The Politics of ABM

Wildavsky, Aaron. "The Politics of ABM," Commentary Magazine, November 1969.

“Issues have lives of their own. Men cannot often choose the ground on which to fight major issues; they must take what the world offers up. There is always the danger, then, that the issue will control the men, rather than the men the issue. The recent controversy over the Safeguard anti-ballistic missile is a classic case in point. Thus the advocates of ABM—people who in the past were likely to be great believers in the prevailing American doctrine of nuclear deterrence—have taken the lead in challenging that doctrine, while opponents of ABM—people more or less of the Left and previously skeptical of the same doctrine—have become ever more firmly wedded to it. Thus, too, some of those who are against ABM are willing to entertain a launch-on-warning policy (that is, a policy which would have the U.S. fire all its missiles to avoid having them destroyed in a suspected enemy attack) for the 1970’s, while those who favor the ABM are bitterly opposed to such a policy. And thus, finally, some elements of the opposition to ABM have talked themselves into believing that the 1972 Presidential campaign should be run on the basis of opposition to the power of the military in the United States. One thing, however, is clear: it all began when an always precarious nuclear balance between the United States and the Soviet Union was apparently threatened by new weapons.”

– Excerpt

Commentary Magazine