[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
                              T H E
                           Z E P H Y R
                  __     M A G A Z I N E
                 Issue #12                4-19-86
            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                  THE ZEPHYR II BBS (894-6526)
                owned and operated by T. H. Smith
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
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                            (c) 1986
   In 1945 the world was "treated" dramatically to mankind's 
newest and greatest invention. One instant a city stood, and
in the next there was only radioactive rubble and bodies.
   Japan had been trying to surrender, but were refused. The
two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were left alone in the 
massive bombing raids so that the effects of a nuclear blast
could be better studied. Many experts also point out that the
two atomic bombs were dropped, not to defeat Japan but to show
our new enemy, the Soviet Union, what we could do to them, with
primary proof of this being that the Soviet fleet was ready to
invade from the north just as the bombs were being dropped.
   Three years later the Soviets had their own atomic bomb.
Not long after this the United States had the first H-bomb, so
powerful that the previously frightening atomic bomb was merely
the fuse. This time the Soviets were less than a year behind.
   During all of World War II a total of 3 megatons (3 million 
tons, or 6 billion pounds) of TNT was exploded. Today a 
perfectly average warhead is at least this powerful - and there
are some 20,000 such average warheads. Imagine all of the 
devastation and death of World War II (1939-1945) going of in
a fraction of a second - then multiply that by 20,000 and you'll
have some idea of World War III.
   Recent studies indicate that between 1% to 2% of the existing
arsenal would be enough to trigger a nuclear winter of sufficient
effect to make extinct literally everything on earth. Other 
studies indicate that far less than than this (1/10th of 1% by
a recent FEMA study) would be enough to annihilate America beyond
   What can be done about such a threat?
   On March 23, 1983 President Reagan was giving a speech to the
American public. He talked of many things. Then he began breaking
away from the prewritten material and announced a grand new 
project that he called the Strategic Defense Initiative. Almost
instantly the press jumped on the idea and labeled it, The Star
Wars scheme. Later reports showed that his own cabinet and staff
watched on in horror as Reagan went against every report and study
to date.
   Reagan's claim was that this new plan would provide "new hope 
for our children in the twenty-first century," and went on to say
that it would render "nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete" and,
"no longer would our countrymen have to rely on retaliation to
protect them from nuclear attack."
   The initial reaction of the American public was highly favor-
able. After all, who WOULDN'T welcome an end to the arms race 
and an end to the threat of worldwide extinction? For 30 years we'd
been living in constant fear, and watching our income dwindle and
dwindle as more and more of our tax dollars went to pay for 
national defense. By 1983 and Reagan's announcement, the average
American was paying more than a third of all income to taxes, and
of this approximately half was going to the defense budget. Even 
then, the national debt was increasing by an alarming rate and 
destining our country to bankruptcy.  
   That figure has now gone up to 41% paid in taxes, with the 
defense budget being increased by half again, then half again,
while other necessary services have been cut.
   And still the average American either supports the SDI idea, 
and/or has no concept of what it is really about.
                          What IS SDI?
   In 1981 a group known as the Heritage Foundation gathered 
together to discuss national defense. Among this group were such
people as Edward Tell ("father of the H-bomb) and Joseph Coors
(glug glug). The members of this group were right-wing advocates
(blow 'em to shreds) and were also personal friends of Ronald
Reagan. So close, in fact, that although they were not officially
a part of the administration they came to be called Reagan's
"Kitchen Cabinet."
   General Daniel Graham was one of the leaders of the group. 
When the original group split up, due to a disagreement between
Teller and Graham. Teller was all for a space-based defense, 
but said that America should wait until the technology for 
such a system existed. Graham wanted the system NOW!
   Graham's new group was called "High Frontier." The plan
was put together and submitted to the Pentagon, where it was
immediately rejected. It was revised slightly and then 
submitted again.
   On November 24, 1982 Casper Weinberger (Secretary of 
Defense) wrote to Graham, saying that the system would not 
work, and that since the technology for it didn't exist, 
it would be ridiculous to support the project.
   The Congressional Office of Technology also got involved.
Their report and subsequent recommendation to the President 
said that the idea presented "a defensive system of extremely 
limited capability" and then added that if the Soviets 
improved their missles as expected, the system would have
"no capability."
   Despite this report, the report from Weinberger and also
from Richard Cooper (Director of Defense Research Advanced
Projects) from Dr. Richard DeLauer (Undersecretary of
Defense), George Keyworth (Presidential Science Advisor) and
many others, Reagan went ahead and announced to the American
public - without forewarning to his staff - that the SDI 
project would begin.
