It shouldn't be too difficult for Latham to sell the idea that Australia, by endorsing NMD, is aiding and abetting the Bush Administration in an adventure that will trigger a nuclear arms race centred on this region.
The real target of NMD is China, which has the capacity to deploy 1000 thermonuclear warheads on ICBMs by 2015. The strategic purpose of NMD is nuclear offence, not defence.
In theory NMD provides an anti-nuclear shield behind which a pre-emptive nuclear strike can be safely launched without fear of retaliation.
But in practice, the shield can be breached by low-flying cruise missiles launched from submarines close to shore or by terrorists carrying a nuclear device into the US (or Australia) in a suitcase.
NMD is a trillion-dollar fantasy. It is well outside the square of Dr Strangelove, which at least operated within a framework of the balance of terror provided by Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD for short).
When pressed, Hill could not even say against whom NMD is to protect Australia beyond 'rogue states'. Forget that NMD does not work. Forget that NMD drags us further into a dangerous alliance - dangerous because of Howard's failure to articulate a foreign policy beyond doing whatever the Bush administration asks. What rogue state would choose a missile launching system over sub-launched cruise?
And if NMD's real target is China what is that going to do to our new relationship with China?