Star Wars: Pro and Con

The seed for Sunday night's clash over space weapons was planted-almost casually in March 1983. Partly as a way of selling his proposed $2 trillion, five-year military buildup, President Reagan called on U.S. scientists to "give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete." This would be done by erecting, in effect, an impregnable missileproof bubble over America. Enemy ICBMs would be zapped by a wizardly array of defensive weapons well before they entered U.S. skies. The idea quickly became known as Reagan's Star Wars plan.

To many Americans, the notion of a space-based strategic defense had an appealing...

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