[fa.arms-d] ARMS-D Vol 1 #3

arms-d (02/24/83)

>From The.Moderator@MIT-MC  Wed Feb 23 22:47:18 1983
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Subject: Arms-Discussion Digest V1 #3
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Arms-Discussion Digest                            Volume 1 : Issue 3

Today's Topics:

Non-nuclear Deterrent to Nuclear War, review of "With Enough Shovels"
by Robert Scheer

Date: 16 Feb 1983 1405-PST
From: Bradley S. Brahms <Brahms@USC-ECLB>
Subject: Non-nuclear Deterrent to Nuclear War
To: arms-d@MIT-MC

Recently,  I  heard  of  a  new  proposal,  proposed  by  some   Major
General(?), that has been  going around Capital  Hill during the  past
year.  Unfortunately, I  only have  few details.   The proposal,  from
what I know, is a  three step process.  What it  would do is string  a
series of  satellite that  would watch  for any  enemy ICBM  liftoffs.
When that was determined, it  would be able to  send a missile, of  it
own,  towards  the  ICBM.   These  missiles  would  have   non-nuclear
(nonexplosive?) war heads which would disable the incoming ICBM.

The ICBMs that survived  this would then be  tracked by, I beleave,  a
second series of satellites  that would send  missiles at those  ICBMs
before they entered the earth's atmosphere.  Those that survived this,
would then have to contend with ground base missiles.

The estimated cost for  this would be $20  billion in todays  dollars,
not all that expensive considering what some weapon systems cost.  The
system would be able to cover  the whole surface of the earth.   Also,
the first series of satellits could be ready in about three years with
the whole system operational within about eight years.

If anyone out there knows more about  this or can correct me, I  would
appreciate hearing from you.

                                        -- Brad Brahms

P.S.    If possible, please add me to the ARMS-D mailing list.  Thank


Date: 22 Feb 1983 2149-PST
Subject: review of "With Enough Shovels" by Robert Scheer
To:   armsd at MIT-MC

A review of "With Enough Shovels" by Robert Scheer
Random House, 1982

The title of Scheer's book is from the famous line by T.K. Jones,
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense: "... if there are enough shovels to
go around, everyboby's going to make it [through a nuclear war]"

The book is a frightening look at the nuclear war policies of the
present administration.  It is carefully researched - 155 of the 279
pages are references, footnotes, and verbatim interviews with Bethe,
Bush, McNamara, Reagan, Rostow, Vance, Warnke, and York.  Some quotes
give the flavor:

" ... Central to the arguments of [Colin] Gray and other nuclear war
fighters is that they are not talking simply about deterring a Soviet
first strike or responding to one after it has occurred.  They want
the capacity that the United States had during its decades of nuclear
superiority to move up the so-called 'escalation ladder'.  It is only
by adding 'threat escalation' to one's deterrent paraphernalia that
the nuclear-war-fighters believe they can stop conventional as well as
strategic Soviet moves. ...

If the Russians had appointed a man with Gray's views [Gray is a
member of the General Advisory Committee to the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency] to a significant and visible government post, our
own hawks would surely say 'we told you so' and demand vast new
categoris of armaments. ..."

Scheer devotes a chapter to the so-called 'window of vulnerability'.
Like many experts who have considered the issue, Scheer concludes that
no such 'window' exists.  A simple inventory of superpower arsenals
makes the point: the US has 9,200 strategic nuclear warheads; of these
23% are on vulnerable land-based ICBMs.  The USSR has 8,000 strategic
nuclear warheads; 69% are on vulnerable land-based ICBMs.

There is another chapter on civil defense.  Scheer quotes a New York
Times editorial from April 3, 1982: "The sponsors of this [civil
defense] project contend that the Soviet Union has an elaborate
evacuation and shelter program that needs to be matched.  In a crisis,
they argue, the Kremlin could reinforce a nuclear ultimatum by
suddenly evacuating its people and leaving Americans without a
credible response.  Most students of Soviet society hold this to be a
vast exaggeration.  They think the known Soviet instruction amnuals,
shelter signs, and civil defense drills are modest exertions; there is
no evidence that the Russians have ever practiced evacuating a city.
That would require a miraculous transformation of the Soviet transport
and supply networks.  And it would be futile.  With the twist of a few
dials, as former Defense Secretary Brown once observed, America's
nuclear weapons could be retargeted to blanket the evacuation sites.

The Times concluded that:

"The mischief in this kind of planning goes far beyond the waste of
money.  The Stability of deterrence that has kept the peace between
the Soviet Union and the United States assumes that neither side could
ever launch a nuclear strike without suffering an unbearable
retaliatory blow.  The weapons - and defenses - on each side need to
be designed to preserve that condition.  Despite serious uncertainties
caused by some of the Soviet Union's missiles, the balance of fear
persists.  Those who aim to upset it encourage the idea that it is
feasible to fight a general nuclear war and 'survive'.  That idea is
not merely irresponsible, it is mad."