Commentary Magazine


SDI

To the Editor:

Angelo M. Codevilla’s excellent article, “How SDI Is Being Undone From Within” [May], demonstrates how President Reagan’s priority program for defending the United States from Soviet attack is being smothered not only by some in Congress but by bureaucrats within his own administration.

Clearly there are important questions concerning alternative technologies and cost-benefit tradeoffs which must be addressed before the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) is ready for deployment. As Mr. Codevilla points out, the Fletcher panel stipulated a multilayered system designed to reach 99.75 percent effectiveness against an incoming force of all existing Soviet missiles. But why must we wait until we can construct a defensive system that provides near 100 percent assurance that every incoming missile can be neutralized? Strategically, all that is needed is a defense which can deflect a large enough number of attacking missiles to render the success of a first strike too uncertain to launch. In other words, any defensive system that dissuades an enemy from attacking is by definition a perfect deterrent.

Last year when the House debated research funding levels for SDI, one of my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee made the astonishing assertion that “the best defense is no defense.” Not one liberal member of the House bothered to disagree with him. It seems strange that the effort to undo SDI within this conservative administration dovetails with the aims of many liberals in Congress who silently believe what my radical colleague was so candid as to state publicly. This unwholesome anti-defense alliance of factions on the Left and Right points to a much deeper policy issue: the relative merits of containment versus liberation.

The Reagan Doctrine tacitly rejects containment as an insufficient response to Soviet adventurism. This administration, in my judgment, is the first elected by the American people with a mandate to reverse the Soviet gains of the postwar years. The eventual deployment of SDI is an essential part of the new American geopolitical strategy. Both sides in the anti-strategic-defense alliance realize that by checking the paralyzing Soviet nuclear threat, SDI revives the possibility of contesting regions of the world now dominated by Soviet despotism and restoring democratic freedoms which are the heritage of human beings everywhere—and this is precisely what many on the Left along with some self-styled “realists” on the Right wish to avoid.

In its pursuit of globalist imperatives, the Soviet Union has not only built an enormous arsenal of offensive nuclear weapons; it is also researching and developing defensive systems. As one example, the Krasnoyarsk radar—illegal under the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty—seems intended for battle-management operations under a strategic-defense system. Every day the United States defers the decision to develop and deploy a defensive system against Soviet offensive weapons, we are weaker than we were the day before. We dare not leave the field of defensive systems to the world’s only remaining imperialist power.

President Reagan understands the need to develop and deploy SDI as swiftly as possible. It is regrettable that those who support his pro-defense position find themselves fighting not just the Left in Congress and the Soviets’ global disinformation campaign, but the bureaucracy within the administration as well.

Jim Courter
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

_____________

 

To the Editor:

Once more, COMMENTARY rings the alarm bells warning the nation of the continuing “present danger.” The most recent distress signal is “How SDI Is Being Undone From Within,” by Angelo M. Codevilla. This article reveals how the great promise of a defensive system to protect the nation from a Soviet first strike, announced by the President in his March 23, 1983 speech launching SDI, has been profoundly jeopardized by over three years of inaction. During this time, SDI has been transmogrified by bureaucrats and technicians into a pure “research” program extending into the indefinite future while the Soviet threat continues to grow. Worse still, nothing is being proposed to keep the gap from widening nor, as Mr. Codevilla warns, “will anything change until we resolve to do what we can, with what we have—now.”

As he makes clear, the greatest obstacle to the achievement of a defensive system is the ABM Treaty of 1972. Indeed, the treaty is guaranteed to strangle SDI at birth. The Soviets, keenly aware of our self-imposed paralysis, have foxily tailored their offer to reduce offensive nuclear weapons by making it dependent on our agreement to continue the treaty “for 15 or 20 years,” thus assuring a defenseless U.S. for at least that period. And, incredibly, the President has been persuaded to talk about the need “to restore the integrity of the ABM Treaty”! Instead of concentrating his fire on SALT II, he would have been far better advised to threaten cancellation of the ABM Treaty on six-months’ notice, as specifically permitted in Article XV, because of egregious Soviet violations. This would allow the nation to proceed with SDI free of the restrictions of the treaty.

