A systematic critical survey of American strategic thinking and the strategic culture in which it is formed. In particular, this book seeks to interrogate the theory and strategy of nuclear deterrence, and its relationship to the concept of missile defence. Drawing widely on the theoretical literature in international relations and strategic studies, it identifies the key groups that have competed over America's nuclear policy post-1945 and examines how the concept of missile defence went through a process of gestation and intellectual contestation, leading to its eventual legitimization in the late 1990s. Steff sheds light on the individuals, groups, institutions and processes that led to the decision by the Bush administration to deploy a national missile defence shield. Additionally, Steff systematically examines the impact deployment had on the calculations of Russia and China. In the process he explains that their reactions under the Bush administration have continued into the Obama era, revealing that a new great power security dilemma has broken out. This, Steff shows, has led to a decline in great power relations as a consequence.
’A cutting edge body of work that comprehensively addresses an ongoing source of tension in international security today. Steff's work transcends the threshold of convention and brings a timely analysis (both historical and contemporary) to the area of missile defense and the responses from all US Administrations extending back to Truman. A must have� for any international relations, international security, US foreign policy researcher, scholar and policymaker.’ Aiden Warren, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia ’Is the nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile just a new way of conducting a very old business or so utterly different that we have to re-invent the management of human affairs? The quest for defences against these weapons provides an illuminating vantage point from which to consider this existential question, and Reuben Steff makes very good use of it. Though a scholarly work, it is written in plain English and will reward the interested lay reader as well as professionals in the field.’ Ron Huisken, Australian National University, Australia ’This book examines the causes and consequences of the U.S. pursuit of ballistic missile defenses. In it, Steff shows how ideas, domestic politics, and changes in the international system have interacted as drivers of U.S. policy, and he highlights how U.S. missile defense efforts have led to negative reactions by Russia and China. This book will be of interest both to those who follow nuclear weapons policy debates and to students of international relations theory.’ Jeffrey W. Knopf, Monterey Institute of International Studies, USA