are to blame” . The US, and the emergence of its NMD plans for Europe, presents a highly visible scapegoat, whose goals are “outright anti-Russian” . In practice, maximalists envision a much broader utility for nuclear weapons than mere deterrence, favoring a relatively large nuclear arsenal and a larger, more robust military in general.

The maximalist assessment of the European NMD system, which seems to have been adopted by the majority of Russian officials to include President Putin, perceives the threat “not so much in its initial potential” which is quite limited, but primarily in “the prospect of its being increased many times over” . Once the US has an established NMD “footprint” in Poland and the Czech Republic, it will be easily able to augment and expand that system to include additional sites in other Russian satellite countries . There is the fear that at some point in the intermediate future, given the conditions of Russia’s continually eroding nuclear capability compounded with a constantly evolving US NMD system near its borders, the “deterrence threshold will have been crossed” and the possibility of a pre-emptive strike by the US would become frighteningly plausible .

The maximalist analysis severely discounts any nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea as being non-existent for the foreseeable future, while at the same time questioning the reasoning employed in positioning interceptors in Europe when it makes more military sense to deploy Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) assets much nearer to their intended targets. The inevitable conclusion reached is that the European NMD system is not intended to counter Iran as the US claims, but its true purpose lies in undermining Russia’s nuclear dominance. In the words of chief Russian officials who have adopted this viewpoint: “antimissile defence elements in Poland and the Czech Republic deployed close to Russian territory will have no other targets except the strategic bases of the Russian Federation in Europe” .

The problem with this approach is that most of the conclusions reached through this analysis are likely a result of a basic misunderstanding of the concept of layered defense envisioned for NMD. While it is advantageous to have missile-defense elements in close geographical proximity to engage targets during the first 3 to 6 minutes after launch known as the “boost” phase, or time in powered flight, GBIs are designed for “midcourse” engagements and are employed in a much different manner. This is because the interceptors operate above the atmosphere well past boost phase, and require a significant amount of time and stand-off distance to ”detect, track, and intercept ballistic missiles” . GBIs cannot be positioned near their targets, as has been suggested by Russian leaders, and still have a viable chance at performing successful intercepts.

Unfortunately, this misunderstanding has been reinforced by scientific studies produced by politically motivated scientists in the US with the specific purpose of increasing Russian opposition to the European NMD proposal. The latest of these makes the claim that because a GBI utilizes a similar rocket body to a conventional ICBM, yet carries a much lighter payload, it would be able to achieve speeds 40% greater than conventional ICBMs, enabling “tail-chase” engagements to be successfully conducted from Poland on Russian warheads in flight towards US targets In addition, the X-band radar to be deployed in the Czech Republic has the potential of a 300 fold increase in capability allowing it, in theory, to eventually be able to track hundreds of enemy missiles. The only possible recourse then, for “Russia’s military analysts”, would be to view US intentions as hostile .

This study has been often cited by reactionary leaders in Russia because it complements their maximalist mindset and its focus on countering the maximum “theoretical” threat instead of dealing realistically with current capabilities. However, much bias is evident in this willingness to accept any theoretical proposition regarding capability or intent. The speed characteristics of the interceptor and the ability to “catch up” with enemy warheads are major cruxes of the maximalist arguments that point to hostile intentions by the US, but have never been supported by any tests, and are in fact not testable by the researchers. The only entity capable of testing such a claim, the MDA, states that the figures are inaccurate based on its own test results, and currently has no plans to test an interceptor for theoretical maximum speed or tail chase intercepts. The same goes for the maximum capability of the X-band radar.

In short, the theoretical capabilities presented here are just that, “theoretical” in the layman’s use of the word, and don’t seem to represent reality in the present or near future. The maximalist position on European NMD is thus inherently weak and likely to fluctuate as understanding of actual capabilities and deployment strategies based on time and distance requirements inevitably increase. However, regarding the interpretation of test results and technological innovation, it seems obvious that an inverse relationship would be in effect. Success would increase opposition in the maximalist camp while failures might induce a null response or even a lessening of hostility.

