WAR IN SPACE by James Canan


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A putative exposÉ by Newsweek's Pentagon correspondent of Soviet efforts to develop weapons systems for use in space, with recommendations for (specific and distinct) US defense weapons. The content consists, first, of American intelligence reports that the Soviets are experimenting with laser beams for use in space (lasers work best in space's emptiness) and with such tricky devices as killer satellites designed, like their submarine counterparts, to kill other satellites. These evil tidings are put in the context of limited US spending on defense and debates over how those dollars will be allocated. Then Canan diverges into the Carter-administration struggles over weapons systems like the B-I bomber and cruise missile--which, though high-tech, are tangential to his main concern. Even his discussion of the newly-revealed Soviet missile-guidance system that turned Defense Secretary Harold Brown into an MX proponent is beside the point: intercontinental ballistic missiles may pass through space, but their field of operation is earth. What Canan is really peddling, it turns out, is the idea of missile-destroying laser beams from satellites as an adequate defense against ICBMs. Laser beam technology thus becomes the answer to arms control. Much recent writing on defense, by contrast (Mary Kaldor's The Baroque Arsenal, James Fallows' National Defense), counsels less reliance on high technology, more on conventional ways-and-means. But Canan's presentation is not so much an argument, overall, as a public-interest ad for General Dynamics and other space-industry components, using Soviet initiatives as a hook and a spur.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Harper & Row