Arms Control and Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Policies and the National Interest

By W. Gray Nichols; Milton L. Boykin | Go to book overview

3

An Analysis of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)

Molly Ravenel

One of my long-held beliefs and the reason that I am an active member on the governing board of Common Cause is my conviction that the average citizen has the ability to be involved effectively in public policy questions. So often we feel that something highly technical like this—the business of arms control, the business of advances and increases in technology in weapons systems—is not understandable by an ordinary person. You have to know all your facts or you can't deal with it. I hope that you will agree with me that the subject is overwhelming only in its implications but not in the sense that it is incomprehensible. I write in this vein as a citizen, a concerned citizen, who has trust in our mutual common sense.


THE FEASIBILITY OF SDI

There are many who would argue with Ambassador Adelman about the Strategic Defense Initiative. We need to address ourselves first to the feasibility of developing this system. Then we need to consider whether such an initiative might be interpreted as another round in the arms race which could be counter-productive to serious arms talk.

To begin with, there is the problem of what might be called “seductive labelling.” The claim made by the President, a little less so by others, is that SDI would possibly render nuclear weapons obsolete. For that claim to be valid, we need to remember that as long as a few weapons get through, we would have an unacceptable level of destruction.

Assuming the system is leak-proof, would it be helpful to the situation? Mr. Adelman, in his paper, suggests that it would create uncertainty for the Russians and lessen their ability to trust their offensive system; but does uncertainty really help to create stability and lead to the kind of trust that General Seignious talked about in the Introduction to this book as necessary for productive arms control

-19-

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