Of course, it is very possible that the Russian leadership actually understands the very limited nature of the threat posed, but has chosen to adopt such an aggressive posture in order to utilize European NMD as a cover for achieving other ends. Specifically, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty of 1987 and the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty of 1990 have long been viewed by many influential groups in Moscow as “irrelevant anachronisms” which are “creating extreme imbalances between Russia and an expanding NATO” . A withdrawal from the INF treaty would allow Russia to resume production of intermediate range nuclear weapons which would be more effective in addressing regional concerns in Europe and Asia than their long range counterparts that make up most of the current arsenal. Pulling out of the CFE treaty would also have regional benefits, allowing greater leveraging of troops in contested areas such as Southern Ossetia and Abkhazia . In this case, the outcome of test results and technological innovations relating to NMD would take a backseat to these other concerns. Successes or failures would likely have no effect in changing Russia’s stance; at least until higher priority objectives had been achieved.

Finally, there may not be much actual value for Russia in pursuing this course of action, as it currently lacks the funding to back up these moves with significant amounts of troops and equipment, nor is there any real desire to significantly worsen the relationship with the West. Putin’s administration may just be trying to put a strong foot forward as it nears the 2008 elections. The point is that there are many evolving variables beyond just technical concerns which could influence the outcome of NMD in the coming year.

It is apparent that political and military environment the European NMD system is operating within is in a state of transition, with the potential for radical changes in the ensuing weeks and months. Flight tests and technological innovations appear to play a significant role in establishing credibility, and may play a significant role in garnering Russian favor in the context of US installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. This study will attempt to determine that role based on the interplay between minimalist and maximalist policymakers currently in effect in Russia, as well as considering the fact that there may not be a decisive role at all.

Theoretical Framework

What becomes most obvious after reviewing the literature is the realization that, on the Russian side at least; there is a great deal of confusion about the capabilities of the European NMD system. The Russians themselves do not appear to know how they should react to flight tests conducted by the US nor do they seem to comprehend the technical and scientific implications or how they should be interpreted. There has even been a call by Russian scientists for an international team of experts to “comprehensively characterize the situation from the scientific and technical perspective” . This gap in knowledge is one of the primary reasons why Russian leaders have so enthusiastically latched onto studies designed to exploit their naïveté, such as the Lewis and Postol article, choosing to expound on theoretical limits rather than ground truth capabilities.

Fortunately, there are only three plausible scenarios when it comes to the Russian interpretation of NMD related technical events; Russian opposition to European NMD is increased, decreased, or there is no significant (null) effect. To further refine this framework, it would also be useful to determine which of the three basic “perspectives of international relations” or “images” (realism, pluralism, or globalism) is most relevant to this particular situation . Interestingly enough, it appears that in this particular case each possible relationship can logically be tied to one of the international relations images.

The first of these images, realism, has been the de facto standard since the advent of the discipline of international relations following World War II. It is through realism that the other major images have been forced to define, or differentiate, themselves. Realism, in particular, radiates from the concept that the state is a rational, unitary actor, and that as such, will take whatever actions are necessary to ensure its survival. Therefore national security is of the utmost importance and is known as “high politics”, while other matters such as economics and social issues are relegated to a secondary status with the moniker “low politics” .

The next image, pluralism, works from the assumption that “nonstate actors” are critical elements that must be accounted for and that the state itself, rather than being unitary, is composed of these elements . The state is not a “reified entity” in that in cannot be thought of as a single being acting with a single mind, but is composed of multiple bureaucracies and constituencies, all of which are working in their own self-interests . The resulting behavior of the state then, is not necessarily rational, as what may be beneficial to a dominant group might be detrimental to the state as a whole.

The final image, globalism, is predicated on the elevation of economics, and more specifically the capitalist world system, as the single most critical factor to understanding international relations. It is the global economic system, its history, and the dependency relationships within it, that “conditions and constrains the behavior of all states and societies” . Globalism discounts all other factors that do not relate to economic relationships.

In the case of European NMD, it could be assumed that a rational Russian state acting as a realist unitary actor would readily recognize the modest capabilities of the proposed system, but due to pressing regional concerns might decide to use complaints about missile defense as a justification for its withdrawal from the INF and CFE treaties it feels are unnecessarily compromising its regional security. Therefore, technological innovations or successful flight tests would have little to no impact on Russia’s official stance as long as it felt a cover story was necessary to meet its national security objectives. In this way, trends towards a realist perspective or an unmitigated focus on security issues could be linked to a null relationship.

