This presidential election may break the pattern of modern poll-driven campaigns, as the candidates are debating a genuine issue: strategic defense. And it presents an opportunity for Christians to offer a faith-based perspective.Gov. George W. Bush fired the opening salvo, proposing a post–Cold War defense policy that relies upon anti-missile defense (intercepting and destroying incoming missiles) and reduces strategic offensive weapons aimed at cities and civilians.Vice President Al Gore immediately labeled the plan "risky." And despite the president's recent move to defer any decision on antimissile defense to his successor, the Clinton administration reiterated its commitment to the 1972 ABM (antiballistic missile) Treaty. This forces the U.S. to rely on offensive strategic missiles and limits us to a single missile defense site.Clinton and Gore are thus standing by the Cold War model of two superpowers, using treaties to limit one another and missiles poised to attack if necessary. Bush sees a world in which there is only one superpower, with the U.S. free to make policy without the permission of former superpowers.This debate brings back a flood of memories. In 1971 President Nixon became alarmed by intelligence reports that the Soviets were developing defensive missiles. He put me in charge of persuading recalcitrant senators to approve a U.S. defensive missile system. I worked around the clock and we prevailed by one vote. This gave Nixon the bargaining chip he needed to force the Soviets to accept a treaty limiting anti-ballistic missiles, which was signed in 1972. We still had offensive superiority.We were elated. But it also meant continuing to rely upon intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for deterrence. ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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October 2, 2000

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