Table: The Pros and Cons of America's Missile Defense
Why Bush Wants It
The Administration fears eventual nuclear attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iraq and North Korea, and accidental launches from China or Russia.
Making progress on Reagan's dream would boost Bush's reputation with conservatives while showing Americans he is doing his best to protect them.
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
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.
By overhauling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Administration would test relations with Russia and Europe.
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.