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September 11, 1985 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1985-09-11

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OPINION

Page 4

Wednesday, September 11, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

SDI barrier cannot

hold

By Robert J. Mrazek

Vol. XCVI, No.5

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Hollow gesture

AMERICAN JEWS and others.
offended by President
;Reagan's April "reconciliation",
visit to a cemetary in Bitburg,
Germany aren't likely to be ap-.
peased by the Administration's an-
nouncement to withhold new arms
sales to Arab nations until after the
Jewish High Holy Days.
Reagan's April antic, which in-
cluded the laying of a wreath at the
gravesite of Nazi stormtroopers,
demonstrated an appaling insen-
sitivity to those victimized by the
Holocaust.
The savvy among the White
House press officers, however, are
obviously still trying to smooth the
ruffled feathers of Reagan's
significant and growing Jewish
constituency.
The delayed sales of F-15 and F-
16 fighter planes and advanced an-
ti-aircraft missile is a ludicrous
gesture of concession in the wake of
Reagan's demonstrating his
inability to assimilate some rather
fundamental history lessons.
Primarily, the decision to stall
delivery of war machines to Jordan
and the Saudis reflects a most
unattractive feature of politics: the
superficial shine that the White
House Press Office works hard to
produce.
The announcement should come

as no surprise. The White House
Press Office is quite candid about
their mission: to present the image
of an informed and polished
President, although the man ob-
viously suffers an advanced case of
foot-in-mouth disease - what the
Administration euphemizes as a
tendency to "mis-speak".
In a recent press conference,
Reagan told reporters that he
"didn't intend to say" that all for-
ms of segregation have been
eliminated in South Africa.
But the fact is that he said it.
Most frightening is that between
the things Reagan does intend to
say and do and those statements
and actions which are later billed
as accidental, is sufficient reason
to question the general knowledge,
wisdom and sincerity of the
President.
The present move is certainly not
of a sort unique to the Reagan ad-
ministration. Indeed, gestures are
an inherent part of politics. Never-
theless it is particularly disturbing
that the administration would offer
such meaningless conciliation to a
constituency he so deeply offended
so recently.
As the wars in the Middle East
multiply and intensify, the Ad-
ministration should resist
Xivializing the massacre with slick
political posturing.

WASHINGTON - When Gen. George S.
Patton was leading the U.S. Third Army on its;
extraordinary end run around the German;
flank in 1944, he suddenly found himself'
facing an unsuspected obstacle.
Ironically, the resistance came not from the
Wermacht of the Third Reich, but from Pat-
ton's own military superiors. Gen. Omar
Bradley informed Patton that he was tem-
porarily cutting off gasoline suplies needed by
Patton's tanks.
Patton was livid. "Right now, the weak spot
is here," he thundered to Bradley.
".s hToday I have precisely the right in-
strument at precisely the right moment in
exactly the right place. With a few miserable;
gallons of gasoline, we could be in Berlin in
ten days."
Bradley replied, "What about the German.
fortifications at Metz and Verdun?"
Patton then pounced. "Fixed for-
tifications," he replied, "are momuments to
the stupidity of man. When mountain ranges
and oceans could be overcome, anything built
by man can be overcome."
The course of military history provides
ample evidence to support Patton's assertion.
For every wall, humans have built a batering
ram. And, despite what some of the brightest'
military minds in America are telling us
today, there is no reason to think that things
will be any different with the Reagan ad-
ministration's Strategic Defense Initiative -
better known as Star Wars.
Few of us in Washington took great notice in
March 1983 when the president announced his
dream of making nuclear weapons "impotent
and obsolete." After all, the U.S. government
had once considered and dismissed the
possibility of defenses against nuclear
weapons, and in fact turned toward forging,
with the Soviet Union the 1972 ABM Treaty..
The treaty stands today as one of the few
steps away from our species' slow descent in-
to what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called "a
militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear
destruction."
But the Reagan magic held on Star Wars,:
Mrazek is a Democratic Congressional
Representative from New York.

and we now find ourselves dangerously close
to a point of no return on another questionable
weapons system. However, Star Wars is more
than just another missile or tank or aircraft
carrier. It represents nothing less than a fun-
damental reversal in geopolitical strategy, an:
evolutionary journey into the next - and
perhaps last - arena of human conflict.
It the arms race is to ascend toward the
stars, it would be only proper in the world's
greatest democracy if that decision was the
result of a reasoned public policy debate. Un-
fortunately, I see no evidence that this has oc-
curred. The people, in general, have little
idea of what Stat Wars really means. Until the
president announced his vision, the Pentagon
had no idea what Star Wars meant. And
they've been scrambling to make it up as they
go along, without "torturing the facts too
badly," as one of my colleagues has noted.
Onething that Star Wars means is money.
This immutable fact has hardly escaped the
notice of the nation's leading defense contrac-
tors, who not only are falling over each other
to jump aboard the Star Wars ba wagon but
also are being asked by the Pentagon to
assess its chances for success. Talk about
the foxes guarding the henhouse ...
The financial aspects of Star Wars also
have not gone unnoticed by the nation's
leading research universities. In these times,
research money is scarce. Now the Pentagon
is dangling buckets of it in front of our univer-
sities.
The result of this financial bonanza would
have been predictable except for the eccen-
tricities of the human conscience. For it now
seems that, after getting a good, hard look at
Star Wars, some of those entrusted with
making Star Wars a reality are deciding that
they will fight it.
The first blows came almost
simultaneously. First, David Parnas of the
University of Victoria, British Columbia of-
fered his resignation from the government
panel overseeing the computer aspects of
Star Wars.
Parnas, who took pains to point out that he
had no objections to defense efforts or defense
research, and who had previously acted as a
consultant to the Pentagon, had a simple ex-
planation: Star Wars won't work. "I am
willing to stake my professional reputation on

