Congressional attitudes toward missile defense: implications for NMD from the sea
Adams, David Allan
Wirtz, James J.
Lavoy, Peter R.
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Pursuing a ship-based missile defense capability could thrust the naval service into one of the most heated controversies of the past three decades: the congressional debate over the desirability--or danger--of erecting widespread ballistic missile defenses. To better understand the influences on congressional attitudes, this study examines five divisive congressional debates over missile defense. In contrast to traditional explanations that focus on the causal factors underlying congressional voting behavior, this thesis emphasizes the political process of framing issues to create the political climates that shape congressional attitudes and link them to voting decisions. This thesis shows that major shifts in missile defense policy occur when key individuals successfully manipulate powerful images to legitimize and popularize arguments favoring their desired policy option. Understanding how elites use images to shape political attitudes provides a framework for charting and navigating the congressional storm that is likely to surround the deployment of future Navy missile defense systems.
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