A US missile defense system is affordable

Regarding "Reality test for 'star wars' defense" (July 28): Three of the five people quoted in the article represent advocacy organizations that, in some way or another, have opposed missile defense for many years. As near as I can tell, the writer did not talk to a single proponent of missile defense. It's not surprising, therefore, that his article is infused with a tone of skepticism.

More important than the people he quoted is what he wrote - and didn't write. If I had to reduce the article to two sentences, it would read like this: 1) Political momentum seems to be building for the United States to deploy "some sort of defense" against ballistic missiles. 2) Unfortunately, "15 years and more than $56 billion after President Reagan's gauzy vision of creating a high-tech halo to guard America" we are "still years away from being able to deploy a workable system, and scientists may not even know until early next century whether they can develop all of the science needed to build it."

The first statement is accurate. The second is not.

Scientists are confident we can build an effective missile defense at an affordable cost - and deploy the system in four years or less. Politics is holding this up, not technology. It's time to end the needless delays.

Herb Berkowitz Washington Vice president The Heritage Foundation

A slippery grip on unruly children

Regarding the opinion article "Parents, get a grip on the brat generation" (Aug. 11): I am wholeheartedly in favor of the author's preference for a strict, no-nonsense upbringing of children.

However, there are always surprises in children's behavior, only to be discovered when you actually have a child - as is not the case with the author at this time.

Years ago I went shopping with a friend (who was then childless) and my 2-1/2 year-old daughter. While in a supermarket and for no apparent reason, our daughter laid herself out in the aisle and kicked and screamed. I scooped her up and fled the market.

I was embarrassed when my friend shook her head disapprovingly and remarked, "My child will never act like that." I knew I had not been a permissive parent, but this was not the time to examine my parental habits.

A few years later, the same friend's 2-1/2 year-old son behaved in a similar way in a more fashionable store. She was horrified. She did not know whether to leave him on the floor or evacuate. She had to eat crow.

What is the right solution when your child has a temper tantrum? I am not sure, and my advice to the author is, "wait and see" before you judge.

Joan Lewis Yonkers, N.Y.

Bring back the draft

Your "Soldier Shortage" series (Aug. 5, 6, 9, 10) is very interesting to me. I enlisted in the Army in the 1950s first as a volunteer infantryman, and then for 33 years as a reservist.

Yes, there is a cultural change that has led to this shortage. This change was brought about by ending the draft. Now we have fewer and fewer people on the outside with a factual knowledge of the military, and we have a military that has grown insular without the democratizing infusion of draftees.

True, the draft was not a burden that was fairly distributed. President Eisenhower's "universal military service" doctrine never reached its lofty goal.

Unfortunately, we chose to end the draft rather than cure its inequities. We now are poorer nationally and militarily because of that choice.

Howard Dudley Jr. Garden Grove, Calif.

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