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Are Soviets Leading Us Down the Garden Path?

May 04, 1985

Anent the present arms negotiations in Geneva, I wonder if the Soviets are not leading us down the garden path. Consider the following possibilities: Soviet science is sufficiently intelligent to recognize the inherent shortcomings of MX,. the B-1 bomber, and "Star Wars." Soviet political economists are sufficiently astute to recognize the economic drain imposed on the U.S. economy caused by investing in these programs.

Consider also, the Soviets play a lot of chess. We play a lot of poker. Perhaps what we call a chip, they all a gambit. From that perspective it is not inconceivable that the Soviets will maneuver to let us keep all of our bargaining chips.

And there we will be, standing tall, with gambit all over our face, defended by our three bargains. Chip No. 1, the MX missile, which could not decide whether it would ride the rails out West, like a hobo, or ride the subway under Utah, like an itinerant gopher, or inhabit a previously occupied Minuteman missile silo, much like the ferret who takes over from previous occupant.

Chip No. 2, the B-1 bomber, that on-again off-again delivery system is in need of work. Let us recognize the merit in maintaining technical capability in militarily sensitive industries. Also, let us recognize the added costs, and the strategic stupidity, of producing systems that will be outmoded by the time they come off the production line.

Chip No. 3, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) promises to expand the frontiers of science as it repeals the laws of probability. What kind of initiative did it take to market that con game? The scientific folk, who understand the technical problem, are less than optimistic about this project's feasibility; the statisticians, who understand probabilities better than they understand marketing, might be inspired to rename Star Wars to more accurately reflect its capability.

If they would accept a suggestion from a layman who has been influenced by scientists, I propose we call it "The WPA Defense System" in honor of those stalwarts who in the 1930s did much work building dams, parks, roads, and in general making America a better place, while improving the lot of the unemployed. Nevertheless, some statistics are available to show that these stalwarts, while grateful for the opportunity to work, did not work all the time.

Such is life in the real world, and the WPA and the Star Wars business. Now if the foregoing does come to pass because our leaders conned us, but not the Russians, what are the odds that some Super Communicator will try to convince us that we out-negotiated the Russians? Also, what are the odds that the Teflon is beginning to wear thin? New Deal anyone?



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