"star Wars" Debate: Strategic Defense Initiative And Anti-Satellite Weapons

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies


President Reagan in the "Star Wars" speech of March 23, 1983, promised that the "Star Wars" defense make the world much safer and more peaceful. This dissertation attempts to examine his "Star Wars" commitment. The hypothesis of this dissertation is the "Star Wars" would rather enhance the probability of confrontation between the two superpowers. The hypothesis is assessed by several criteria: technological feasibility; compatibility with the ABM Treaty; Soviet responses to the SDI program; implications for deterrence and arms control prospects; and implications for the security of NATO Europe.SDI's technological feasibility is very questionable, given that its defensive mission is not only to intercept all incoming warheads, but to overcome Soviet countermeasures and to survive ASAT attacks. SDI is not unlawful, as long as it is a research program--a laboratory testing program. But it would soon conflict with the ABM Treaty when field testing is initiated. Soviet responses have been continually hostile and negative. They have several major themes. (a) SDI is an essential component of a U.S. first-strike posture. (b) SDI is dangerous because it enhances a first-strike incentive and encourages the arms race. (c) SDI is incompatible with the ABM Treaty. (d) SDI is technologically unfeasible. (e) SDI challenges Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). SDI's implications for deterrence are very questionable, given the Soviet perception that SDI is a component of a U.S. first-strike posture. SDI's implications for arms control prospects are also dubious. If the United States upgrades defensive potential, the Soviets would be compelled to increase a retaliatory capability vis-a-vis the upgraded U.S. defensive potential. Under such circumstances, drastic reduction of offensive capability by arms control measures is the option least preferable to the Soviets. SDI's implications for the security of NATO Europe are further negative. While SDI might be an attractive option to address the security dilemma deriving from NATO's conventional inferiority vis-a-vis the Warsaw Pact, it would enhance the probability of Soviet preemption, in light of the Soviet perception that the Pershing II deployment combined with SDI constitutes a U.S. first-strike posture.The "Star Wars" defense would not make the world much safer and more peaceful, as promised, but rather render international peace and security more precarious and destabilized by increased mutual distrust, suspicion and risk of nuclear war.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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