Table: The Pros and Cons of America's Missile Defense

Why Bush Wants It

The Threat

The Administration fears eventual nuclear attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea, and accidental launches from China or Russia.

The Politics

Making progress on Reagan's dream would boost Bush's reputation with conservatives while showing Americans he is doing his best to protect them.

The Economics

Defense contractors who never recovered from the end of the cold war could benefit from a big weapons program. European companies are likely to lobby for a piece of it, which could top $100 billion.

What Could Go Wrong

Arms Race

Missile defense could provoke Beijing into expanding its nuclear arsenal, prompting India, Pakistan, and perhaps Japan to beef up. Europeans are also worried about a new buildup.

Strained Alliances

By overhauling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Administration would test relations with Russia and Europe.

Tech Effects

A surge in R&D spending could widen the tech gap between the U.S. and NATO allies, making joint missions harder. It's also possible the system won't work.

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