Reviews

Defending the High Frontier

For some time now, many have accepted the logic of nuclear defense. The strategic and moral superiority of a system that relies on killing weapons instead of people seems—on the face of it—undeniable. By suggesting we build such a defense. President Reagan altered the nuclear calculus in which our civilian population is currently held hostage to the whims of our enemy. Yet we have been told time and again by representatives from the Union for Concerned Scientists that faith in strategic defense systems is scientifically indefensible. Either, it is argued, our inventiveness is insufficient to deal with the complications of tracking and destroying a bullet in space traveling at 16,000 miles per hour, or Soviet countermeasures will make any defense futile. But Robert Jastrow's latest book lays to rest scientific arguments against the strategic defense initiative. Meanwhile, the Union for Concerned Scientists can hope for another Three Mile Island.

Prepared in the form of a legal brief, Jastrow's book refutes each of the arguments marshaled against the so-called Star Wars Defense. For those who argue that a defense can be neutralized by "shining" a missile, or spinning it, or coating it or launching it with a fastburn booster, Professor Jastrow demonstrates why each of these tactics entails significant drawbacks. To the argument that an offense can overwhelm a defense, Jastrow counters with an analysis showing...

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