The 1972 negotiations, which led to SALT I and the ABM Treaty, and initiated the era of “détente,” sanctified and institutionalized the doctrine of purely offensive deterrence. The ABM Treaty forbade all defensive responses (other than an insignificant 100 ABM’s) in the confident expectation that the mere threat of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) would deter a potential aggressor from initiating a nuclear attack and that, consequently, the treaty would lead to progressive nuclear and general disarmament. This hope and intention were solemnly inscribed in the preamble: “Declaring their intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to take effective measures toward reductions in strategic arms, nuclear disarmament, and general and complete disarmament. . . .” This expectation turned out to be the grand illusion of our nuclear era.

In practice, the ABM Treaty became the principal means by which the Soviet Union (which never accepted the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction) achieved nuclear offensive superiority. Reassured that the U.S. would not deploy a defensive shield for its deterrent ICBM’s, the Soviets, under cover of the treaty, adopted a war-winning strategy, exemplified by a massive build-up of their monstrous preemptive first-strike weapons: the SS-18′s and SS-19′s (and, recently, the new SS-24′s and SS-25′s) directed against the U.S. and the SS-20′s against Europe. This build-up was far in excess of any defense requirements; it not only gave the Soviets a 3-to-1 advantage in counterforce warheads but also the capacity to destroy our retaliatory missiles and strategic assets in a first strike. Thus, by a supreme irony, the ABM Treaty served to undermine, rather than reinforce, the doctrine of MAD.

Significantly, the U.S. delegation, headed by Ambassador Gerard C. Smith, appended the following statements of intention to the 1972 ABM Treaty:

Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. On May 9, 1972, Ambassador Smith made the following statement: “The U.S. delegation has stressed the importance the U.S. government attaches to achieving agreement on more complete limitations of strategic offensive arms. . . . The U.S. delegation believes that an objective of the follow-on negotiations should be to constrain and reduce on a long-term basis threats to the survivability of our respective strategic retaliatory forces. . . . If an agreement providing for more complete strategic offensive arms limitations were not achieved within five years, U.S. supreme interests would be jeopardized. Should that occur, it would constitute a basis for withdrawal from the ABM Treaty.” [Emphasis added]

Clearly, the premises for such a decision already exist. The unceasing build-up by the Soviet Union of its offensive counterforce missiles clearly constitutes a “threat to the survivability of [our] strategic retaliatory forces” and would alone justify termination. In addition, the Soviets are violating specific prohibitions—as in the construction of the illegal radar-array unit in an ABM mode at Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia; in the encryption of weapons tests; and in adapting some anti-aircraft units for potential ABM use.

How, then, should we proceed “now,” as urged by Mr. Codevilla? It is crystal clear that unless the obstacle of the ABM Treaty is removed (“interpretation” is a futile evasion), it will be impossible to devise and deploy the defensive shield envisioned by SDI. This reality must be squarely faced. As I have shown, the premises for terminating the treaty already exist. What must be done now is to devise a strategy for effectively linking the treaty’s termination with the Geneva arms-reduction negotiations so as to achieve both sharp reductions in offensive arms and a defensive shield.

Space-based ABM systems are more than a decade of research and development away, but working land-based ABM systems have been developed and improved for decades by both the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Under the treaty, fixed land-based ABM’s (as distinguished from space-based systems) may be developed, manufactured, and stored without limit, but only 100 may be deployed by each side. The Soviets have deployed their permitted 100 ABM’s to protect Moscow, while we foolishly dismantled all our deployed ABM’s.

However, in June 1983, in a renewed effort to revive a land-based ABM defense, the U.S. successfully tested a land-based ABM system employing a revolutionary new non-nuclear technology. This ABM unit tracked a dummy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) fired from a western Pacific island and hit and destroyed it at a distance of 100 miles from target, a remarkable feat that is equivalent to hitting a bullet in space with another bullet. This successful test confirmed the feasibility of an effective “site” or “point” defense of our land-based strategic missiles (including the MX) and of our other strategic assets which would be the objectives of a Soviet first strike: command, control, and communication centers (C3), nuclear submarine bases, and B-52 air bases. When fully deployed, the ABM’s will be able to ensure the survival after a Soviet first strike of enough weapons to inflict unacceptable damage on vital Soviet strategic assets. Deployment can begin within three to four years. In the meantime, off-the-shelf units of earlier models can be deployed almost at once.

