The presentation in the U.S.A. of the views of the Conservative government in Britain and the CDU/FDP government in the German Federal Republic as wholly supportive of Strategic Defense Initiative is misleading. Leading figures in both have expressed their reservations about anything beyond a limited research program. Both strongly advocate conformity to the SALT and ABM treaties as the best constraints on the arms race. As for the other democratic political parties of the center and left in Britain and Germany, none supports the SDI. The governments of Italy and the Low Countries are unenthusiastic. The government of France is strongly opposed.
Even the argument that European research will benefit from SDI funds is double-edged. Europe is desperately short of professional technologists and engineers in the field of information technology. . . . With half our scientists already engaged in defense research, much of it secret and inapplicable for civilian purposes, the last thing Europe needs is the diversion of more of its scientists and engineers toward defense.
What can be done? The one hopeful step toward a new arms control agreement is President Reagan's decision to stay with SALT II, anyway for the time being. The Soviet Union might be willing to trade a deep cut in land-based offensive missiles for an agreement limiting SDI research and reinforcing the existing ABM treaty. A decision to stop testing anti-satellite weapons systems would protect satellites, the eyes and ears of verification. And the Soviets would like to see a tough nonproliferation agreement, which is equally in the interests of the West.