   Alexander Haig later described the reasoning behind this
announcement, and other things Reagan had been doing, as "a
big PR splash that would make the President look like the
greatest leader in America." 
   The initial favorable response of the American public - and
the continuing support for it in some sectors - comes from
misinformation of what the system is and does. Ask most people
what SDI is, what it does, and how it's supposed to do it, and
you'll get a grand variety of misinformed ideas.
   The system as proposed consists of three layers of defense.
The first layer would be made up of 432 satellites in a geo-
synchronous orbit. These would be armed with non-nuclear missles
and some chemical lasers. Their purpose would be to fire at
Soviet missles in their early-launch stage. An optomistic 
figure says that "up to one-third of the launched missles 
could be stopped."
   The next layer in the system is the only one for which
present technology allows to exist. It is made up of ABM and
other missles (non-nuclear). This has been said to be capable
of stopping approximately half of what missles remain.
   Finally comes the third tier - particle-beam weapons on
the ground to shoot down those missles that have made it to
America. The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment
(OTA) has estimated that the technology needed to build and
install this third tier is at least 2 decades away.
   What most people don't realize is that the system is not
designed for, nor is it being planned for, defense of 
civilian targets. Its sole function is to protect our missle
silos, and to give us more time to launch those missles.
   According to the plan as accepted, the system *might* be,
but probably won't be (due to cost), expanded to protect
cities and other civilian targets until sometime in the middle
of the next century - if then.
   So, even if the technology DID exist (it doesn't), the system
will not, and was never intended to, protect the citizens.
                         How Effective?
   Even the most optomistic estimates say that if the system
was in effect right now, and if the Soviets don't add more
weapons, and don't make any improvements, the total system
would be capable of shooting down, "somewhere between 50%
and 90% of the incoming weapons." General Graham has made
the claim that it would be capable of stopping as much as
   Keep in mind that the estimates assume that only missle
silos are targeted, that the Soviets do nothing to advance
their present weapons systems, and make no efforts to knock
out the system itself. Change the attack pattern to attack
cities and the system simply will not be able to work as
well because most of the system can't be moved or reaimed
to protect those cities. 
   Nor does the system have any effect on missles that move
much faster than what the Soviets presently have. (At the
moment, many of their older missles are being replaced 
by new models with "hotter" rocket engines.)
   The first layer - the 432 satellites - are extremely
vulnerable to attack. They can be shot down easily, since
they are virtually defenseless. But even that isn't needed
since all the Soviets have to do is to plant space mines
somewhere near (undetectable). Push a button and layer one
flakes out in single burst.
   Finally, nothing in the system can detect or deal with
anything but missles that use a ballistic path that goes
outside the atmosphere. Bombers and cruise missles, for
example, won't even be noticed by it.
   What all that means together is summed up well by the
report from OTA which (to repeat) described the system
as having "no capability . . . even with no Soviet effort
to overcome the defense."
                      Even the Bright Side
   Assume that some miracle happens and a whole new science
is discovered suddenly, and Graham's optomistic estimates
of the system being capable of stopping up to 95% of the
incoming is true. (That's assuming a LOT!)
   FEMA and other groups have released statistics concerning
the effects of a nuclear war. Even the Pentagon has officially
accepted the figures that 1% of the existing weapons could
trigger a nuclear winter.
   So, with a string a miracles, there would still be 5 times
more incoming than is needed to kill every living thing in 
the Northern Hemisphere, and possibly in the entire world.
The effects of the nuclear winter would be made worse since
installment of the system would mean a new targeting 
strategy on the part of the Soviets, with the attention being
shifted to the unprotected targets - the cities.
                            The Cost
   The first estimates of the cost to build the system came
from General Graham. His estimate was $100 billion. This 
was instantly recognized as a gross under-estimate, and a
newly revised figure of 1 trillion dollars was made by 
OTA and other governmental study groups. Others have said
that by the time the system is installed the cost could 
be twice this much.
   When Dr. Teller first heard Graham's estimate he said 
(after commenting something along the lines of, "NO WAY!")
"The Soviets can get rid of High Frontier for $10 billion."
   The ratio then would be 10:1 - with every dollar we sink
into it being negated by 10c. 
   Many scientists say that Teller is being too generous.
The pessimistic estimate are more of a ratio like 100:1 -
for every $100 billion we spend on the system, the Soviets
could make it useless by spending just $1 billion.
