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'Reagan Can Only Lose at Summit'

October 15, 1985

Barnes' assertion that the forthcoming summit talks between President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev has caused "jitters" in the White House and the top Administration echelons seems true enough, but the problem is not the agenda, as he would have us believe.

In reality it is that the military-industrial complex, which has fared so well under this Administration and perceives it has obviously something to lose from an arms-control agreement that would include effective weapon limitations or reductions. As an additional concern, it is inevitable now that summit bargaining on a slowdown or cutbacks in the SDI programs will be forced on the President. This could reduce further opportunities that the defense industries are already jockeying for.

Barnes sidesteps this by comforting us that "both sides, after all, have nuclear arsenals large enough to obliterate mankind," constituting what he calls a "moral" parity! (Mr. Barnes, we can obliterate each other 10 times over--how much more moral does that make anything?)

No, Barnes recommends discussing such issues as Afghanistan and human rights for in these subjects the United States could then raise the flag of "moral righteousness" and succeed at the summit with a virtue the world could not fail to applaud! What hypocritical nonsense!

Even now, President Reagan is signing a document abrogating recognition of the World Court as it reviews and investigates the conduct of our Administration and its agencies in Nicaragua. Concurrently, more funds are being sought to provide El Salvador and Guatemala with more weaponry to destroy their own people, and to militarize the neutral nation of Costa Rica. The thousands of refugees created in the Central American countries pour across our borders, fleeing the atrocities caused by our military interferences, only to be refused and then returned to an inevitable fate.

I wonder if, in fact, such issues would make a more rewarding agenda. Suppose we as a nation can safely live in such a glass house. Does then clinging to an outmoded way of thinking, that retains the ability to blow up our world ten times over, offer a solution to our problems? Without our planet, I think not.

Barnes goes on to say that should President Reagan bargain away "Star Wars," his credibility as a national leader would sag. I must agree that our very popular President will fritter away his credibility. This will be for many more reasons, however, than just for bargaining away "Star Wars."

After all, this is only a trillion-dollar program that promises to escalate our national debt, further bankrupt our economy, will not do what is claimed and, in the opinion of many experts, will more likely be used as a preemptive offensive weapon than a defensive one. In any case, it promises to escalate the arms race to even more preposterous proportions.

It is true that our President faces problems when he meets the Russians in Geneva. The biggest problem, however, could very well be Reagan himself, together with his ignorance and his subsequent delusions covered over so far by his "Teflon suit." Our media and indeed, the American people as a whole, have enjoyed the Reagan charm and charisma, glossing over the well-known fact that he is the least informed and knowledgeable President on foreign affairs in the entire postwar period. Held up by prompters, props and scripts, his "nice guy" image and ability to give simple "one-liners," not solutions, to complex problems has certainly endeared him to the American heart. Unfortunately, his decisions have been running into increasing troubles of late, forcing a greater need of compromise, flip-flopping and confusion as preparations for the summit proceed.

What is more, ignorance has a way of making our favorite "Great Communicator" an easy target for manipulation, as our fat and overly indulged defense industry has known for some time.

It is no small wonder that Washington feels jittery. What do you do with a charming puppet on a stage where it is difficult to discreetly work the strings and no easy way to bring the curtains down?



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