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U.S. Defense Spending Policy

March 01, 1985

Brian Green's essay (Editorial Pages, Feb. 5), "Defense Cuts Would Be Isolationism," shows a typical right-wing bias concerning budget-cutting.

Defense cuts do indeed force concessions in U.S. military policy: with less money to spend, the Pentagon might have to cease covert aid to Nicaraguan guerrillas or forgo its latest nuclear "bargaining chip." But such losses would hardly endanger the welfare of the world, and might even save the lives of some of our soldiers who would otherwise be killed in supporting our "interests."

But domestic spending cuts can and do cause immediate hardship: every college student on a low budget, every veteran down on his luck, every small farmer trying to make a living, would be hurt by the kinds of social program cuts proposed.

Our budget-cutters should keep their priorities straight, and should give the welfare of our people precedence over the deadliness of our bombs.

ANDREW SABL

Los Angeles

I read with interest Green's article regarding defense spending and wonder why we see so little discussion regarding the basic premise of his argument. Let me suggest a simple example. Suppose the two us decide to go out for lunch and we agree that a very satisfactory meal will cost us $10 each. If I have $15 and you have $100 that fact in no way affects our being able to purchase the meal. Any extra amount of cash becomes an interesting but irrelevant fact.

So far as defense spending is concerned, we have little discussion as to how much spending is really needed. Yes, Green does tell us that the Soviets will build 2,300 new tanks, 4,500 other armored vehicles and 9 major warships. What does that tell us? It tells us that our defense strategy is based on matching whatever the Soviets do. We have followed this strategy in regard to nuclear weapons and we and the Soviets now have 50,000 nuclear weapons between us; experts contend 400 would effectively end life on the planet.

Green is basically saying that any diminution of spending either makes us weak or isolationist, thus becoming undependable allies whose actions will, in effect, lead to the takeover of the world by the Soviets. This is a conclusion often arrived at by those who believe that military might will lead to global security.

Yet we must seriously question this line of reasoning. Are we more secure spending close to $300 billion on defense? With a missile able to reach critical targets in a few minutes either here or in the U.S.S.R., security is less dependable now than in the past.

The obvious fact is that defense spending is a perfect way to defer dealing with the fact that cooperation is required if life is to continue on our planet. And before you say that the Soviets cannot be trusted, ask yourself this question: What choice do we have? New realities demand new thinking, and we need to see that war is obsolete as a means of resolving conflict.

NICHOLAS R. RAY

Sherman Oaks

There are two points that trouble me in the Doyle McManus' article (Feb. 1), "Power Shift Back to U.S. Seen." Secretary of State George P. Shultz appears joyous that the Soviets are having difficulties, so that the global balance of power has tipped toward the United States. He and Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger also want greater willingness to use force to advance American interests.

Should the United States have greater military power than the Soviets? I may sound naive, but I believe we have always sought a fair and equitable balance of power. In that case why is the secretary of state, the U.S. top negotiator, happy to see an imbalance of power? Why did the U.S. government whine and complain when the balance of power swung toward the Soviets? Shouldn't the United States be seeking an equal sharing of power with the Soviets and everyone else on this planet?

The gunboat diplomacy that these two men propose didn't work so well in the early part of this century. Why are they resurrecting it? I, for one, do not want to see Americans killed to advance American interests.

Finally, how can we have faith in our peace negotiators when they propose such actions?

CARLOS E. GUTIERREZ

Fullerton

What exactly is Ronald Reagan, the "Great Communicator," communicating now? He's telling us that in order to defend ourselves from the Soviet threat the United States needs to spend even more money on defense. More weapons to battle that illusive bear in the woods, the bear that some of us see and some of us don't.

How much longer must we be subjected to the twisted logic that says military strength is security? I sure don't feel any more secure knowing that the Reagan Administration believes it more important to allocate money for guns than to people.

LYNNE WATENPAUGH

Los Angeles

I disagree with your editorial (Jan. 31), "The Disappearing Dollars," in which you tried to blame the budget and economic woes on defense spending and President Reagan's tax cuts.

The Reagan Administration does put a lot of money into defense, but this is the price America has to pay to stay secure and free. Right now, as talks with the Soviets on reducing nuclear weapons come closer, it is more important than ever to keep defense spending level. We must have something to bargain with the Soviets, or you can bet that defense spending really will keep increasing.

Although defense spending does mean a higher deficit, we can find other deficit components to cut back on for the time being.

You also criticized the President's tax cuts as a cause of the deficit. Contrary to what you say, it helped get the economy going again, as our current state budget surplus shows.

I feel that the Reagan Administration does not have all the answers, but that it has been the best we have had in a while.

MICHAEL E. HOOK

San Pedro

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