Next, the irrational behavior so characteristic of pluralism seems to be manifesting itself within a powerful group in Russia, the Maximalists, which believes increased military spending and capability are the solutions to both restoring their nation to a superpower status and increasing their control over economic and military institutions. While wary of the destructive over-spending that marked the Soviet response to the US’s SDI program in the 1980s, they contend that a controlled arms-race is required to “develop weapons capable of overcoming any obstacles” . Such asymmetrical options are necessary to counter perceived threats, especially when those threats are assessed using their theoretical, rather than actual, capabilities. Consequently, indications of “arm-race” policies that incorporate the theoretical capabilities of the European NMD system could be linked to an inverse relationship.

Finally, the European NMD system has been proposed as a defense against Iran. Iran, viewed from the globalist perspective as a Less Developed Country (LDC), has long held aspirations of joining the “Nuclear Club” in order to become the premier regional authority in the Middle East. Russia, as a “northern” industrialized state, has the incentive to prevent Iran from accomplishing this because it would threaten Russia’s economic superiority as well as its standing with other top-tier countries. Therefore, indications of Russia seriously considering Iranian nuclear proliferation as a threat and taking substantive measures to contain it as well as recognizing NMD as part of the containment solution could be linked to a direct relationship.

Research Design

Hypothesis 1 (Globalism): Successful NMD flight tests and technological innovations will decrease Russian opposition to European NMD sites planned by the US.

Hypothesis 2 (Pluralism): Successful NMD flight tests and technological innovations will increase Russian opposition to European NMD sites planned by the US.

Hypothesis 3 (Realism): Successful NMD flight tests and technological innovations will have little to no effect on Russian opposition to European NMD sites planned by the US.

This study will be qualitative due to the highly subjective nature of both the dependent and independent variables. The independent variables include flight test results, technological innovations, and the dominant image adopted by Russian leaders. The dependent variable is the degree of Russian opposition to European NMD. The independent variables “flight test results” and “technological innovations” do appear to have some level of multicollinearity. These two could be combined into one variable hypothetically named “positive NMD news of a technological or scientific nature” but the former terms have been used for the sake of simplicity.

Pattern matching, a technique commonly utilized in quantitative analysis , will be used here in its basic narrative form. The Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) technique will be used to identify hypotheses, prepare evidence that supports or refutes each hypothesis, and then refine that evidence based on diagnosticity, or ability to “determine the likelihood of one hypothesis versus another” . Critical evidence will be arrayed against hypotheses using a simple matrix, with each evidential item rated with a ‘+’ for support, ‘-‘ for refutation, and ‘/’ for no effect.

The dominant image has been somewhat artificially attached to each separate hypothesis, i.e. globalism to a positive outcome, pluralism to a negative. This is not to imply that each outcome could not occur within the context of each image. It is understood that multiple scenarios could take place within each. However, this construct has been implemented for both brevity and completeness as the number of hypotheses is limited to 3 while at the same time each major international relations perspective is addressed. Additionally, each hypothesis is presumed to be symmetrical, so test failures or technological setbacks might be expected to have the opposite results of successes, as in where a success would have resulted in a lessening in opposition, a failure would result in an increase.

Due to time and resource constraints, source material has been limited to published materials. Priority has been given to Russian language reports and statements translated by US government agencies as these best encapsulate the subject under study. Other materials have been gleaned from academic databases available throughout the US. Data collection among Russian policymakers and analysts would have been extremely useful for this particular case, but the feasibility of such a collection effort is not within the scope of this study.

Case Study/Findings

ACH is a process which endeavors to put all viable solutions on the table at once in an effort to objectively choose between them. It is an intensive 8 step process (see Figure 1) which provides a clear way of accomplishing this.

Figure 1 :

Step-by-Step Outline of Analysis of Competing Hypotheses

Step 1

Identify Possible Hypotheses

Step 2

Determine Significant Evidence

Step 3

Analyze diagnosticity

Step 4

Refine the evidence

Step 5

Disprove hypotheses

Step 6

Analyze sensitivity to evidence

Step 7

Report conclusions and likelihood of all the hypotheses

Step 8

Identify milestones for future observation

The first step of identifying possible hypotheses has already been accomplished. The next step of determining significant evidence involves looking at the problem from the realist, pluralist, and globalist perspectives, giving equal weight, or an equivalent number of evidential items to each. In this case, 4 items of evidence will be considered for each image, for a total of 12. The evidence to be considered is detailed in Figure 2.

