News | Jan. 1, 2008

Combating WMD Threats

By Charles Lutes

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—and the specter of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists—defines what may well be America’s gravest strategic challenge in the years ahead. At a time when partisan debate over national security has become more commonplace, no one seriously disputes the stakes in this case.1While Cold War–era WMD threats were enormous, they also were kept at bay, mainly through a posture of deterrence, buttressed by alliance commitments and arms limitation. However, in today’s security environment with a diversity of threats, this combination of policies no longer suffices. In the post-9/11 era, we cannot escape the fact that for certain types of actors, the acquisition of WMD may inevitably equate to the use of such capabilities, most likely targeted against the United States and its interests, either at home or abroad. Faced with this central problem and a pernicious mixture of aggravating factors—most notably, the lack of secure control over the former Soviet Union’s far-flung WMD complex; continued pursuit of WMD capability by North Korea, Iran, and other pariah regimes; and the growth of shadowy networks of terrorists and nonstate suppliers—the United States finds itself at a crossroads. The path to greater security requires a more holistic, comprehensive policy to deal with these strategic threat. READ MORE >>