At Geneva we shall be reading a sermon to the Soviets to which they are unprepared to listen. That sermon propounds the supposed mutual advantages of strategic defense that the Soviets specifically rejected. It is based upon a "strategic concept" that in fact is less a strategic concept than it is a rationalization for the president's vision.

The concept in itself is fundamentally flawed. According to the concept, when strategic defenses are deployed, a so-called second phase will ensue. But the prospect of deployment of strategic defense in that second phase precludes attainment of the first phase, the radical reduction of offensive arms.

This is because the prospective depoyment of strategic defenses increases the premium on missile throw- weight and on offensive forces generally -- to overwhelm any prospective defense. The Americans are now prepared not only to read to the Soviets a sermon to which they will not listen, but one that is internally inconsistent.

In Geneva we must prepare for an extended period of siege warfare -- with the Soviets well positioned to exploit differences between our allies and ourselves. The United States has suddenly -- and without thinking the consequences through in advance -- altered the foundations on which East- West relations have rested.

That raises anew the question posed by de Tocqueville in the 1840s -- whether a democracy can adequately persevere in a fixed design or await the consequences of its measures with patience. For the Record

From an article by former secretary of defense James Schlesinger in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine:

At Geneva we shall be reading a sermon to the Soviets to which they are unprepared to listen. That sermon propounds the supposed mutual advantages of strategic defense that the Soviets specifically rejected. It is based upon a "strategic concept" that in fact is less a strategic concept than it is a rationalization for the president's vision.

The concept in itself is fundamentally flawed. According to the concept, when strategic defenses are deployed, a so-called second phase will ensue. But the prospect of deployment of strategic defense in that second phase precludes attainment of the first phase, the radical reduction of offensive arms.

This is because the prospective depoyment of strategic defenses increases the premium on missile throw- weight and on offensive forces generally -- to overwhelm any prospective defense. The Americans are now prepared not only to read to the Soviets a sermon to which they will not listen, but one that is internally inconsistent.

In Geneva we must prepare for an extended period of siege warfare -- with the Soviets well positioned to exploit differences between our allies and ourselves. The United States has suddenly -- and without thinking the consequences through in advance -- altered the foundations on which East- West relations have rested.

That raises anew the question posed by de Tocqueville in the 1840s -- whether a democracy can adequately persevere in a fixed design or await the consequences of its measures with patience.