Reagan’s Star Wars Plan
Andropov doesn’t like President Reagan’s new plans to build a defensive anti-missile system to protect the United States. Neither does Ted Kennedy or Mark Hatfield or a bunch of liberal scientists.
But unless they come up with some better arguments than the hysterical, silly, and contradictory complaints they have used so far, they will continue to sound like they simply don’t want the United States to be defended against enemy attack.
Sniping that Reagan’s proposal is like “Star Wars” or “Buck Rogers” won’t score many points with the American people. Some of us belong to the generation that grew up waiting eagerly for each exciting installment of the Buck Rogers radio program, and our children belong to the generation that is infatuated with Star Wars.
Moscow charged that Reagan was “bellicose.” The Kremlin thinks anyone is bellicose who doesn’t roll over and play dead in the face of their advancing troops. The Afghans and the Poles are examples of other “bellicose” peoples.
An MIT scientist labelled Reagan’s proposal “extremely dangerous and destabilizing.” In the same breath, he admitted that, if the Soviets develop a missile defense first, “we would be completely defenseless.” Any logical person would come to the conclusion that, even if we don’t need or want a defensive system ourselves, we had better hurry up and develop one before the Soviets develop theirs.
A Stanford scientist called the Reagan plan “somewhat spiritually troubling.” There is no evidence that he is spiritually troubled by the threat to our freedom and independence from Soviet missiles.
Another scientist worries that Reagan’s proposal might be construed to be in violation of the SALT I Treaty. However, he doesn’t express any worries about the massive violations of the SALT I Treaty by the Russians.
Senator Mark 0. Hatfield said he was “deeply troubled” by Reagan’s “terrifying proposals” for defensive systems. One wonders why he is not deeply troubled by the terrifying Soviet weapons against which we have absolutely no defense.
No argument against Reagan’s anti-missile proposal makes any sense. How could anyone call “dangerous” a system that can’t kill anyone, and is designed simply to shoot down enemy missiles before they kill us?
If the Russians are upset by Reagan’s proposal, that must mean that they have some plans which Reagan’s ABM will frustrate. If that is so, then we should proceed fullspeed with Reagan’s plans; we have no time to waste.
Reagan’s proposal is like the local jewelry store putting in a burglar alarm system in addition to its armed guards. Anyone who objects to the burglar alarm system must be planning some actions that will be frustrated by the purely-defensive burglar alarm.
What Reagan’s critics are really alarmed about is that he has shown our nation how to avoid the gloom-and-doom future predicted by the freezenik fearmongers. We don’t have to live in a world in which offensive weapons face each other forever in a balance of terror, threatening mutual destruction.
Instead, American technology can lead us into a future in which “free people can live secure in the knowledge that our security does not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack; that we can intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reach our own soil or that of our allies.”
The world has always had naysayers who cry “it can’t be done.” America had scientists who told the Wright Brothers that heavier-than-air flight was impossible; and scientists who told President Roosevelt that splitting the atom was impossible. Fortunately, we have had other scientists whose vocabulary did not include the word “can’t.”
President Reagan offers the vision: “Is it not worth every investment necessary to free the world from the threat of nuclear war? We know it is.” He also presents the challenge: “I call upon the scientific ommunity who gave us nuclear weapons to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace; to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”
President Reagan offers our nation the choice: living in terror of nuclear war based on a strategy of retaliation and revenge, or living in freedom based on a strategy of rendering attacking nukes obsolete. In simpler terms, our choice is fear or freedom.
Myth of “Destabilizing” Defense
“The best offense is a good defense” would be a better slogan in the nuclear age than the version that is customarily heard in sports and war. In any event, it surely never occurred to anyone who uses “the best defense is a good offense version that defense might be completely omitted.
Any intelligent plan for winning a campaign includes both a strategy for defending your own goal line (the defense) plus a strategy for carrying the ball over your opponent’s goal line (the offense). Football teams even use a different set of players depending on whether or not they have possession of the ball.
The number-one problem between the United States and the Soviet Union is that, although we have an offense, we have no defense at all. We have weapons that can kill millions of Russians, but we have no means of preventing Russians from killing Americans.
A remarkable piece of jargon was devised to describe our defenseless condition: “Mutual Assured Destruction” (MAD). The doctrine of MAD, as codified by SALT (the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty of 1972), is based on the premise that both Russia and the United States must build only offensive nuclear weapons, capable of killing the maximum number of people, and must not build defensive weapons to shoot down the enemy’s offensive weapons.
