In 1962, President John F. Kennedy said, "The vast resources on this planet are being devoted more and more to the means of destroying, instead of enriching human life but the world was not meant to be a prison in which man awaits his execution." Today, a bold approach to curbing ballistic missile threats is both justified and essential. The world cannot wait for the catastrophic event - the use of a nuclear ballistic missile - before acting with urgency and imagination. To wait is to risk a tragedy of epochal proportions.
After Reykjavik, President Reagan took some heat - from both sides of the political aisle in Washington and from European allies - for proposing that the most straightforward way to eliminate ballistic missile threats was to eliminate ballistic missiles. In hindsight, however, Reagan was right. Let's get rid of these "god-awful" missiles before they get us.
Steve Andreasen served during the Clinton Administration as Director of Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council and previously in the State Department during the Bush and Reagan Administrations. He is a national security consultant and teaches at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. This piece is adapted from an article that appears in the Spring 2004 Issue of Survival.