WHEN ONE FIRST HEARD THAT SPEECH, THE SENSE THAT I GOT ANY WAY WAS THAT
THE PRESIDENT WAS REALLY OFFERING AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE A VIRTUALLY, IF NOT ENTIRELY,
IMPENETRABLE DEFENSE, AN UMBRELLA THAT WOULD PROTECT BOTH OUR CIVILIAN POPULATION AND OUR
MILITARY RESOURCES. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS WHAT THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH SAID? DID WE MISINTERPRET
IT OR DID HE MISLEAD US OR DID WE MISS...
I think the President set for the Strategic Defense Initiative a goal
that can't possibly be realized in the near future, if it can ever be realized, of a perfect
defense, an impenetrable shield. It seems to me unlikely that we will be, unlikely that we will
be able to achieve that level of perfection in any weapons system, offensive or defensive.
Nevertheless, a partially effective strategic defense, one that would intercept, let's say, half
the missiles aimed at the United States, in a deliberate attack, would destroy the effectiveness
of that attack. It would not achieve it's objectives, if the objectives were to destroy the
American capacity to retaliate. And, of course, it would be available to deal with accidents or
miscalculations. I believe it's a mistake to argue that SDI is only worth pursuing if it can
lead to perfection. Partial defenses have a vital role to play in protecting this country, not
only against a missile attack, but against a variety of contingencies that seem to me more