]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]      Tower and the MADmen      [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
                                                       (2/21/89)
    From The Wall Street Journal, 31 January 1989, p. A18:1

             [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   The conventional ``spin'' on  confirmation testimony last week
by Secretary of Defense-designate John  Tower has been to declare
the death of SDI.  But what we see instead is the death of MAD --
mutual assured destruction, the  goofy but enormously influential
theory that  the way  to prevent  nuclear war  is to  leave every
nation defenseless against nuclear missiles.
   Mr. Tower's stop-the-presses line  was that, ``I don't believe
that  we  can devise  an  umbrella  that can  protect  the entire
American population from  nuclear incineration.''  But  this is a
dog-bites-man  story.   Mr.  Tower and  his  critics  were merely
beheading a strawman, the so-called perfect defense ``Astrodome''
of  political myth.   Ronald  Reagan's initial  SDI  proposal was
first of all  a moral proposition  -- a perfect  defense would be
good,  not bad.   The details  of how  close we  can come  can be
thrashed out by  technicians.  And Mr. Reagan  has made his moral
point; in  the real  world a  political coalition  is building in
favor of deploying  anti-nuclear defenses.  The  proposals on the
table are  for limited  defenses, of course,  but if  any kind of
defense is ever deployed, the MADmen have lost.
   Their  theology  has  long  held  that  to  be  perfectly safe
Americans  must  also  be  perfectly  vulnerable.   Defense isn't
tolerable.  They know  this isn't a popular  notion, which is why
they  go to  such lengths  to  disguise their  attacks on  SDI in
jargon about  technical impossibility,  ``nuclear winter,'' throw
weights,   dummy  warheads,   and  ``cost-effectiveness   at  the
margin.''  But the clear no-defense  thread of their argument has
expressed  itself  in  arms-control  treaties  that  limit mostly
defense.  And even,  as we saw  in the GWEN  issue in the Dukakis
presidential campaign, in preventing  facilities that would allow
us to communicate with surviving forces after a nuclear attack.
   The MADmen certainly  understand that if  a limited defense is
all right, then why not a  bigger one as technology permits?  And
if a limited  defense is all  right, then the  debate isn't about
defense any  more but  about engineering.   Not about  whether to
build defenses but about how much  and when.  MAD goes the way of
sun-worship and other primitive superstitions.
   Mr.  Tower, by  the way,  also seems  to understand  this very
well.  As  he put  it elsewhere in  his testimony,  ``I happen to
believe  that SDI  is a  very high-priority  item.''  SDI  is, he
added,  ``an integral  part of  the total  deterrence capability,
transitioning  gradually  from   a  totally  offensive  deterrent
strategy to  a more  defensive deterrent.''   In plainer English,
Mr. Tower  thinks a U.S.  president should have  more choices, in
the event  of a nuclear  attack, than  simply counting casualties
and blowing up the world.  He wants more than a MAD world.
   Which brings us back to the coalition for some kind of limited
deployment, also known as ALPS or  LPS.  As Mr. Tower put it, ``I
think there's an  element of desirability  in terms, for example,
of an accidental-launch protection system.''
   But he's actually coming late to this party.  Georgia Democrat
Sam Nunn opened the  debate a year ago when  he urged the U.S. to
``seriously  explore  the  development of  a  limited  system for
protecting against  accidental and  unauthorized launches.''  The
idea has since received  public encouragement from, among others,
the  independent Defense  Science  Board, a  bipartisan  group of
scientists  on  the  White  House  Science  Council,  House Armed
Services Chairman Les  Aspin, and a slew  of un-MAD Democrats and
Republicans.
   Mr. Tower  isn't even the  first of George  Bush's advisers to
climb on board.  Vice President  Dan Quayle and National Security
Council Adviser Brent  Scowcroft are both  on record supporting a
ground-based ALPS.  With Democrat R. James Woolsey, Mr. Scowcroft
wrote recently that  an ALPS ``could afford  some protection of a
major portion  of the  U.S. against  a small  accidental attack''
from the Soviets, or ``against a future third-country threat such
as chemically  armed ...  missiles.''  It all  looks to  us as if
nuclear defense is a long way from dead.
   We recognize that  some of those now  supporting ALPS may have
another  agenda.  They  hope support  for a  ground-based defense
will first  kill research into  space defenses,  just as defenses
died  in  the  early  1970s  with  Richard  Nixon's  arms-control
agreements.  Then when it comes down to actually paying money for
an ALPS, they can kill a ground-based system, too.
   But technology  has moved  a long  way in  15 years.   By some
estimates,  an ALPS  with 100  or  200 interceptors  with current
technology would  cost less than  $15 billion.   Our judgment has
always been that  deploying a limited  defense will build support
for a  broader one, while  also gaining  both valuable experience
and protection against a lunatic or accidental attack.
   Ronald Reagan's  SDI vision  changed the  terms of  the West's
strategic debate.  MAD is no longer gospel.  President Bush, with
the help of Messrs. Scowcroft,  Quayle and Tower, can consolidate
that  victory  and  put  the high  priests  of  MAD  back  in the
cloisters for good.

      [The following is not part of the original article.]

George C. Marshall Institute, ``SDI: Making America Secure'',
   National Review, 1 April 1988, p. 36.
Keith B. Payne and Colin S. Gray.  ``What to Read on Strategic
   Defense'', Policy Review, No. 47 (Winter 1989), pp. 86-90.
Russell Seitz, ``The Melting of `Nuclear Winter' '', Wall Street
   Journal, 5 November 1986.

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