Sybert's response to Scheer's report on the Strategic Defense Initiative contains absolutely no facts to refute Scheer's research. In the manner typical of the Reagan Administration, Sybert offers a counterstatement long on rhetoric and short on substance.
In particular, Sybert attempts to rebut three major criticisms: (1) SDI is ill thought-out; (2) SDI won't work; (3) SDI is harmful to arms control.
Sybert devotes five paragraphs of his letter in an attempt to prove that SDI is an organized, carefully directed program. These paragraphs inform us that the Reagan Administration has formed two committees, one of which produced a seven-volume report. We are also told that President Reagan appointed an SDI director and a chief scientist. Does Sybert believe that his list of committees and appointments is proof of a carefully managed organization?
Sybert does not direct his rebuttal to the specific problems delineated by Scheer--namely, that President Reagan announced the SDI program without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State or Defense Departments; and that scientists and administrators who run the programs cannot decide exactly what they are doing.
To the many arms experts who say that SDI cannot work, Sybert writes that nobody is trying to claim that SDI will be 100% effective. However, neither Sybert or any other proponents have given us in return any figures on how effective SDI can be. Without offering a single specific example, Sybert says that there have been "many scientific breakthroughs" and that SDI can be effective if "it results in the possible survival of enough retaliatory capacity to deter a first strike."
The United States already has a retaliatory capacity in the form of thousands upon thousands of missiles aimed at the Soviet Union from every corner of our planet. Again, Sybert does not direct his rebuttal toward the specific charges made by leading U.S. arms experts against SDI's effectiveness. He offers no proof that SDI will work but instead surmises upon "what-if" situations. The present nuclear arms crisis is far too serious for "what-if" dreamers.
Finally, to the charge that SDI will harm arms control efforts, Sybert rather preposterously claims that SDI is "pro-arms control." It is typical of the Reagan Administration to claim that escalating the arms race will enable us to control it.
Sybert concludes his letter with a paragraph in which he states that "we are now on the threshold of a dream" and that "the issue is peace on Earth." This is the kind of rhetoric that President Reagan has been spewing upon the nation for 2 1/2 years in order to promote an expensive and (at best) leaky escalation of the arms race. Let us hope that President Reagan, Sybert, and the rest of the Administration wake up from their dreams in time to deal in the real world, a world in which all of humanity is held hostage by the ever-escalating standoff of violence and weaponry.