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'SDI Makes Moral Sense'

March 08, 1987

I protest John Coffey's use of just-war theory (Editorial Pages, Feb. 25), "SDI Makes Moral Sense, Too," to justify our nation's pursuit of the Strategic Defense Initiative. I understand jus ad bellum , jus in bello , proportionality, discrimination, etc., but to use these as moral arguments in support of SDI is preposterous.

Coffey's claims that SDI technology is simply "defensive" and that it is "non-nuclear" are untrue. On the contrary, SDI, with its nuclear components, can be used offensively.

Secondly, Coffey missed an essential point in the U.S. Catholic Bishops' pastoral letter on nuclear war: namely, that no previously conceived moral position (including just-war theory) suffices in the Nuclear Age. A new appraisal is needed.

Furthermore, Coffey fails to mention how SDI escalates the whole arms race, as we are currently seeing in the reconsideration of the ABM treaty. SDI triggers countermeasures by the Soviets. Rather than moving the world toward progressive disarmament, SDI thrusts us in the opposite direction.

Lastly, Coffey speaks of the principle of proportionality in respect to acts of war. I invoke this principle relative to the exorbitant amounts of money our country spends on the military. What about the poor?

According to the U.S. Bishops' recent pastoral letter on the economy, poverty in the United States is increasing. "More than 33 million Americans are poor . . . Another 20 to 30 million are needy." And "Half the world's people, nearly 2 1/2 billion, live in countries where the annual per capita income is $400 or less. At least 800 million people in those countries live in absolute poverty."

When this is so, how can our government spend billions for a weapons system that may not even work?

In conclusion, let's not be fooled by Coffey's misapplication of moral principles, and let us consider the broader ramifications of supporting SDI. Do we really want to do this? I, for one, don't.

DOLORES BARLING SNJM

Alhambra

Sister Dolores is a member of the Peace and Justice Center of Southern California.

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