<This letter to the editor was published by the Santa Barbara News-Press on June 13, 2015.>

Thank you for publishing the important front-page article on June 1, “Major flaws revealed in U.S. anti-missile nuclear defense.” It confirms the unreliable nature of missile defenses. Despite the fact that U.S. missile defenses are flawed and unreliable, however, we are placing them close to the Russian borders, provoking Russia to maintain and modernize its offensive missiles.

David KriegerRussia views U.S. missile defenses as we would view their missile defenses were the situation reversed — as part of an offensive first-strike scenario, since these “defensive” missiles are capable of shooting down the remaining Russian offensive missiles that would survive a U.S. first-strike attack. The best way to understand the situation and the Russian perspective is to imagine the concerns of U.S. political and military leaders if Russia were placing missile defenses on the Canadian and Mexican borders with the U.S.

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was meant to prevent such defensive-offensive cycles of nuclear arms escalation by limiting the number of missile defense installations that could be deployed. However, the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from this treaty in 2002 under President George W. Bush. This unilateral treaty abrogation by the U.S. and our resultant continued deployment of missile defenses has undermined our legal and moral obligations to end the nuclear arms race at an early date and pursue further nuclear weapons reductions with Russia.

We are playing a very dangerous game of nuclear roulette, with the missiles pointed at humanity’s heart. This game is based upon an illogical, faith-based reliance on nuclear deterrence — the threat of massive, omnicidal nuclear retaliation. If such a threat were effective (which it isn’t), what would be the purpose of missile defenses, other than enriching “defense” corporations?

If you think your family is protected by nuclear deterrent threats, think again. If you think your family is protected by missile defenses, think yet again.

David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.