What should be the central U.S. objective in negotiating with the Soviets? It should be twofold. First, mutual reduction of all types of strategic offensive weapons having a first-strike capability. This reduction should be carried out in agreed stages with the object of reaching a level below that at which either side could rationally contemplate a successful first strike. The second objective should be to persuade the Soviets to accept the doctrine of strategic defense in principle (they have been working at it for years) as mutually beneficial and to agree to amendments of the ABM Treaty.

As a first step toward an assertive strategic-defense posture, the tested land-based ABM system, which is ready for development and early deployment, must be decoupled from space-based defense in the public mind and at the Geneva conference. We must not allow its deployment to be the subject of negotiation. Instead, we must proceed full speed ahead to early deployment.

To achieve this, we should propose that the Soviets agree to amend the treaty to permit unrestricted deployment by both parties of land-based ABM’s for point defense. However, should they refuse, we should inform them that it is our intention to terminate the treaty on six-months’ notice, freeing us to proceed with the entire SDI program.

A further advantage of this approach is that our determination to proceed with our land-based ABM system (to begin with) in effect gives us a self-service, automatic arms control which assures the survival of a sufficient number of retaliatory missiles to provide a strategic defense, independent of the results of negotiation. By the same token, it is a litmus test of the Soviets’ intentions. Their refusal to accept our offer would transform our strong belief in Soviet first-strike strategy into certainty. The Soviets, faced with this bleak alternative as well as with their endemic economic and technological weakness, might possibly agree to explore this path. If we hold fast, they might decide they have more to lose by stonewalling. The choice will be for them to make.

The ideas advanced above were more fully developed in my article, “Negotiating With the Russians: Geneva Prospects,” Freedom at Issue (Freedom House), May-June 1985.

One correction of Mr. Codevilla. As I pointed out in my reply to the correspondence on my article (Freedom at Issue, September-October 1985), Zbigniew Brzezinski did not, in his July 8, 1985 article in the New Republic, unconditionally propose that we proceed with our own point defense. To the contrary, he proposed that in exchange for the Soviets’ agreeing to significant reductions in offensive nuclear forces, the U.S. should agree to refrain from deploying SDI—thus falling right into Gorbachev’s trap. I was pleased to see (according to the New York Times, June 17, 1986) that Brzezinski’s new book abandons this position and adopts instead the view of the need both to terminate the ABM Treaty and to proceed at once with point defense.

Once more, bravo to COMMENTARY and to Mr. Codevilla for ringing the alarm bells.

Elias M. Schwarzbart
New York City

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To the Editor:

Angelo M. Codevilla, in his article on SDI and also in his . . . review of a history of space politics [The Heavens and the Earth, by Walter McDougall, Books in Review, April], has conjured a mythical past and a paranoid present. Only some horrid obsession can explain some 90 errors of uncontested fact in both pieces; readers should be assured that, contrary to Mr. Codevilla’s fantasies:

  • The U.S. has been steadily bolstering its strategic offensive arsenal since 1970, specifically: Minuteman III, Poseidon, and SRAM missiles ordered deployed by Robert McNamara; Trident, MX, and assorted cruise missiles resulting from research and development also ordered by . . . McNamara.
  • Minuteman III, MX, and Trident have or will have “counter-force” capability against Soviet missiles. No sane person shares Mr. Codevilla’s delusion that 200 MX missiles with 2,000 highly accurate warheads would not be strategically significant.
  • Soviet air and ballistic-missile defenses are no more than an annoyance to our offensive planners, thanks to multiple warheads and improvements in warhead design, guidance systems, electronic countermeasures, and “penetration aids” ordered by or resulting from research sponsored by McNamara, and continuously being improved by the knaves and churls of the military-industrial complex disdained by Mr. Codevilla.
  • For forty-five years the U.S. has had a continental air defense, currently being bolstered according to plans laid down by Harold Brown, . . . although the Pentagon is less concerned about attack by a Soviet “cargo plane” than by some 2,000-plus Soviet ballistic missiles.
  • The U.S. has no active missile defenses today because the anti-ballistic-missile complex begun by McNamara in 1967 was destroyed after he and his colleagues left office. ABM was done in by a combination of domestic political factors, lack of technological confidence, and cost—not by puerile ideology. . . .