This topsy-turvy doctrine says that defending one’s country from nuclear attack is “destabilizing,” while deploying the capability to inflict megadeaths on the enemy is a positive good.
Not only strategy experts but ordinary Republicans have been wanting to escape from the MAD-cum-SALT noose for years. The most spontaneous applause that erupted at the Republican National Convention in Detroitin 1980 was the line in the Republican Platform that promised to “reject the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) strategy of the Carter Administration which limits the President during crises to a Hobson’s choice between mass mutual suicide and surrender.” The Republican Platform then called for “a credible strategy” with “the clear capability of our forces to survive.”
Lt. General Daniel 0. Graham heads a group of engineers, scientists, and military men who are talking about “Mutual Assured Survival” instead of “Destruction.” They have developed a defensive antimissile system to protect Americans called “High Frontier.” This system can implement President Reagan’s vision of a nuclear-safe future with non-nuclear technology that is available today.
High Frontier is an innovative, all-defense, nonnuclear, space platform system which would deny the Soviets the possibility of ever destroying us with a nuclear strike. High Frontier would shift the “arms race” from one of killer weapons on earth (where we are only second-best) to one of space technology (where we are second to none).
High Frontier is a system of 432 satellites placed on 300-mile, 65-degree circular orbits which are capable of sensing and tracking Soviet long-range missiles (land or sea-based). After detection, High Frontier can direct on-board interceptor vehicles to kill the hostile missiles within the first seven minutes of their trajectory (before they ever arrive over U.S. territory).
High Frontier can’t kill a single human being, Russian or American; so there is nothing for the pacifists to be agitated about. High Frontier is non-nuclear; so there is nothing for the environmentalists to be agitated about.
You would think that the people who are worrying about the terrible danger to life and the environment from nuclear weapons would jump up and down with joy at the news of a non-nuclear system which can prevent Russian nukes from landing on Americans with the full force of their fireblast and fallout. But that’s not happening. Instead, the anti-nuke activists are accusing General Graham’s plan of being “destabilizing.”
As explained by Jeremy Stone, director of the Federation of American Scientists, High Frontier would be “the most destabilizing development imaginable”because, if we could shoot down Soviet-launched ICBMs, then the Soviets would have no defense against our ICBMs; and that would frighten them to death – or to rashness; so the Russians might decide to launch a preemptive strike against us and hit us first.
Over the years the liberals have come up with many illogical arguments, but that one takes the prize. According to this line of argument, we don’t need to worry about the tremendous arsenal of weapons of mass destruction possessed by the Russians, including their more than 300 “heavy” ICBMs. But, say the liberals, it would be “destabilizing” for the United States to build a system to prevent those ICBMs from killing Americans.
If the Russians aren’t planning on launching their missiles at us, they can say “ho hum while we spend our money on a means to shoot them down. If the Russians are planning on launching their missiles, then we jolly well better hurry up and develop a system to defend ourselves.
Will High Frontier work? This type of system was deemed technically feasible by a Defense Department team of scientists and technicians 20 years ago. If there are some bugs in the system, let’s go to work and clean them out.
Can we afford it? The High Frontier team says that this system can be deployed in five or six years at a cost of about $15 billion. Some Pentagon officials think it would cost several times that amount; and it would IF the Pentagon stretches the building program out over 10-12 years.
But America, the great can-do society, can achieve remarkable results very rapidly IF we want to. We landed on the moon in seven years from the go-ahead; the Polaris submarine (which had as many technical risks as High Frontier) was accomplished in 4 years; and the SR-71 was achieved in 2 ½ years.
Lessons of Pearl Harbor
“Enjoy your dream of peace just one more day. . . . Hawaii, you will be caught like a rat in a trap.” Those were the words of Japanese Admiral Matome Ugaki, Yamamoto’s Chief of Staff, on December 6, 1941. They capsule what the cocksure Japanese military leaders were thinking in the final hours before their vicious attack on Pearl Harbor, the greatest single military disaster we ever suffered.
As we look back on that fateful day four decades ago, one wonders how the Japanese could have ever thought they could defeat the great United States of America. Japan was, only a small fraction of the industrial power it is today, and the only way an armed force could reach U.S. territory from Japan was primarily by means of ships.
How could rational military strategists have imagined a scenario that could have anticipated victory over America? The Japanese warlords simply concluded that the United States lacked the will and the weapons to fight.
Another question is, why was the United States caught by surprise? Our government had received many warnings that an attack was imminent, especially from the breaking of the Japanese codes. Looking back, it seems impossible that the Roosevelt Administration failed to recognize the evidence of an impending attack in general, and of an attack on Pearl Harbor in particular.