Figure 2:

Items of Evidence From Each International Relations Image

1 (Globalism)

MDA reported a successful interceptor flight test in Sep 2007

2 (Globalism)

MDA reported a failed interceptor flight test in May 2007

3 (Globalism)

Iran has vigorously pursued both nuclear and missile technology programs

4 (Globalism)

Russian leadership lacks understanding of GBI stand-off requirements

5 (Pluralism)

Many Russian officials view European NMD as a continuation of SDI, a weapon aimed squarely at Russia

6 (Pluralism)

The GBI missile could theoretically engage Russian ICBMs launched at US targets

7 (Pluralism)

Georgia is a country in which the US might consider fielding a missile defense platform

8 (Pluralism)

Iran’s current nuclear capability is nonexistent

9 (Realism)

Poland and Czech Republic have demonstrated a great deal of Anti-Russian sentiment

10 (Realism)

Russia has officially withdrawn from the CFE treaty and is considering withdrawing from the INF treaty

11 (Realism)

Russian leadership considers intermediate range missiles as a viable countermeasure for regional security concerns

12 (Realism)

Russia has political and economic ties with Iran that would be beneficial to preserve

Step 3 calls for the determination of diagnosticity in relation to each hypotheses for each item of evidence. This will be accomplished by incorporating all 3 hypotheses across the top rows of a matrix, and listing each piece of evidence down the side. Support for or against each hypothesis will be annotated in the inner cells of the table, which should then indicate which items of evidence have high diagnosticity (see Figure 6). However, before this can take place, pattern matching analysis must be conducted for each hypothesis. Figure 3 provides this analysis for Hypothesis 1.

Figure 3:

Pattern Matching Analysis for Hypothesis 1 (Globalism – Positive Effect)

Item #

Evidence

Rationale

Result

1

Successful Flight Test

Translates to minimalist perception that missile defense development is progressing well

(+)

2

Failed Flight Test

Cited by Russian leadership as indicative of lack of progress, indicating a symmetric relationship

(+)

3

Iran seeking nuclear/missile technology

Threatens to upset North-South power structure

(+)

4

Russian leaders don’t understand NMD requirements

Potential for positive change over time

(+)

5

NMD viewed as continuation of SDI

NMD targeting Russia is the only outcome with this viewpoint

(-)

6

GBI missiles can theoretically engage Russian ICBMS

Current capabilities take precedence over theoretical

(/)

7

Georgia could host NMD site

Further expansion of NMD into satellite countries will be difficult to justify as solely a counter to Iranian threat

(-)

8

Iran’s current nuclear capability is nonexistent

Iran’s potential nuclear capability, as well as willingness to disregard its economic superiors is the real issue

(/)

9

Poland and Czech Republic are “anti-Russian”

NMD can be justified in this country through deployment requirements and Iranian threat

(/)

10

Russia plans to withdraw from INF and CFE

Use of NMD as a cover requires persistent opposition to NMD

(-)

11

Intermediate range missiles solution to regional issues

Not particularly relevant to globalist perspective

(/)

12

Desire to preserve relationship with Iran

Small but lucrative economic ties with Iran

(-)

4 of the 12 evidences support the globalist hypothesis, while 4 refute it. The remaining 4 seem to have no significant effect. Based on the evidence here, there is no support for Hypothesis 1 outside of the globalist image. Next, Hypothesis 2 is examined in Figure 4.

Figure 4:

Pattern Matching Analysis for Hypothesis 2 (Pluralism – Negative Effect)

Item #

Evidence

Rationale

Result

1

Successful Flight Test

Greater NMD capability means greater expense in countering it

(+)

2

Failed Flight Test

Opposition did not lessen after this test, indicative of a non-symmetrical relationship

(/)

3

Iran seeking nuclear/missile technology

No current capability and Russian plans to shape future capabilities

(/)

4

Russian leaders don’t understand NMD requirements

Potential for positive change over time

(-)

5

NMD viewed as continuation of SDI

NMD targeting Russia is the only logical conclusion

(+)

6

GBI missiles can theoretically engage Russian ICBMS

Theoretical capabilities must be countered

(+)

7

Georgia could host NMD site

Fear of NMD encirclement by satellite countries is on the rise

(+)

8

Iran’s current nuclear capability is nonexistent

If the NMD target isn’t Iran, then it must be Russia

(+)

9

Poland and Czech Republic are “anti-Russian”

These countries represent declining Russian influence in Europe, which must be corrected

(+)

10

Russia plans to withdraw from INF and CFE

Increased NMD capabilities could provide further justification for NMD as a cover

(+)

11

Intermediate range missiles solution to regional issues

In line with “arms-race” mentality, but GBIs don’t effectively target intermediate range missiles

(/)

12

Desire to preserve relationship with Iran

Weapons industry supported by preserving this relationship

(+)

8 of the 12 evidences support Hypothesis 2, while only 1 refutes it. The remaining 3 have no effect. This indicates much stronger support for Hypothesis 2 than was the case for Hypothesis 1, and this support is found across the entire spectrum of international relations perspectives. Next, Hypothesis 3 is examined in Figure 5.

