Defense: Much Less Than Meets the Eye

By slashing the nuclear arms arsenal, Bush triggers a debate over whether the military budget is still too big. But even drastic cuts would not produce a windfall.

Stoking a hot debate over the defense budget was certainly not George Bush's intention when he announced his bold plans for slashing nuclear arms. But his initiative is already spurring critics in and out of Congress to ask more insistently than ever why the nation needs to spend nearly $300 billion a year, and continue to buy some superexpensive high-tech weapons, if the worldwide face-off with the Soviet Union is rapidly becoming a memory. With Mikhail Gorbachev announcing major cuts in the Soviet nuclear arsenal at week's end to match, and possibly exceed, the U.S. reductions, and with Democratic presidential candidates...

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