   How does that work?
   First, planting space mines is considerably less expensive
than putting up the sophisticated satellites. If the satellite 
costs $10 million, the mine to blow it away would cost something
more like $100,000.
   Next, it's relatively cheap to build a decoy missle. If
the SDI system is capable of bringing down 9500 incoming
weapons of the exising 10,000 of the Soviets, all they have
to do is build another 5000 or so empty missles. The system
would be incapable of detecting the difference between a
real missle and one of the decoys. With relatively little
cost, the Soviets could easily hopelessly overload the
systems already limited capabilities.
                          One Trillion
   As mentioned above, a conservative estimate to pull the full
system up is around 1 trillion dollars. (Also as mentioned,
there are some who say that it will be considerably higher -
including some estimates that say that SDI alone will double
the national debt.)
   It has become an everyday thing to think of big numbers in
government spending. An appropriation of $25 million is almost
petty cash. Appropriations in the billions of dollars are
common, and barely cause an eyebrow to raise.
   Get out your calculator and play with the number 1 trillion.
That's 1,000,000,000,000 (1x10 to the 12th in scientific
   If you were spend a million dollars a day, it would take
you a million days (more than 2700 years) to spend that 
trillion dollars.
   I don't know if this is true, because I don't know how 
thick a dollar bill is. But, one figure on what a trillion
dollars is says that if you had a stack of that many dollar
bills, it would be some 150,000 miles tall.
   Imagine what could be done with a trillion dollars (instead
of putting it into a system that won't work anyway).
   That's enough to fund NASA at the 1984 level for 143 years.
It's enough to pay all money provided to education for 67
   With it, we could have several permanent bases on the moon,
on Mars and in the asteroid belt - we could start mining and
manufacturing operations thus ending raw material shortages
and much of the pollution back on earth - and there would
still be enough money left over for a variety of other space
related studies and tasks, and to turn our education system
from being presently known as one of the worst in the world
back to being not just one of the best but THE best.
   With a trillion dollars you could build 10 million homes
worth $100,000 each.
   As Carl Sagan said, "Why do we always and automatically
equate national security with warfare?" 
   We're a nation going deeper and deeper into bankruptcy. 
According to recent reports, America has the lowest growth
rate of any industrial country in the world, and thus very
little financial security for our future. We also have an 
educational system that is falling apart, and thus reducing
our future security along those lines. Social security is
apparently doomed, which means that you'll have no security
in your old age, either.
   Looking at it in reverse is actually more realistic. 
   Where will that trillion dollars come from? It's not going
to appear by magic. Either taxes will have to be greatly
increased (possibly doubled - from the 43% we pay now up
to 86%?) 
   Since that kind of increase will never be tolerated by 
the American public, the tax increases will still come, but
in lower increments. That still won't pay the bill, though.
   Consequently, the only way to get the money to pay for it
is to cut other services and appropriations. And you couldn't
do it by just a little.
   In 1984 (my most recent figures right on hand - sorry) the
total federal income was about 666 billion. Expenditures for
that year were about 842 billion, of which 224 billion went 
directly into defense. (Calculate it and you'll see that in
that year we also went an additional 176 billion into debt.)
   The defense budget has increased by a factor of approximately
35% per year since Reagan took office. And since SDI is a part
of that, you KNOW that appropriation cuts won't occur there. So,
subtract the defense budget of 224 billion from the total 
expenses of 842 billion, and you end up with 618 billion.
   What that comes down to, then, is that to pay for Star Wars
ALL services would have to be suspended for about 2 years. Cut
ALL services by 50% and it would take 4 years.
   That won't happen, either.
   Think about it for a moment. How *will* it be paid? How do
you come up with, quickly, half again as much as the total
federal income? 
                      End of the Arms Race?
   One of the claims for the value of SDI is that it will 
bring an end to the arms race, making the claim that the scheme
will make nuclear weapons useless and obsolete.
   If you've been following the information given above, you'll
know that this isn't the case.
   First, there would be a massive upswing in missle production.
The ABMs in that second tier of the the overall system would have
to be manufactured. That means a minimum of 10,000 missles right
away, plus additional missles for each of the new missles that
the Soviets will build.
   And they'll be building a LOT of them. Many will be decoys -
empty missles. But, we'd have to build armed missles for each
of theirs, decoy or not.
