As the public grows more alarmed about the deficit and the trade balance, it might be useful for all of us to weigh the costs of our President's Strategic Defense Initiative.
The staggering cost of $3.7 billion a year is only a down payment on the hundreds of billions of dollars the system would eventually devour. It would mean the loss of the most significant treaty now in existence, the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty of 1972. It would mean an unprecedented buildup of Soviet offensive missiles.
In terms of peace and stability, it would mean a long period of the ever-looming danger of a preemptive first strike by the Soviets. Even the most optimistic "Star Wars" supporters concede that a perfect defense is impossible. In a massive attack with a system 95% effective, enough nuclear warheads could still penetrate a defensive shield to destroy all the major cities in the United States.
In addition, a space-based missile defense would still leave us vulnerable to the horror of the nuclear weapons that could be delivered by cruise missiles, submarine-launched missiles or terrorists bombs.
Shouldn't we ask ourselves if we can afford such a dubious and flawed scheme?