Refuting Mr. Codevilla’s deluded SDI conspiracy would be wearisome and imprudent, but it can be remarked that those folk who know about rockets, satellites, warheads, radars, lasers, optical sensors, and computers—because they have invented, developed, evaluated, produced, and operated them—also know that credibly reducing the fear of missile attack can be at best only marginally achieved at extraordinary cost in the short- and medium-run future by use of fields of radars and clouds of nuclear-armed interceptors. In the long term, more options may be open, so the present program is really an “Accelerated Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Technologies Research Initiative,” which is precisely what it must be.

To be sure, intercepting attacks on land-based missiles is far less demanding, and appropriate technology has existed for a generation. But defense by fortification and mobility has not been exhausted; if and when it is, plans exist to repair the shortfall rapidly. . . .

In the non-fantasy world, nations have limited resources. The military has the special problem of deciding how much to spend on weapons and equipment to use today, how much for development for production for use in five years, and how much for research for possible development ten years to a generation ahead.

Consider also the problems consequent on knowing that any decision to order development may result in production of equipment made obsolete by further research before it enters service, not to mention the necessary ignorance of the other side’s intentions and capabilities in the future. In the 1950′s, tens of billions of dollars were wasted in panic production of offensive and defensive systems before proper development had been done—we do a little better today. . . .

Thousands of energetic scientists and engineers have bright ideas about what should be developed. The frequent studies and committees scorned by Mr. Codevilla are needed to share information and build consensus in order to recommend priorities to public officials who have little or no technological background upon which to base decisions. . . .

B. Bruce-Briggs
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

_____________

 

Angelo M. Codevilla writes:

I was heartened by Barry Bruce-Briggs’s promise to show me where I had committed “some 90 errors.” But he never points to a single one, much less makes a case. Instead, he puffs smoke. Let us look more closely.

I don’t think I could have made it clearer that everything in our strategic arsenal today was conceived, if not actually ordered, in the days of Robert McNamara. But Mr. Bruce-Briggs’s sentence, “Minuteman III, MX, and Trident have or will have ‘counterforce’ capability against Soviet missiles” is deceptive because it insinuates that counterforce was McNamara’s strategy. The truth is precisely the opposite. Minuteman III, even with the Mark 12A warhead and the NS-20 guidance system that Senators Mondale and McGovern, along with McNamara, strongly argued against, has at best a one-in-three chance of destroying a standard 7200-psi Soviet silo. Trident I has perhaps a one-in-ten chance. These are our current weapons. Trident II, which may be with us in 1992, is much better. So is MX. But is McNamara, or Mr. Bruce-Briggs, or Ronald Reagan, or anybody else for that matter, proposing to build enough of these missiles—and to provide adequately for their safety—for us to think of engaging the Soviets in an offensive counterforce duel? No. De facto, we are conceding to the Soviets the unilateral capacity for a serious counterforce strike.

Mr. Bruce-Briggs’s criterion for sanity seems to amount to faith in 2,000 MX warheads. (Note that President Reagan has proposed 1,000 and has accepted 400-500.) It is obvious that 2,000 such warheads, if the U.S. were able to direct them against Soviet reserve forces, would be strategically significant—though not as significant as 6,000 such warheads on the other side. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Does anyone propose doing the only thing that would make MX survivable, i.e., putting it on railroad cars and keeping it in motion? No.

But assume for the sake of argument that we could have 2,000 survivable MX warheads. We should realize that while people in and around the U.S. military establishment have been dithering away years, the Soviets have used those years to change the reality over which these people dither. Harold Brown thought that 2,000 MX warheads would be useful for threatening Soviet reserve strategic forces because he assumed that we would know where such forces were. This assumption, correct in the late 1970′s, has turned out to be as fanciful as is the SALT process on which it was based. Today, the Soviet mobile SS-24 and SS-25 missiles ensure that we will not know the whereabouts of Soviet reserve forces. To change this, we would have wholly to revamp our approach to technical-intelligence collection, which still rests on the strategic assumptions of the 1960′s. But there is no budgetary commitment for such revamping; quite the contrary. Nor, of course, have we made plans automatically to translate information on mobile strategic targets into updates for missile-guidance systems. All of this is to say that Mr. Bruce-Briggs does not know what he is talking about.

