Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

US Decision Making on Missile Defense

Cho, Yeonmin (2009) US Decision Making on Missile Defense. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (1MB) | Preview


The world entered the nuclear age in 1945 when the United States first acquired nuclear capability. The United States enjoyed a strategic monopoly but only for a couple of years until the Soviet Union tested its nuclear device in 1949. Since then, the United Kingdom, France, and China joined the exclusive nuclear club, and the threat of nuclear weapons has become one of the most daunting challenges of the world. Almost immediately after the United States developed nuclear weapons in the 1940s, it began to explore a way to destroy an incoming nuclear warhead before it reached its target in the United States in order to negate the dangers of nuclear weapons. Smaller scale threats coming from the Third World or rogue states and possibly terrorist organizations are serious factors to be reckoned with, but the nuclear threat from the Soviets was the backbone of US strategic thinking after WWII and until the late 1980s and early 1990s. During the long history of missile defense, the strategic environment experienced fundamental shifts, the most significant being the end of the Cold War. Nevertheless, the United States has shown rather consistent support for missile defense. Missile defense policy changes were seen but they did not coincide with the rise or fall of the Soviet threat. This is the central research question of this study: how has US missile defense policy been able to survive for decades despite fundamental changes in the security environment? The main interest of this study is the decision making process. Essentially, this study attempts to discover the central force behind US missile defense policy. In this effort, this study proposes three competing perspectives: the security perspective, the bureaucratic politics perspective, and the congressional perspective. Was it the external security factor? Was it the executive branch of the US government? Or was it Congress that brought about the policy decisions? This study argues that new strategic developments play an extremely important role in triggering policy changes, but Congress was instrumental in materializing missile defense policy changes.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGoldstein, Donaldgoldy@pitt.eduGOLDY
Committee MemberGormley, Dennis Mdgormley@pitt.eduDGORMLEY
Committee MemberRoberts, James
Committee MemberWilliams,
Date: 26 June 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 24 April 2009
Approval Date: 26 June 2009
Submission Date: 13 May 2009
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ballistic Missile Defense; Antiballistic Missile; Global Protection Against Limited Strikes; Strategic Defense Initiative
Other ID:, etd-05132009-175552
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:44
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item