Strategic Deception: Rhetoric, Science, and Politics in Missile Defense Advocacy
Gordon R. Mitchell
The Cold War's legacy has been characterized by a systematic pattern of threat inflation, a relentless stream of surplus weapons development, and a predilection for a brand of secret science that lines the pockets of defense contractors and swells the war chests of hawkish politicians-things that fray the fabric of democracy. There is perhaps no military project more representative of this legacy than ballistic missile defense (BMD). Since Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars address" in 1983, taxpayers have spent more than $100 billion on BMD projects. Close examination reveals that many of these programs were of dubious value. Politically seductive but scientifically elusive, the notion of missile defense has given rise to waves of runaway rhetoric featuring technical claims that have outstripped supporting scientific data.
Many expected that such instances of strategic deception would crumble with the Berlin Wall, but interlocking military and industrial interests have invented sophisticated new forms of deception to keep BMD projects alive. In this work, Gordon Mitchell examines the technical and political dimensions of the recurrent BMD controversies from a rhetorical perspective. His analysis yields original insights into the origins and dynamics of Reagan's Star Wars proposal, the postmodern complexities of strategic deception on Patriot missile accuracy in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, as well as fresh perspectives on Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) and National Missile Defense (NMD). Mitchell believes that, as the episodes of strategic deception in missile defense advocacy recur perennially, the democratic pedigree of American society erodes.
Michigan State University Press, 2000 (winner 2001 NCA Winans-Wichelns Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Public Address).