Over at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, we are on the second round of a three-way debate about the idea of a hypersonic missile test ban, which I first proposed on this blog almost a year ago. I am joined in this debate by Rajaram Nagappa, a genuine rocket scientist, and Tong Zhao, a Chinese policy analyst, neither of whom estimates the test ban to be a likely proposition but neither of whom has, so far, identified any compelling reason why it wouldn’t be a good thing. So far, I’m scoring that as a win.
After my article on the test ban in the Bulletin last September, the following month another author, actually a US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel, posted an article in the US military newspaper Stars and Stripes making much the same proposal. Lt. Col. Schreiner was then on leave as a research fellow at the Stimson Center, and he did make a strong case:
There is a window for action open right now. The U.S. should weigh the long-term strategic advantages of these weapons against the possible risks that they could destabilize the international system and drive the world into another arms race. We hold the overwhelming advantage across the spectrum of military capability. We are in the unique position to sound the call for halting this technology. We have the chance to lead the world out of an arms race instead of into one.
Curiously, the original article is no longer available at Stars and Stripes online (other articles posted the same day are available) but can be found in its print archive and also archived on the Wayback Machine.