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No technological fix can exist against warheads

(Editor's note: The Tech received this letter addressed to President Paul E. Gray '54.)

To the Editor:

I am writing to suggest a course of action that would compound the probability for the success of the proposed strategic defense initiative. If indeed the objective of the so-called Star Wars missile defense system is to remove the specter of nuclear holocaust from our lives, then relying on any single approach to prevent enemy warheads from landing on our soil would be strategically unwise.

It seems that the enormous amount of human, material and computing resources this country is preparing to allocate towards a "technological fix" for what is essentially a human problem, is tragically misdirected. Regardless of their opinions on whether or not the proposed SDI strategy is operationally feasible, all the authorities agree that it will require an enormous expenditure; for computing resources, highly trained, well-educated personnel and hardware on a scale heretofore unheard of -- even by the military. All directed towards monitoring, and destroying tens of thousands of incoming warheads. All that expense and effort buys is a chance, not a guarantee of zapping missiles.

It seems as though as it often seems is the case when we go to war, that some where along the line the point of it all has been obviated. Is it not the stated objective of defense forces to prevent the missiles on "other side" from reaching their targets on "our side."

At this point given the vast number of warheads that each side keeps pointed at each other and given what it will take to maybe intercept them, wouldn't it be worth directing at least part of our energies towards understanding and defusing the motivations that drive us to maintain and launch those missiles in the first place?

Is it any more outlandish to embark on a Global Defense Initiative to develop a knowledge base and implementation approach for the reduction of human war making tendency? What about a project to access and analyze historical, anthropological, psychological, sociological, literary, artistic and economistic knowledge bases in order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of those aspects of human existence that lead to the brutality, hostility, insecurity, fear and greed that fuel our warmaking?

Based upon this understanding research groups would proceed to suggest implementation of political, social, economic and cultural enterprises that would begin to reduce the factors that contribute to both psycho-social/socio-economic conditions that allow war to seem an acceptable solution to our problems.

It would be unreasonable to try to predict what the full scope of these suggestions might be. Some might range from channeling worldwide financial resources into an agenda of macro-engineering projects such as the greening of deserts or world wide ocean current electrical power stations, as already suggested by groups such as the Global Infrastructure Fund of the Mitsubishi Research Institute; to the design of physical environments for strategic meetings that would promote rational non-aggressive decision making based on clearly presented, well-organized information; to the restructuring of penal codes and cultural values so as to further devalue the prestige of brutal and belligerent behavior to providing an educational envivonment that encourages non-destructive self expression.

A major effort to improve the quality of life on a global scale would go a long way towards reducing the tensions that contribute to the historical "imperative" of human aggression.

The presidents of the major universities in this country are in a position to influence the allocation of intellectual energy for or against the prospects for peace and well being. A coordinated decision on the part of the majority of university presidents and/or boards of regents to impose a 50 percent surcharge on all military research projects to be redirected to a Global Peace and Quality of Life Initiative, would be the first step towards realizing a genuinely secure future for this planet.

Uriel Levi G->