In the past, U.S. decisionmakers have addressed strategic nuclear force and national missile defense issues in an incremental and uncoordinated manner. The forthcoming Strategic Posture Review (SPR) needs to fundamentally reassess the purposes of nuclear weapons, missile defenses, and the requirements of deterrence and stability in the new security environment. Such a framework should integrate new assessments of deterrence and stability over the next 10-20 years, in light of the much more diverse threats facing the United States. SPR should include a reassessment of U.S. strategic force levels and targeting requirements; consideration of different hedges and reconstitution options against greater-than-expected threats, such as maintaining production capabilities or making unilateral strategic force reductions outside a formal treaty framework; and development of a broad calculus to assess the impact of national missile defense and other strategic developments on deterrence and stability. Such aggression would be particularly troublesome if it involved use of weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles to deter U.S. and Western military intervention in regional crises. A strategy that puts higher priority on meeting future challenges from an adversarial Russia or a hostile China, and that maintains faith in traditional deterrence, is likely to continue relying most heavily on the threat of nuclear retaliation. A strategy that is more concerned with building partnerships with Russia and China and relying on preventive defense, traditional deterrence, and conventional capabilities to defend U.S. interests against rogue state actions would be characterized by lower levels of offense and no or low defenses.
Strategic Challenges for the Bush Administration: Perspectives from the Institute for National Strategic Studies, p.65-70