The statement, “Soviet air and ballistic-missile defenses are no more than an annoyance to our offensive planners,” is ignorant. Ask any B-52 pilot about his chances of penetrating the Soviet air-defense system! Why is the U.S. converting its B-52′s to expensive, weight-inefficient, air-launched cruise missiles if not because we realize that the Soviet air-defense system has made gravity-bombing obsolete? Why have we stopped production of our first-generation cruise missiles, and why are we now waiting for ones with lower radar cross-sections, if not because of the Soviet air-defense system? And will anyone come close to guaranteeing that the best of these cruise missiles will hit a target protected by a Soviet SA-10? No.

As for the Soviet ballistic-missile-defense (BMD) system, I would be fascinated to hear how Mr. Bruce-Briggs would suggest targeting the U.S. missile force remaining after a Soviet first strike against a Soviet Union that possessed 1,000 firing units of the SA-12. U.S. strategic planners must deal not just with the prospect of that many SA-12′s, but also with the unknown numbers of Flat Twin radars and SH-4 and SH-8 missiles now coming off Soviet production lines. Later in this decade the planners will have to deal with the unknown capacity of a Soviet high-energy laser in orbit. Some “annoyance”!

The statement, “For forty-five years the U.S. has had a continental air defense currently being bolstered according to plans laid down by Harold Brown,” can only be the product of hallucination. Just consider surface-to-air missiles: Soviet Union, about 12,000; U.S., zero. Number of SAM’s as a result of what Mr. Bruce-Briggs calls “bolstering,” zero. That cargo planes could bomb the U.S. is shown by the huge illicit air traffic that supplies the huge U.S. market for drugs.

Mr. Bruce-Briggs gratuitously lays claim to being among those who “know” about rockets, satellites, etc. But in fact he displays only pretentious ignorance. Unlike many of those connected with SDI, I do not deny that nuclear-armed interceptors can be useful, especially to clear out exo-atmospheric decoys. But when Mr. Bruce-Briggs writes as if there were nothing available against ballistic missiles but nuclear-armed interceptors, he shows a mind that has stopped working. When he writes that “plans exist to repair the shortfall [in missile vulnerability] rapidly,” he is saying something he is in a position to know is false.

His credentials thus established, Mr. Bruce-Briggs delivers his message: Don’t build anti-missile defenses because “any decision to order development may result in production of equipment made obsolete by further research. . . .” But such obsolescence is not just a possibility. It is a certainty. All one ever gains by building new weaponry, offensive or defensive, is time—the only question being, how much? That is why the American people were well-served by the U.S. government’s hasty expenditure in the 1950′s of $200 billion (in 1980 dollars) on an air-defense system and as much on B-52′s that still fly today. By contrast, the Pentagon’s current procrastination makes certain that anything we do will be too little, too late. I cannot imagine that competent Pentagonians, including Harold Brown, would be happy to have the case for their position reduced to Mr. Bruce-Briggs’s terms.

Congressman Jim Courter makes three interesting points. First, a defense works perfectly not when it can guarantee that absolutely no part of absolutely everything the enemy could conceivably throw against it would stand any chance of getting through. Rather, it works perfectly when it convinces the enemy that enough of his effort might be soaked up to render that avenue of attack unreasonable. But the Congressman must know from bitter experience that such arguments, based as they are on common sense, are out of fashion in a defense establishment (including the Armed Services Committees of the Congress) that lives by quantitative “studies” which purport to simulate all facets of reality. This self-deceptive subculture demands guarantees sealed by panels that have defined parameters which then get revalidated in tautological simulations. One can only wish him good luck in exposing how this robs the American people of both dollars and security.

Second, Congressman Courter points out that conservatives who prefer studies on a “never-never” comprehensive astroshield to individual defensive weapons we can build now—Secretary of Defense Weinberger comes immediately to mind—“dovetail” perfectly with liberals who believe that “the best defense is no defense.” Because both deal in utopian coin, each is a mirror image of the other.

Third and most intriguing is Congressman Courter’s suggestion that many in our national-security bureaucracy, liberals and conservative “realists” alike, do not want the U.S. covered by a ballistic-missile defense because if we were so covered, we could resume the discussion, rudely interrupted circa 1968, about our role in the world. It is undeniable that our national-security bureaucracy is deeply comfortable in its present ruts, and that its interest in remaining in them is as great as the rest of the country’s interest in breaking out of those ruts.

