Courtesy Reuters

Since President Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative in March of 1983, it has dominated Western discourse on international security. Throughout this debate, the issues addressed have ranged from technical feasibility to fiscal practicality to the implications of SDI for America’s alliance relations and the strategic balance. It is hardly surprising that SDI has provoked such controversy. Broadly speaking, the program entails a far-ranging effort to explore new concepts for ground- and space-based defense against ballistic missiles that might, in the president’s words, eventually render these weapons "impotent and obsolete."

Naturally, given its implications for the East-West deterrent relationship, SDI has been a lightning rod for Soviet criticism. Although much of its commentary has been patently propagandistic, the Kremlin’s pronouncements have also reflected deeper concerns about what SDI may portend for Soviet prospects in the long-term competition. That the program has figured so centrally in Soviet rhetoric and

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