U.S. Rep. Robert Badham told an Orange Coast College audience Friday that the Reagan Administration's spending on weapons is a "sign of resolve" that has brought the Soviet Union back to the arms-control bargaining table.
Speaking on the final day of a five-day, student-sponsored forum on nuclear arms and national security, the Newport Beach Republican said the Administration's so-called "Star Wars" plan for neutralizing nuclear weapons from space "will help bring our people into the 21st Century with less fear of nuclear war."
Badham, a veteran of the House Armed Services Committee, disagreed with Administration and Pentagon classification of intelligence information on the Soviet military buildup. He said that if citizens had access to much of the information that he has, there would be less opposition to the U.S. buildup.
In the discussion period after the congressman's 35-minute speech, members of the audience, a crowd of more than 100 that filled a room of the college Administration Building, aimed some barbs at U.S. nuclear policy and at some of the nation's actions abroad. Badham said he agreed with some of the criticisms.
Mutual View of War
He told the group that both superpowers view nuclear war as "dumb, ludicrous and ridiculous," and said neither side believes that once a nuclear exchange starts, there will be "any survivability of an acceptable type or quality."
But he said U.S. efforts in the 1960s and '70s to cut back on nuclear arms unilaterally were met by a Soviet military buildup that threatened the balance of power and necessitated the current U.S. response.
The Soviets "only come to the bargaining table if it is to their advantage to do so," Badham said. He said the arms-control talks that opened this week were possible only because Soviet officials saw the unity of the Western alliance and its resolve to build and deploy new weapons.
Badham said the U.S. strategy is necessary because the Soviet system is not based on group decision-making involving an informed populace, but on the withholding of information and lying--both as a negotiating strategy and in internal power struggles among the Soviet elite.
To one person who questioned U.S. covert activities in Central and South America, Badham replied, "I regret some of the things my government has done under cover." He said there is need for some covert action, however, and added, "Unfortunately, in the real world, there is intrigue."
Debunks Peace Missions
He also called Soviet visitors' peace missions to the United States a fraud. He said such groups either are sanctioned by the Kremlin or are given incomplete information about superpower relations and actions.
Gregory Brokaw, chairman of the student committee that organized the forum, said the workshop-style sessions had attracted large audiences all week. He said the forum strived to present viewpoints on both sides of the arms-race issue.
Other speakers during the week included military officers, a representative of the anti-nuclear Alliance for Survival, and Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran, who is a nuclear freeze advocate.