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'Weapons in Space'

January 06, 1985

I was disappointed by your inaccurate (albeit articulate) editorial attack (Dec. 26), "Weapons in Space," on President Reagan's "Star Wars" proposal. This proposal is one that would move us from the fear-based doctrine of mutual assured destruction (holding our cities hostage to nuclear attack) to one that stresses positive efforts to use our technological superiority to neutralize the arms race.

You imply that the technology for this space-based ballistic missile defense is generations away; yet many experts insist that we have the technology now or that it is a few short years away. Even the laser technology, which is one of the more spectacular aspects of the system, should be operational in the late '90s--hardly generations away.

As for Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger's retreat from a "missile-proof umbrella," for those of us who have supported a space-based defense from its inception (that is prior to President Reagan's adoption of it in 1983) this is not a retreat at all but the acknowledgment of what we have been saying all along.

As it was initially proposed by Gen. Daniel Graham and the Heritage Foundation, this space-based defense was not intended to be an impenetrable shield but rather a shield that would effectively knock down a great many Soviet missiles should they ever launch a first-strike, as well as, protect us from lunatics like Col. Moammar Kadafi of Libya, who in a short time could have nuclear weapons, and from the ever-present possibility of missiles launched due to a computer error.

Rather than "a prayer that the country might get lucky," this space-based defense is the best idea to come along since the beginning of the Nuclear Age. One need only note how vehemently the Soviets are attacking the proposal to see exactly how good an idea it really is. The Soviets don't engage in so heavy a propaganda barrage on something that does not threaten their military superiority.

As an American, I am strongly opposed to using this technology as grist for the mill of the arms-control process that never benefits anyone but the Soviets. By all means let us reduce offensive weapons, but let us also understand the Realpolitik of our Soviet neighbors. We naively gave away our military superiority in the SALT process; let's not give away what could be our final hope to end the arms race peacefully.

MARK L. CHALLENGER Malibu

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