Elias M. Schwarzbart rightly asks, “What now?” and points to the need to clear the minds of U.S. policy-makers and military planners of that potent cause of delusion, the ABM Treaty. Indeed, this country would have been better served had President Reagan rid us of the ABM Treaty rather than of SALT II. It is heartening to see, however, that more and more thoughtful people—including Zbigniew Brzezinski, in his latest writings—recognize that the ABM Treaty must go. By contrast, those Americans who negotiated the ABM Treaty, who bravely told the American people that we would withdraw from it if the Soviets tried to achieve a counterforce capability, and who now urge us to abide by it despite the Soviets’ counterforce capability, growing anti-missile defenses, and violations, have thereby proved themselves bankrupt. The truth is that they were, and continue to be, interested primarily in shaping U.S. policy according to their private dreams. I would argue, pace Mr. Schwarzbart, that interpretation of the ABM Treaty can be useful, but only to show how empty the treaty always was of tools for constraining any country that wants anti-missile protection. In fact, as the Soviets are showing, it is entirely possible to build an excellent nationwide anti-missile system largely within the letter of the treaty.

This brings me to an important point: Mr. Schwarzbart says we should “persuade the Soviets to accept the doctrine of strategic defense in principle”—as mutually beneficial. But the Soviet do accept that strategic defense is very valuable. The trouble is that our own government, rhetoric aside, does not.

The key to our domestic argument is clarity about what practical measures we can take to defend ourselves. Let us not fall into the trap of believing that defending ballistic missiles and other military assets is easier than, and should take precedence over, protecting people. In fact, strategic assets whose location the enemy knows are most difficult to defend because they—not cities—would be targeted by large numbers of warheads and decoys. The best protection for these assets is unpredictable mobility, in the company of mobile ABM’s based on our Aegis surface-to-air missile system. We could and should produce many firing units of this mobile weapon, the mere existence of which would force the Soviets to face the possibility that any object they had counted on destroying with one or two warheads might be protected enough to require dozens. Large numbers of such mobile defensive weapons would provide valuable insurance for millions of Americans who rank much lower in the Soviet targeting priorities.

We also could and should build large numbers of the new ARIS high-altitude interceptor rocket and refurbish our radar complex at Grand Forks, North Dakota, to guide them, and build the Army’s airborne-optical data processor to help with discrimination. This would allow us to thin out any attack, increase the chances that our modified Aegis could protect any given object, and decrease the chances that the Soviets would want to invest much in an increasingly risky enterprise.

Above all, we should build a fleet of space-based chemical-laser weapons according to the plans first worked out at the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) in 1980 and 1981. Let us not forget that it was the prospect of such weapons that first raised interest in what is now called “Star Wars.” Despite all the bluster and the billions since 1983, the space-based chemical laser is still the only weapon for boost-phase protection against ballistic missiles that we know how to build right now. Today, as in 1981, no knowledgeable person denies that such lasers could kill any missile booster ever built in about a second at distances up to 3,000 km. We have wasted five years. By now the first copy could have been in orbit.

Unfortunately, but all too predictably, we are about to deliver up yet more years for the locusts to eat. By mid-summer the Senate will most likely have approved an amendment to freeze SDI’s funds and to restrict it to research. The reasoning behind this move is laid out in a staff report to Senators Proxmire and Johnston: the SDI office has developed definitions of the “threat” and of the requirements for meeting that threat which are beyond the capacity of the defensive technologies SDI is working on. Therefore, a comprehensive defense against ballistic missiles, as the SDI office itself has defined such a defense, is worthy of no more than long-range research.

Alas, all of this was foreseeable—and foreseen—when the Fletcher panel prescribed that SDI should not deal with the real threat posed by current Soviet forces, with such modification to those forces as intelligence could discover, but rather with a threat defined by our imagination, and when the Fletcher panel established a series of unrealistic requirements for our own defenses. For the past three years SDI has followed the path traced for it by the Fletcher panel, and has now come to its preordained dead end.

If this country is fortunate, the administration will have learned from its mistakes, and will ask a new panel of engineers a question very different from the one it asked three years ago—namely, given the technology on the shelf and on the near horizon, what can we do to defend ourselves againt what the Soviets have or are about to acquire? As I have tried to sketch very briefly above, the answer to this question is not so terribly difficult to formulate.

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