The subject of this book is the research project begun in 1983 and officially known as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or, more popularly, as "Star Wars." We have attempted as comprehensive a review of the project and its implications as the record of the past five years allows. We have also tried to be objective, but we have not hesitated to advance our own judgments when they seemed called for and to draw conclusions in the final chapter.
Our general findings can be stated simply: SDI is a classic example of misplaced faith in the promise of technological salvation. The project was initiated on the basis of political rather than scientific judgment in a deliberate effort to bypass the ordinary process by which innovations in military technology are proposed, reviewed, and adopted when they are considered feasible and appropriate. A popular but technically uninformed president made the decision without consulting his own cabinet or the two agencies of government with primary responsibilities for military and foreign policy, the Defense and State departments, in the hope of promoting advanced technologies that would remove the need to rely indefinitely on nuclear deterrence. So far the project has demonstrated, as informed observers knew from the start, only that comprehensive defenses will not become available in the foreseeable future. Further, even if they eventually do prove feasible, they will probably not be sufficiently impervious to countermeasures to inspire confidence that defenses alone can deter a massive nuclear attack. To suppose that there
can be a last move in a technological arms race is to succumb to a patent fallacy.
In view of these realities, to allow the mere hope for a shield in space to influence defense planning or to prevent the negotiation of radical reductions in offensive arsenals would be an act of the gravest folly. In our view, the only realistic path toward secure and lasting peace is the one that begins with the achievement of greater strategic stability between the superpowers and leads to more elaborate forms of international integration and cooperation. We hope that those who read this book will become convinced, if they are not already, that to place so much faith in prospective military technology is to surrender to a dangerous illusion.
Our collaboration in this enterprise has been made possible by a generous grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. We are grateful to the president of the corporation, David Hamburg, and to his board for recognizing the importance of topics such as this, and to Frederic (Fritz) Mosher for shepherding us through the grant process and the completion of the work. The grant was supplemented by assistance from the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC), headquartered on our campus, and we are pleased that this book is being published as the first of what we hope will become a series published by the University of California Press in cooperation with IGCC. We are grateful to William J. McClung of the University Press for his encouragement, to Marilyn Schwartz for her editorial supervision, and to Kristen Stoever for her superb copyediting.
The Carnegie grant and IGCC support have also led to other publications written or edited by ourselves and several collaborators: Gerald M. Steinberg, who was a visiting research fellow during the project; Randy Willoughby, who worked with us while completing his doctoral dissertation; and G. Allen Greb, associate director of IGCC. The resulting publications are listed in the bibliography and have been drawn upon freely in the following chapters. We thank our colleagues for their invaluable work and counsel.
In the course of the research, we were also stimulated by the contributions to our understanding of SDI made by many visitors and associates. Some presented lectures to the faculty seminar on international security at the University of California, San Diego. Others took part in special SDI workshops or a conference on SDI and NATO sponsored jointly with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, ably represented by Peter Schulze. Still others called our attention to valuable materials or commented
on various drafts of particular chapters. We list them all with warmest appreciation:
Gordon Adams, Harold Agnew, Worth Bagley, Jack N. Barkenbus, Joel Bengston, Hans Bethe, Maj. Gen. David Bradburn (USAF, ret.), Harvey Brooks, Rep. George E. Brown, Jr., Harold Brown, Robert W. Buchheim, Gregory H. Canavan, Albert Carnesale, John Cartwright, M.P., William Colglazier, Ernst-Otto Czempiel, Robert S. Cooper, Steve Cohen, Jonathan Dean, Richard DeLauer, James Digby, Sidney Drell, Freeman Dyson, Ralph Earle II, David Elliott, James C. Fletcher, President Gerald R. Ford, Lawrence Freedman, Edward Frieman, Richard Garwin, Peter Goudinoff, Thomas Graham, Jr., Patrick W. Hamlett, François Heisbourg, John P. Holdren, Cecil I. Hudson, Jr., Lothar Ibrugger (member of the Bundestag), Michael D. Intriligator, Bhupendra Jasani, Frank Jenkins, Gerald W. Johnson, John A. Jungerman, F. Stephen Larrabee, Richard Ned Lebow, Pierre Lellouche, Franklin A. Long, Frank E. Manuel, Steven Maaranen, James J. Martin, Michael M. May, Robert S. McNamara, Seymour Melman, Giancarlo Monterisi, Harold Mueller, Michael Moodie, Benoit Morel, David L. Parnas, Stanford S. Penner, Richard Perle, Theodore Postol, George Rathjens, Edward L. Rowny, Elie Shneour, Alan B. Sherr, James Skelly, Alan Sweedler, Walter Slocombe, Dennis Smallwood, John Steinbruner, Jeremy Stone, Trevor Taylor, Edward Teller, Sheila Tobias, Maj. Gen. John C. Toomay (USAF, ret.), Brigitte Traupe (member of the Bundestag), Achim von Heinitz, Dean Wilkening, John Wilkinson, M.P., Roy D. Woodruff, David S. Yost, and Lord Solly Zuckerman.
Any mistakes or doubtful judgments that may remain in this book, despite their efforts to enlighten us, are solely our responsibility.
We also thank the staff members and students at UCSD who pitched in to help: Arlene Winer, Sue Greer, and Helen Hawkins of the IGCC staff; David Bernstein, Brian Bouchard, Brian Burgoon, David Geddes, and Brett Henry, our student researchers; and Anita Schiller, who unfailingly located uncatalogued materials for us in the Central Library. Above all, we are grateful to Kelly Charter Escobedo for patiently and promptly turning countless illegible drafts into neatly printed chapters.
Our debt to a host of scholars, journalists, government officials, and polemicists on all sides is recorded most fully in the notes and bibliography, but we would be remiss in not making special mention of certain sources that we have all but plundered: the three studies (one by Ashton Carter) issued by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment; the evaluation of directed-energy technologies by a committee of the
American Physical Society; explorations of the economics of SDI by the Council on Economic Priorities, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), and Barry M. Blechman and Victor A. Utgoff; Raymond L. Garthoff's account of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty negotiations; three Senate staff reports on the progress of SDI; a report on the origins of SDI by Frank Greve in the San Jose Mercury News; the chronicle of events and comments provided in the Arms Control Reporter; survey data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut; and the work of John E. Pike, specialist on space policy at the FAS.
One of us (York) has long been acquainted with the technical and policy issues involved in the development of strategic defenses, having served as first chief scientist of the (Defense) Advanced Projects Agency and then as the first director of defense research and engineering during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. He also took an active part in the debate over deployment of anti-ballistic missiles in the 1960s. His coauthor became intrigued with prospects for space weapons when they became a controversial issue at a conference he attended in 1981 in Aspen, Colorado, which was convened by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics to consider the future of space exploration. Our subsequent discussions led us in 1982 to formulate a project to study warfare in space. The announcement of the SDI in 1983 made that the focus of our study. Finally, we should perhaps also thank the first director and the staff of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), without whose diligent and sometimes remarkably candid efforts to explain and defend the project we should have had a harder time finding information with which to criticize it.
LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA