Readers write

Missile-defense idea endures for wrong reasons

The opinion piece by Timothy Snyder and Philip Snyder "Why missile defense is a bad idea" (Feb. 2) is a much-needed discussion. I would only hope they read it in the White House.

At one point the writers indicate that missile defense cannot be accomplished because of limitations in basic physics. I worked as a physicist all during the high-energy laser "star wars" period, as well as on several missile defense programs. Theoretically and in the laboratory, we proved that star-wars laser technologies would work and also that there are no physical barriers to building a viable missile defense system.

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The problem is in the engineering details. It will take a long time to work those out and will come at an extremely high cost to government.

The missile defense program has endured for two reasons. First, people at the highest levels of government, the military, and industry still believe in the concept of the enlightened bully. It will also provide employment to hundreds of thousands of technical workers, as well as provide massive funding to industry, universities, and government laboratories.

There are a great many "sandboxes" that were created in the last 20 years and it is a giant challenge to overcome the powerful interest groups that fiercely defend their turf.

We simply must start investing more time and resources in learning diplomatic principles and applying them to the problems of this new era. Continuing with the "smash 'em, bash 'em" philosophy will only waste resources and further alienate the rest of the world.

Terry Zaccone Saratoga, Calif.

Timothy Snyder and Philip Snyder argue in "Why missile defense is a bad idea" (Feb. 2) that "missile defense will not work" and that it will make "war much more likely."

I would remind them that we do not have enemies because we are armed, but we are armed because we have enemies. They are threatened, not by our weapons, but by our freedom, which they seek to destroy.

When President John F. Kennedy pledged that we would put a man on the moon in a decade, we did not have the technology, only the will.

A nation that can send satellites to map the moons of other planets has the technology to shoot down incoming missiles. The question is not whether we can build a missile defense, but whether we can afford not to?

Which is more important - building a space station or building a missile defense against an accidental or rogue-nation missile launch?

Daniel John Sobieski Chicago

Energy should be a priority

I read, with great interest, your Feb. 5 article "Million watt question: Can California conserve?" The headline should have read: Can the nation conserve?

I believe that energy conservation must be a national priority.

In the town of Greenburgh, N.Y., I am planning some initiatives that hopefully will set a positive example. In my 200l town budget I have announced plans to purchase town cars (for our fleet) that do not rely totally on gasoline. We are also considering moving the town hall to a more energy-efficient building.

Among my goals: The building should use some alternative energy sources for power. Government officials, at every level, must set a positive example. I hope that the town I am supervisor of will show that energy conservation and alternative energy makes sense.

Paul Feiner Town Supervisor Greenburgh, N.Y.

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