This month's letter writing target is the Parliamentary Committee that is investigating Canadian involvement in Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars).
The information that follows has been taken almost directly from a brochure on Star Wars that has been produced by the Toronto Peace Education Centre.
Star Wars is a five year, $25 billion research, development, and testing program that is intended to prepare the way toward making the United States invulnerable to nuclear ballistic missiles. It proposes an elaborate space-based weapon system consisting of lasers, X-rays, particle beams, and other sophisticated technologies. These weapons would be positioned in such a way as to enable them to destroy incoming ballistic missiles in one or other of the four stages of a ballistic missile's thirty minute flight.
Countermeasures: The simplest and cheapest way for the Soviet Union to counter the Star Wars defence would be for them to build a great many more ballistic missiles with multiple warheads (MIRV's) and for these warheads to contain a large number of decoys. A second way would be for the Soviet Union to begin to manufacture and deploy other non-ballistic missiles (i.e. missiles that do not leave the atmosphere), which are completely immune to Star Wars defence. Either case will lead to a massive acceleration of the arms race.
Reliability: The reliability of Star Wars will remain a mystery until the moment when it is attacked, at which time it will have to cope with at least 1400 enemy missiles within approximately 100 seconds. After that point, the number of targets will increase a hundredfold, as missiles split up into multiple warheads, decoys, and chaff. A 2 percent failure rate would mean the instant death of 40 million people.
Canadian Involvement: Canada has been invited to participate in Star Wars. However, this plan will fuel the arm race and make Canada less, not more, secure. Canadian involvement will create relatively few and specialized jobs Canadian economist, Mel Watkins, has said that the same investment in any other sector of the economy would produce as many as four times the number of jobs. Money spent on other areas will do more for the economy and product products that Canadians need and want. We do not need or want more weapons systems. Finally, the huge amount to be spent on Star Wars (an estimated $1 trillion!) will result in the deaths of millions of people, since it will rob the world of money needed for Third World aid.
Letters to the Parliamentary Committee on Star Wars should be addressed to Tom Hockin, Co-chairperson of the Committee, and mailed to: House of Commons, Ottawa. Ontario K1A 0A6. They require no postage.
Women's Action for Nuclear Disarmament. Should your group be interested in joining the NLWC, please write to us at Box 43, 70 King Street North, Waterloo, Ontario N2J 3Z6. Also, please send letter-writing suggestions.