Notes: President George W. Bush completed his European trip on Saturday. He claims to have made some progress in convincing European leaders of the validity of his proposed missile-shield defense. Regardless, Russia, China and France remain solidly opposed to it. France has strongly said that it does not want to see the policy of detente abandoned since it has worked thus far. Russia and China claim that building such a defense will violate the missile treaty that the United States is a party to, and will reinstate the arms race by causing them to build missiles that can penetrate the shield. Bush claims it's time to move on from the treaty, anyway, stating that Russia is no longer an enemy of the United States. He noticeably made no mention of China.

Some European analysts have asked where the threat to the United States is coming from that necessitates the building of a missile shield. The Bush administration claims the threat is from so-called rogue nations such as Iran. One European commentator has said that he believes that "rogue nations" is code for China.

A threshold problem with the proposed missile shield is whether it will even work. Under the Clinton administration, two of three tests at shooting down simulated incoming missiles failed. While a poll shows that a slight majority of Americans do favor the building of a missile shield, one wonders if they would want to pay taxes for an expensive, experimental defense system. Moreover, it can readily be argued that the biggest threat to the United States is not from nuclear missiles -- we are dominant in that class of weapons -- but is instead from acts of terrorism.