Figure 5:

Pattern Matching Analysis for Hypothesis 3 (Realism – Null Effect)

Item #

Evidence

Rationale

Result

1

Successful Flight Test

Opposition has remained steady over past 12 months despite tests

(+)

2

Failed Flight Test

Opposition has remained steady over past 12 months despite tests

(+)

3

Iran seeking nuclear/missile technology

If Iran can be plausibly presented as a threat to EU and US, then value of NMD as cover lessens

(-)

4

Russian leaders don’t understand NMD requirements

Better comprehension over time won’t change stance if achieving regional security objectives is a higher priority

(/)

5

NMD viewed as continuation of SDI

US intentions don’t play a role in regional concerns

(/)

6

GBI missiles can theoretically engage Russian ICBMS

Theoretical capabilities don’t trump regional concerns

(/)

7

Georgia could host NMD site

Growing fear of NMD encirclement by satellite countries could increase opposition

(-)

8

Iran’s current nuclear capability is nonexistent

No significant factor in achieving regional autonomy

(/)

9

Poland and Czech Republic are “anti-Russian”

Withdrawal from treaties counters this hostile sentiment

(+)

10

Russia plans to withdraw from INF and CFE

Strong indicator of true motive

(+)

11

Intermediate range missiles solution to regional issues

Hostile neighbors to include those with NMD could easily be targeted

(+)

12

Desire to preserve relationship with Iran

Russia should oppose NMD to preserve Iran relationship

(-)

5 of the 12 evidences support Hypothesis 3, while only 2 refute it. The remaining 5 have no effect. This indicates a very moderate degree of support for Hypothesis 3 in the realist and globalist perspectives. Hypothesis 2 has maintained a tentative lead in terms of number of supporting evidences, but this may change once diagnosticity of the evidence is assessed. Figure 6 reveals the diagnostic outcome.

Figure 6:

Diagnosticity Analysis

Item #

Evidence

H1

H2

H3

Diagnosticity

1

Successful Flight Test

(+)

(+)

(+)

None

2

Failed Flight Test

(+)

(/)

(+)

Low

3

Iran seeking nuclear/missile technology

(+)

(/)

(-)

Moderate

4

Russian leaders don’t understand NMD requirements

(+)

(-)

(/)

Moderate

5

NMD viewed as continuation of SDI

(-)

(+)

(/)

Moderate

6

GBI missiles can theoretically engage Russian ICBMS

(/)

(+)

(/)

Low

7

Georgia could host NMD site

(-)

(+)

(-)

High

8

Iran’s current nuclear capability is nonexistent

(/)

(+)

(/)

Low

9

Poland and Czech Republic are “anti-Russian”

(/)

(+)

(+)

Low

10

Russia plans to withdraw from INF and CFE

(-)

(+)

(+)

Moderate

11

Intermediate range missiles solution to regional issues

(/)

(/)

(+)

Low

12

Desire to preserve relationship with Iran

(-)

(+)

(-)

High

Diagnosticity is designated “High” if the evidence refutes two hypotheses while supporting a third. A “Moderate” designation would result from refuting one hypothesis while possibly supporting at least one other. A “Low” designation comes about from a failure to refute even one hypothesis, while “None” signifies similar results for each.

Steps 4, 5, and 6 of ACH are focused on culling out the evidence with low diagnostic value, then reevaluating the hypotheses using the refined evidence. The more critical a piece of evidence is to the findings, the more closely it should be examined (Heuer 1999). In this case, items 7 and 12 have the highest diagnostic value, with both supporting Hypothesis 2, while at the same time refuting Hypotheses 1 and 3. Subjecting both to closer scrutiny, item 12 is more defensible and represents a real desire on Russia’s part to maintain its relationship with Iran for a variety of reasons. However, item 7 lacks any backing from current US NMD plans and lies for the most part in the realm of speculation. Given its tenuous nature, item 7, or the possibility of a Georgian NMD site, should be removed.

