Reviews

Stargazers

The political left's deconstruction of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" into an ICBM closing on a child's bedroom window is only the most memorable of the assaults on the Strategic Defense Initiative since it was announced by President Ronald Reagan on March 23, 1983. But the ever-shifting tactics also point up the failure of an anti-SDI strategy to emerge. As Dr. Robert Jastrow, founder of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, stated recently, it may be that the debate about SDI feasibility is over—the wrangling now being about which systems will work best. Like the nuclear genie 40 years ago, the new defensive weapons that intercept and kill nuclear missiles at the speed of light are out of the bottle and with us for the duration. Can the nuclear era ever be the same again?

Lasers beamed from satellites or satellite mirrors, for example, could burn through the metal skin of targeted missiles in "zero time." At one-third the speed of light, particle beams could disrupt missile guidance systems. Other SDI options include pellet clouds placed in missile flight paths, chemical lasers, electric rail guns, and submarine pop-up missiles carrying laser weapons into space. Such weapons may seem "Star War" toys to a freshman congressman or a scribe of a Bishops' Pastoral. But a rapid advance of information technology—computerized systems for surveillance, sensing, target acquisition...

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