my conclusions," he asserted.
Next, the director of the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications at the Univer-
sity of Illinois, Larry Smarr, spoke for a
group of 47 physicists at the school who stated
they would not apply for or accept Star Wars
grants. His reasons were equally simple:
"-.. It will not do what it was meant to do,
and it will not anticipate everything the
enemy might throw at it."
Pity that Patton is not alive to give us his
thoughts.
Those of us who came of age in the 1960s
may have different ideas about the authority
of government and the ability to foment
change than today's college students. That
was then, this is now.
But as the civil-rights movement and the
Vietnam War protests and the environmental
re-awakening of America showed, the studen-
ts of the earlier era did not back down from a
challenge. Often, the results they realized
bordered on the amazing.
In the Strategic Defense Initiative, those of
you looking for an issue for the 1980s have just
been handed one on a silver platter. Perhaps
you will come to totally different conclusions
about Star Wars that those I have reached.
But you owe it to yourselves and to coming
generations to familiarize yourselves with the
issue, and to lean what role your school may
be playing in changing Star Wars from
popular science-fiction celluloid to orbiting
battle stations, supercomputers and laser
beams - all of which will function without the
"bother" of a human being at the controls.
In the days of reassessment following
Hiroshima, Albert Einstein offered two
thoughts for the ages. Of nuclear weapons, he
said, ". . . there is no defense, there is no
possibility of control except through the
aroused understanding and insistence of the
peoples of the world."
He also said, _ "the unleashed power of the
atom has changed everything except our way
of thinking."
Now, President Reagan has offered his ver-
sion of changed thinking. Is it the right way?
Can we afford not to know?
Copies of this article were dis.ributed to
college newspaper editors thro ghout the
country by Mrazek's staff.

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LETTERS
Daily should rethink 'code'stance

i

i

ONLY A WIZARD COULD 1I-IVE
ARRA"O QA OFICIf 5O LAR6G
C"S1 IN VC MF8TIC PROG9AMvS.. .

...OR~ ,A UNCE .

To the Daily:
Your editorial entitled "No
Code" (Daily, September 5) says
"Students must be ready to fight
any attempt by the ad-
ministration to limit students'
freedom of expression." In this
editorial, as well as that of Aug. 2
("On with the show") you also
state the thought "The primary
purpose of a university is
education, not guardianship. The
University should not place itself
in a position to shield students
from 'dangerous' or 'offensive'
subject matters."
Kery Murakami's article on ac-
tivism ("Activism still sparking
protests at 'U"'), also in the Sept.
5 issue recounts how the
representatives of the CIA, who
had planned a presentation to
c..au-i haMrar nata

the representatives out of the
building, and up two flights of
stairs in a parking structure to
the CIA car."
Is it the Daily's position that it
is okay for "about fifty students"
to shield others from
"dangerous" or "offensive" sub-

for severe University
disciplinary action."
Do the Daily editors believe
that students who prevent other
students from hearing a presen-
tation should not be subject to
some University sanctions?

-WilliamS. Sturgis
September 5
Sturgis is an administrative
representative to the Univer-
sity Council which is respon-
sible for drafting a new ver-
sion of the code.

." ".:U:v::". . ::.. ::.w.. ....... ..:: ..x . . . .:. . :"~i$ X; s}tK:"

The Opinion Page Editors of the
ichigan Daily are seeking hard-

ject matters? ......... ................ . .
The statement on freedom of ;:::;:... ..:. .
speech and artistic expression of
the Civil Liberties Board ends
with the following: Letters to the Daily should be typed, triple-spa and
"Because freedom of speech signed by the individual authors. Names will be with,. .. only
plays such a critical role in the
functioning of a university, inter- in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for clarity,
ference with the exercise of this grammar, and spelling.
freedom by members of the
University community is eviden-
ce of a blatant disregard for the
spirit of free intellectual inquiry :..: : .:...... .
and, as such, constitutes grounds
,AIR A - __ w Wa.IV vW- - - -

M

working, politically aware people to
join the Opinion Page staff in our 96th
near nf nublication. Interested students

I

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