Evidence with moderate diagnosticity will be retained due to its ability to refute at least one hypothesis, which is the primary means by which ACH is used to reach a conclusion . Finally, evidence with “Low” or no diagnostic value will only dilute the eventual findings, and will be removed. Figure 7 presents the remaining 5 evidences sorted by diagnosticity.

Figure 7:

Refined Evidential Analysis

Item #

Evidence

H1

H2

H3

Diagnosticity

12

Desire to preserve relationship with Iran

(-)

(+)

(-)

High

3

Iran seeking nuclear/missile technology

(+)

(/)

(-)

Moderate

4

Russian leaders don’t understand NMD requirements

(+)

(-)

(/)

Moderate

5

NMD viewed as continuation of SDI

(-)

(+)

(/)

Moderate

10

Russia plans to withdraw from INF and CFE

(-)

(+)

(+)

Moderate

Step 7 of ACH entails the reporting of conclusions drawn from the previous analysis (Heuer 1999). Accordingly, Hypothesis 1 represents the least likely scenario due to the highest number of refutations from the evidence to include item 12, the most critical. Hypothesis 3 is slightly more likely, being refuted only twice. However, Hypothesis 2 is the most compelling, being refuted only once and garnering support from 3 items of evidence to include 2 instances in which no other hypothesis was supported. As long as no additional evidence is brought to the table, or there is no change in the current situation, then Hypothesis 2, representing a pluralist “arms-race” perspective in which the perception of improving NMD capability is met with ever increasing Russian opposition, is the only defensible position when predicting the Russian reaction to successful NMD flight tests and technological innovations.

An analytical conclusion is always tentative, and the 8th and final step of ACH accounts for this by specifying what events an intelligence consumer should be on the look out for that would result in a change to the prediction (Heuer 1999). What appears most obvious in this case is that a souring of Russia’s current relationship with Iran could cause a lessening of opposition to European NMD as a form of retaliation against Iran. In that circumstance, the Russian leadership might be inclined to react favorably to NMD progress. Also, Russian presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008 might produce a radical shift from the current maximalist majority to a minimalist one that would be more willing to cooperate with the US on European NMD. Beyond these two major events, there are a multitude of other factors that could have a cumulative effect of changing the Russian stance, all of which are wrapped within a highly volatile and dynamic environment.

Conclusion

I believe this study aids in clarifying to both US policymakers and personnel working within the missile defense field what type of response they should expect from Russia regarding successful flight tests or other positive news associated with the US NMD program. It is true that we are dealing with a “new” Russia that has cooperated with the US in many significant ways, but at the end of the day, this “new” Russia shares many of the same characteristics of its Soviet forbearer. The naïve assumption that Russia would view NMD in the same light as the US or NATO has been exposed as a fallacy, and much work remains in convincing Russian leaders of NMD’s true purpose in countering the Iranian nuclear threat.

Referring to NMD’s technical feasibility as a means of justification will simply raise hackles. In the Russian leadership’s present view, this is a direct successor of SDI, meant to bring about Russia’s economic and military ruin. NMD symbolizes an expanding NATO and a declining Russia and can be seen as the first viable threat to the nuclear hammer so long held over Europe and the rest of the world. A different approach than this must be used to gain Russian trust on NMD.

Were this study to be expanded upon, it would be beneficial to look at the possibility of joint US and Russian NMD efforts. Both sides have many reasons not to provide full disclosure and cooperation, but this is, in all likelihood, the only means by which MDA’s vision of a “global” layered ballistic missile defense system can be realistically achieved. Russia is vital to this effort, not only because of its status as a nuclear superpower, but because of its unparalleled influence in regions where US foreign policy has had negligible effect.

In closing, readers would do well to remember the oft-used analogy of the Russian bear, a bear that is currently acting under the assumption that it has been pricked and is beginning to growl. While NMD carries with it the possibility of greater stability and world peace, if it were to cause that bear to be roused further it could spell disaster. Russia under the leadership of Vladimir Putin has been a stable, if somewhat autocratic, ally for the West, but who can say what the political climate will be in 5 or 10 years. If the US does not engage Russia on the NMD issue now, and continue doing so for the duration, it may find that its missile-defense efforts have been more costly than it ever imagined.

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