   The presently planned system is meant to handle the existing
10,000 missles of the Soviets. So they build 10,000 more. Now
our first batch of 10,000 won't be enough, so we double it
to 20,000 - and then so do they (except that they can then 
build fakes, for a lot less money).
   Consequently, SDI won't stop the arms race. It will escalate
it far beyond anything it has been so far.
                         *IF* It Worked
   Some people have made the claim that the Soviets are upset
because the Star Wars scheme will end their ability to threaten
us. The fact of the matter is that they know full well that
the system won't work, and is easily and cheaply defeated in
any case. 
   In 1972, President Nixon and Congress formally agreed to a 
ban on any ABM (anti-ballistic missle) studies. This treaty was
and is the crux of all armament treaties with the Soviet Union.
For the SDI scheme to work, every arms agreement and treaty 
to date would have to be broken.
   Just the fact that this is being considered as so far 
seriously jeapordized continuing peace talks. (How would YOU
feel about talking to someone who is about ready to break
every promise he has made?) Some people claim that the Soviets
are upset because the system will stop their threat. Actually,
they know as well as our own experts that the system won't
work. It's the breaking of treaties so callously that they 
are upset about. 
   So is much of Europe. They agree that the system won't
work. But they say that IF it could work, they would join
with the Soviet Union in protest. The reason this time is 
that IF it worked, the United States would be protected 
behind its own umbrella, thereby guaranteeing that any conflict
would take place solely in Europe, and particularly on top
of the heads of our allies.
   Worse yet, even IF the system looked like it was going to
work, the Soviets would never allow it to be put into place.
At this point in time, only the United States has an 
official preemptive strike stance. We have declared, for the
record, that we wouldn't hesitate to use nuclear weapons in
a conflict, nor would we hesitate to make the first strike
if conditions warranted that.
   Again put yourself in the place of the Soviets. Your most
bitter enemy has already told you that he'd blow you away in
a second if need be. Now he is about to put up a screen that
could make him invulnerable to attack. From behind that screen
he can do whatever he damn well pleases, and there won't be
anything you can do about it.
   We, as Americans, don't believe that we would attack the
Soviet Union first. That's not the point, however. The point
is that THEY believe that we would.
   IF the system seemed to be workable, and IF we were about
to put it into effect, the chances are very good that they
would make that desparate last-ditch effort to strike while 
they still could. 
   To list the points again: (they may not be in order - I'm
in a hurry:
1) The experts have almost unanimously declared that the SDI
scheme flat out won't work. The Pentagon turned it down twice
as being useless and extremely dangerous.
2) Contrary to what most people think, it will NOT protect
the citizens, and is not meant to.
3) The best estimates by the staunchest supports of the idea
would still let through 5 times more than are needed to 
annihilate all of America.
4) At a cost of 1 trillion dollars (plus), it will greatly
reduce national security on a financial level.
5) That cost would continue, but on a more one-sided level.
While America became financially weaker, the Soviets would
be becoming financially stronger (through having to spend
6) SDI doesn't end the arms race, it increases it. 
7) Since it will encourage a first strike against the United
States, it reduces national security in that sense as well.
8) To institute it the United States would have to violate
literally every arms agreement and treaty ever signed.
   So, what's good about the Star Wars scheme - other than it 
making a few people VERY wealthy? And the rest of us more poor
than we already are?
   If ever there was a plan to ruin America while making our
enemy strong, this is it.
   Carl Sagan in a speech to the NRDC described the Star Wars
scheme quite well. 
   "You have to be looney tunes if you bet your future on 
this idea."
   There has been a great deal of talk on the boards recently 
about war and etc. And here we went one more time.
   Some of you are getting bored with it, no doubt. But at the
same time, how CAN you be disinterested in something that could
spell the end of America?
   In my mind, the two single most important topics in the world
right now are nuclear winter and SDI. Nuclear winter, accepted
and then ignored by the Pentagon, demonstrates that a nuclear 
war of even limited scale could very easily make most or all
species on earth extinct - and mankind almost certainly.
   SDI is a defensive system that threatens to bring about that
nuclear winter, and bring us to financial ruin while doing it.
   If you don't care about your country, shouldn't you at least
be concerned about your own future?
Next Week:
At this point you'll just have to wait and see what comes up.
My parents are coming into town for a visit, so I will be 
rather busy.
If you haven't already paid your "subscription fee" for the 
magazine, why not do it this week. That "fee" is to bring in
one new user.
And don't forget to participate - not just here but on all of
the boards.

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.