All Commentary
Wednesday, August 1, 1984

Book Review: We Must Defend America by Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham (High Frontier, 1010 Vermont Ave., Suite 100, Washington, D.C. 20005), 1983


114 pages • $2.95 paperback

Nuclear weaponry presents several vexing problems to libertarians concerned that the use of force in self-defense must be in a morally permissible fashion. Philip Lawler has delineated the issues in the Fall 1983 Intercollegiate Review: “A just war must conform to two sets of con ditions: those that define the circumstances under which a war may be waged (ius ad bellum), and those that define the permissible standards for the conduct of war (ius in bello).” Offensive nuclear weaponry is problematic especially as regards the second criterion.

Along comes Lt. Gen. Daniel O. Graham with a well-written and stirring book born of his experience as project director of the private and independent High Frontier project which addresses just these problems.

In his book, General Graham outlines a nonpacifist strategy for survival in the nuclear age which concentrates on defensive weaponry, rather than offensive weaponry. Using technology already available twenty-five years ago, Graham believes and convincingly argues that an anti- missile satellite system which uses the so-called kinetic energy kill rather than the more sophisticated “beam weaponry” much discussed nowadays could easily, inexpensively, and rap idly be deployed without any of the moral problems that offensive nuclear weaponry and the associated philosophy of mutual assured destruction of whole populations entail.

But General Graham goes beyond his exciting, but nontechnical suggestions for a military defense against the nuclear threat. He also calls upon America to develop the high frontier of space for commercial purposes. The advantages of space manufacture are numerous and Graham explains them clearly: near-perfect vacuum, lack of gravity, sterility, unlimited heat absorption (the temperature in space is four degrees above absolute zero), and easily accessible solar power. Graham calls upon government to exercise its night watchman function in space, so that private enterprise can produce goods there more cheaply and efficiently than would be possible on Earth. Unfortunately, he writes, “government has yet to provide the security required in space for private investment.” One of the obstacles is, hardly surprisingly, the United Nations with its redistributionist philosophies.

The book is remarkable for its use of historical metaphor, its clarity and brevity, and its adherence to a libertarian defense and economic space policy. Its only flaw is that because it was apparently written in haste, some illustrations are missing and the proofreading is inadequate. It is most highly recommended.