PRESIDENT BUSH'S move to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons and his "stand down" order ending four decades of Strategic Air Command alerts has prompted predictable calls from Congress to turn all America's swords into plowshares.
Typically, the lawmakers proposed defense cutbacks affecting other lawmakers' states. For example, Sen. Sam Nunn of aircraft-building Georgia called to an end to the ground- and space-based Strategic Defense Initiative, while contending America still needs large numbers of the B-2 bomber. SDI is a purely defensive project providing a high-technology umbrella against nuclear missile attacks.
Such nations as the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Byelorussia now rank right up there with the U.S. and Russia as nuclear powers, while several Middle East countries may have nuclear capabilities close to those of Iraq. As a result, new treaties must be drafted to reflect new realities and realignments in nuclear forces -- while SDI makes more sense now than it ever has.