In the weeks before Pearl Harbor, U.S. experts and amateurs relaxed in the twin defense myths of late 1941: that Pearl Harbor was impregnable (supposedly the Gibraltar of the Pacific), and that Japan would be deterred from launching a surprise attack because of fear of devastating U.S. retaliation.
The dictionary defines “deterrent” as the ability to retaliate sufficiently to frighten an enemy from attacking. An effective U.S. deterrent must combine our military strength, plus the perception of that strength by a potential attacker, plus the attacker’s judgment as to whether we could and would hit back with devastating U.S. retaliation.
Do we have a deterrent today against a potential aggressor? The nuclear freezeniks are constantly arguing that we have “enough bombs,” or “sufficient warheads, or “overkill.” But the question isn’t “how many bombs do we have?” but “do we have enough weapons to frighten the enemy out of attacking because of his fear of devastating U.S. retaliation?”
The crux of the matter, therefore, is not an absolute judgment of what is U.S. strength, or even an absolute judgment of what is U.S. military strength in relation to Soviet strength. The most important factor is the Soviets’ estimate of U.S. strength, plus their estimate of whether or not we will use it, plus their estimate of whether the retaliatory strike they suffer would be so “devastating” that they don’t dare risk it.
If you were Yuri Andropov contemplating the United States today, would you think the United States has the weapons which can inflict devastating retaliation? If so, would you think the United States has the will to use them?
What would you think when you review the passage of the nuclear freeze referenda by about a fourth of the nation’s voters? What would you think when you contemplate the activity of high-ranking clergy in trying to invoke their religious authority against the use or even the possession of retaliatory weapons?
What would you think when you observe the difficulty President Reagan has had in getting his defense program through Congress? What would you think when you hear that one federal judge has hamstrung and paralyzed the draft registration program?
What would you think when you recall that, from 1966 to 1981, the United States did not build a single new ballistic submarine, but in the same timeframe the Soviets built 60 such submarines? What would you think when you recall that the Soviets have already deployed a Backfire bomber force twice as large as ‘the projected U.S. B-1 bomber force which is still on the drawing board? What would you think when you recall that 3/4ths of U.S. warheads are carried on launchers that are 15 years old or older, while 3/4ths of Soviet warheads are on launchers five years old or less?
The first thing Yuri Andropov said after he took command of the U.S.S.R. was that peace “can be upheld only resting upon the invincible might of the Soviet armed forces.” It doesn’t sound like he’s very much in awe of our power, does it?
Hope and Despair
When the American POWs coming home after the Korean War were debriefed by the Army, the doctors discovered that some GIs had become victims of a strange new disease which they labeled “giveupitis.” Major William E. Mayer, the chief Army psychiatrist on the case, said that some American POWs lost their will to live, crawled into a corner, and without any other disease simply covered their own faces and died.
Fortunately, our American POWs in the Vietnam War did not suffer from that disease. We even developed some authentic heroes such as Jeremiah Denton, now U.S. Senator from Alabama, who had the moral and mental stamina to endure the rigors of Red prisons.
I was reminded of the “giveupitis” malady when I read a spate of recent news articles describing the current epidemic of despair which is sweeping our country. The news stories sound like press releases from Dr. Helen Caldicott, president of a freezenik front called Physicians for Social Responsibility; indeed, her name figures in most of the stories.
Dr. Caldicott claims that she “encounters despair everywhere” she goes. That’s not surprising since her speeches reveal that she is a Typhoid Mary carrying the germ of despair. After she spreads the germ, she then diagnoses the infection.
Dr. Caldicott claims that most children “don’t believe they are going to grow up; they believe they are going to be killed in a nuclear war.” She quotes this conclusion of an American Psychiatric Association study of 1,000 children in Boston.
It is difficult to see how it could be “socially responsible” to frighten little children about nuclear war.
Dr. Caldicott has developed a space-age version of the old line used long ago to control children’s behavior: “The boogeyman will get you if you don’t watch out.”
On a recent nationally syndicated television program, Dr. Caldicott did a good job of convincing the audience that nuclear war is bad. Of course, that is about like trying to prove it is light in the daytime and dark at night; nobody was arguing on the other side. But she certainly didn’t convince people that nuclear freeze can prevent war; in fact, she admitted that her nuclear freeze proposal is “unrealistic,” that the freeze concept has “never worked” in the past, and that it won’t work “if man doesn’t change.”
