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Congressional Action on SDI

September 08, 1986

The congressional rejection of the President's budget request for the Strategic Defense Initiative (at least his full amount) not only harms the defense posture of this country but also belies the intellectual ineptitude of those who put faith in Soviet intentions as per arms control.

The reasons for rejection of the $5-billion request were stated as practicality; disbelief in the eventual workability of the system and two, granting full research funding would harm the chances of achieving some sort of arms control package. Both these objections possess serious flaws.

To begin with, the initial argument concerning doubt about the system's chances for successful implementation fails to accurately note the historical record. One could have conceivably argued that production of an atomic bomb would have taken many more years than were actually required by the Manhattan Project.

Even though the scientific processes concerning the nature of atomic chain reactions were understood prior to World War II, the construction of the bomb, with its concomitant need for massive industrial expenditures, was something that would have seemed to take far more than four years. However, with the technical commitment of scientific and industrial minds, the realization of its production was achieved in a very short time span indeed.

In much the same way, those who argue that our technology cannot produce a viable defensive non-nuclear system (such as many in Congress apparently believe) are wedding themselves to disbelief in absence of a clear understanding of what can be achieved with serious commitment.

The second objection is a much more seriously flawed. How do reasonable people assume that the Soviet Union, with 60-plus years of lies and subterfuge evidenced on the historical ledger, can be trusted with regard to arms control?

If the advocates of arms control, in both houses of Congress and the general public, come squarely up against reality, then arms control is seen for what it really has represented over the past several decades: an attempt by a free nation to surrender its means of defending itself, and the rest of the free world, against the aggressive intentions of a foe whose stated purpose is the destruction of what we stand for.

For this reason SDI must remain fully funded and must continue to be explored as an eventual cornerstone of our military policy.

GEORGE BOWLER

Long Beach

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