Andrew Futter

The evolution of US ballistic missile defence policy (1989-2010)

Supervisors: David Dunn and Adam Quinn

My ESRC funded PhD (which was defended in November 2011) examines the evolution of US ballistic missile defence policy between 1989 and 2010, by seeking to unearth the domestic and systemic causal drivers of policy and investigating how they interrelate. The central argument of my thesis is that US domestic political factors have played an important role in shaping BMD policy during this period, but within certain parameters imposed by outside forces and by technology. In this way, the thesis provides both a detailed historical analysis of US missile defence policy, and a challenge to theoretical frameworks that ignore or downplay the importance of domestic factors in understanding national security policy formulation.  My wider academic interests include Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control, US Domestic Politics, US and UK Foreign and Security Policy, and Diplomatic History.


I came to Birmingham in 2007 to start an ESRC-funded 1+3 PhD on the evolution of US ballistic missile defence policy since the end of the Cold War. After completing an MA in research methods, my PhD research started in October 2008. Prior to arriving in Birmingham, I studied as an undergraduate at Birmingham (2003-2006) and for an MA in Intelligence and International Security at King College London (2007-2008).

Between May-August 2010 I was a visiting scholar at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferaiton, and the Council for a Livable World, Washington D.C.

In November 2011 my PhD was passed without corrections by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman and Professor Mark Webber


  • BA Political Scince and international Studies (Bham)
  • MA Intelligence and International Studies (KCL)
  • MA Political Science (Research Methods) (Bham)

Research interests

  • Ballistic missile defence
  • British and American foreign and security policy
  • Nuclear weapons and arms control
  • Diplomatic and military history

Teaching responsibilities

  • Pols 206 Diplomatic History since 1945 (2nd year module)
  • Convener for Ma Strategic Studies
  • Pols 218 Approaches to International Security (2nd year module)
  • Guest lecturer on Pols 310 Contemporary US foreign and security policy

Conference papers


Futter, A (2011), “New START, missile defence and non-proliferation: US nuclear policy under Obama”, paper presented at British International Studies Association US Foreign Policy Working Group Conference, University of Oxford, (22nd-23rd September 2011)

Futter, A & Zala, B (2011) “Non-Nuclear Challenges for US Nuclear Rivalries: deterrence, trust-building and prospects for  nuclear disarmament”, paper presented at the Nuclear rivalries: prospects for cooperation and trust building conference, Aberystwyth University, (14-15th June)

Futter, A (2011) “Nuclear Deterrence in NATO: Developments and Future Challenges”, British International Studies Association Annual Conference, University of Manchester, (27th-29th April)

Futter, A (2010) "NATO, missile defence and the future of nuclear weapons in Europe", University of Birmingham, School of Government and Society Annual Graduate Colloquium, (24th February 2011)

Futter, A (2010) “Getting the balance right: US missile defence and nuclear nonproliferation”, CSIS Project on Nuclear Issues Conference, UK Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston, (21-22nd September 2010)

Futter, A (2010) “US missile defence and nuclear abolition”, BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group Conference,University of Leeds, (14-15th September 2010)

Futter, A (2010) "Still alive and kicking? Ballistic missile defence policy under Obama”, University of Birmingham , Social Science Graduate Colloquium, (19th February 2010)

Futter, A (2009), “The domestic souces of US missile defence policy”, presented at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), at Potsdam, Germany, on 10-12th September

Futter, A (2009) “The domestic sources of US Ballistic missile defence policy”, BISA US Foreign Policy Working Group conference, University of East Anglia, Norwich, 17-18th September

Futter, A (2009), “The evolution of US missile defence policy”, presented to postgraduate departmental colloquium, University of Birmingham, 4th March

Invited talks 

Futter, A (2011), “How America learned to stop worrying and love missile defence (and what this means for strategic stability)”, paper presented at The Centre for Science & Security, Kings College London, (31st October 2011)".


  • Peer reviewed articles

Futter, A & Zala, B (2011) "Advanced US conventional weapons and nuclear disarmament: why the Obama plan wont work", under review at International Affairs

Futter, A (2011 forthcoming) "NATO, missile defence and the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe", European Security

Futter, A (2011) ,“The elephant in the room: US ballistic missile defence is thriving under Barack Obama”, Defense & Security Analysis, (forthcoming)

Futter, A, (2011), “Getting the Balance Right: Ballistic Missile Defence and Nuclear Nonproliferation”, Comparative Strategy, 30:3 pp254-267

Futter, A and Dunn, D (2010), “Reevaluating the US troop surge in Iraq” Defence Studies, 10:1-2 pp196-215

  • Working Papers

Futter, A (2010) “Sensitive rationalization or overlooked expansion? Obama’s new missile defence plan for Europe”, BASIC Getting to Zero Papers, No13 (1st March 2010),

  • Professional Publications

Futter, A (2011) "The implications of a deliverable North Korean nuclear weapon",, (24th March 2011)

Futter, A (2010) “US-Europe analysis: what now for NATO’s nukes?”, Enduring America, 12 November 2010.

Futter, A (2010) “Regardless of New START, Obama is likely to limit US Missile Defence”, World Politics Review, (15th September 2010)

Futter, A, (2010), “U.S. must prioritize BMD cooperation with Russia”, World Politics Review, (2nd July 2010),

Futter, A, (2010), “Why the latest US-Russian arms control agreement is only a START”, Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation, (June 2010),

Futter, A (2010) “A new approach to missile defence in Europe: Demystifying the end of the third site”, Oxford Research Group, (24th February 2010)

Futter, A and Dunn, D (2009) “A job well done? Basra province after the British withdrawal”, World Defence Systems, 12:2

Futter, A (2009) “A strategic conundrum: why Obama will continue a policy that makes the reduction of nuclear weapons harder”, Argentia, 3:1

Futter, A and Dunn, D (2009), “Where now for ballistic missile defence: opportunities and constraints for the Obama administration”, World Defence Systems, 12:1 pp119-122

I have also published numerous book reviews in International Affairs, Millennium and Political Studies Review