Jim Siemer, another freezenik who is director of the Catholic high school peace group called Pax Christi, says that he often asks youngsters how many think they will die in a nuclear war; and “99 percent of the hands would go up.” Since normal youngsters are thinking about football or baseball or even studies, his statistic proves only that he gave them a scare talk before he asked for a show of hands.
Unfortunately, many textbooks and assigned reading in our nation’s schools have a morbid preoccupation with such depressing subjects as suicide, murder, euthanasia, abortion, and the false notion that the American system is evil and oppressive. It’s no wonder that suicide has become a principal cause of teenage death.
It is so wrong to lead young people, and especially children who can do nothing about adult problems, down the primrose path of disillusionment, defeatism, and despair. They should be told that America has provided more political and economic freedom to more people than any nation in the history of the world, and that we have ample resources to solve any problem we undertake.
This despair syndrome even persuaded a ski instructor in Colorado to leave his job and take his wife and two small children on extended travel to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii in order to see the world before it blows up. Maybe that attitude toward work was why Thomas Aquinas linked despair with the sin of sloth (another word for laziness). The expectation of impending disaster is a good excuse to avoid work.
Despair is the sin of believing that all is lost, that neither God nor your own actions can save you from disaster. In religious terms, despair is a sin; in practical terms, despair is self-defeating; in American terms, despair is historically false – we have proved that we are the great “can do nation.
The poet tells us that “hope springs eternal in the human breast”; but that maxim is being put to the test today. Our religious and political leaders should meet the challenge of helping Americans to nurture the virtue of hope so that we can face the future with confidence.
Pacifism, Love, and Duty
Easter Sunday was marred in the United States and Europe by pacifist political demonstrations. These were widely covered by the media so that they were the top of the news all day on Easter.
Why did the pacifists select Easter for their demonstrations against the weapons which the United States and Western Europe need to defend themselves against Russian aggression? The pacifists and freezeniks could have selected April Fool’s Day, April 1. They could have chosen May Day, May 1, which has relevant symbolism on both sides of the Iron Curtain. They could have selected Income Tax Day, April 15, which would have been appropriate to their message against more spending for military weapons.
But no, the pacifists and freezeniks chose to politicize Easter, the greatest religious feast of the Christian faith. Was this because they recognized in Christianity the antithesis of everything the pacifists and the freezeniks are saying?
The Christian Gospels have given us the definition of love: “Greater love than this no man hath, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
The freedom we enjoy in America is the result of brave men in the U.S. Armed Forces who showed their true love by being willing to risk their lives to establish and preserve our freedom. They deserve our gratitude for proving their love – and they deserve our support in giving them the best weapons and equipment that money can buy.
The high ground of morality about war and peace was seized by the anti-freeze advocates, rather than by the freezeniks, during the March demonstrations in our Nation’s capital. A seminar entitled “Our Moral Duty to Defend Freedom” was addressed by prominent men from different religious perspectives.
Rabbi Joshua 0. Haberman, senior rabbi of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, reminded his audience that it takes two to make peace but only one to make war. He showed that there is not a single pacifist in the Hebrew Bible, and that the Jewish ethic includes the duty of combat when necessary to eradicate evil from our midst.
Rabbi Haberman warned that “disarmament is not an example to the enemy, but an invitation to attack.” He quoted a Russian proverb: “Make yourself into a sheep, and you will meet the wolf near by.” “There is something more immoral than nuclear war,” he concluded, “and that is being deprived of our life as a nation.”
Dr. William V. O’Brien, professor of Government at Georgetown University and the author of a major opus called The Conduct of Just and Limited War, described how the “just war” doctrine is just as relevant to the nuclear-space age as to any previous era. He stoutly defended the right of legitimate self-defense.
In regard to the morality of deterrence, Professor O’Brien argued that a nation should only threaten what it can do and will do. Those naive clergymen who think it is “moral” to possess nuclear weapons only so long as we promise not to use them are painting themselves into a corner which is logically and morally indefensible, and which would make our weapons completely useless.
Dr. Ernest W. LeFever, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the author of many books in that field, urged Americans to differentiate between “prudential fear” which we should have because of Soviet superiority in nuclear weapons of all kinds, and that “inordinate fear” preached by the promoters of a nuclear freeze in an attempt to get us to abandon all plans to defend our nation. A nuclear freeze now would only ratify Soviet superiority.
“The bomb is not the enemy,” Dr. LeFever declared, “because it can be used to maintain freedom.”
It is clear that it is America’s moral duty to defend freedom.