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Weinberger Says Defense Cuts Could Leave a 'Hollow Strategy'

July 30, 1986|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger warned Tuesday that the United States faces a "hollow strategy" in the future because of declines in the growth of military spending.

"We must rid ourselves of the belief that grand statements of purposes and goals will accomplish anything if they are not coupled with a sustained commitment to adequate resources for defense," Weinberger said.

Weinberger's remarks at a two-day conference of the National War College hammered on often-repeated twin themes: the necessity to maintain record levels of spending for the Administration's rearmament program and for research into a "Star Wars" anti-missile defense.

Cites Poll on Military

He departed from those themes to declare that the legacy of bitterness of the Vietnam War has been overcome, taking his cue from a recent poll showing that 57% of the public expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the military.

Weinberger was so impressed with the findings, published by a blue ribbon presidential commission on defense management, that he brought it to President Reagan's attention, a spokesman said.

In his speech, the Pentagon chief said that despite the Vietnam War, the nation's strategic goals have always received bipartisan support.

He listed those goals as "deterrence of war, containment of Soviet aggression and of their totalitarian system, defense of freedom where it exists" and the promotion of conditions to foster liberty worldwide.

"Despite the self-destructive--and now happily concluded--post-Vietnam era, there has remained a bipartisan consensus on these goals," he said.

But, Weinberger said, the decline in real growth of this year's defense budget and congressional cutbacks in proposed military spending for next year threaten to undermine the Administration's strategy of confronting the Soviets worldwide while pledging billions of dollars annually to the Strategic Defense Initiative, known as "Star Wars."

Totalitarian Comparisons

"Totalitarian regimes are capable of . . . carrying out long-term ideological strategies," Weinberger said.

"We are facing the prospect of a hollow strategy in which commitments outstrip capabilities," he said.

"The first task of American strategy, as it looks to the future of conflict, is to ensure that deterrence of nuclear war remains credible," Weinberger said. "Strategic defense research is no mere add-on to American strategy.

"Star Wars," he added, "is a program made for Yankee ingenuity."

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