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Minimum Arsenals

October 24, 1985

Bless James Kilpatrick for expressing what cannot be said too many times--that the nuclear arsenals are too large for any avowed purpose of defense, and that they could be cut by 90%, maybe 99%, without any danger to the security of the United States.

You don't have to be one of us "pacifist peaceniks" to know that things have gone too far. You don't have to love Soviet communism to know that we have gone about protecting our country the wrong way.

Kilpatrick is a conservative and an honest broker of information. He has written similar things throughout this decade's debate on nuclear weapons. What he must now face is the question, Why haven't his fellow conservatives been able to adopt such a common-sense point of view as he?

The area in which he must now seek his answer is political and economic. Ronald Reagan came to Washington with two Cold War items on his agenda: the rollback of communism, if possible, and the spending of huge sums on military procurement in any event. The 1980 Republican platform stated: "We will build toward a sustained defense expenditure sufficient to close the gap with the Soviets, and ultimately reach the position of military superiority that the American people demand." Note the emphasis on spending over defense, the phantom gap to be closed, and the destabilizing quest for superiority. In the emotional anguish over Iran, Americans swallowed this militaristic madness as they elected Reagan.

The left asserts that the heaviest foot on the arms race accelerator since 1945 has been the American one, and the right has done little to disprove them. In conservative circles, merely raising the subject of nuclear war is considered bad form, a sure sign of bleeding-heart leanings, or worse. Such myopic patriotism is a formula for political obsolescence if it is indeed a left-wing peace movement that eventually sweeps the missiles from our planet.

Kilpatrick is going to have to convince his fellow conservatives that making money is not more important than keeping your children alive, that you don't prove your love for country by forcing others into the position of "enemy" and then shaking your biggest stick at them, and by calling every effort the other side then makes to prevent war a "propaganda" display.

Where are the grown-ups? They are certainly not in the White House or most of Congress. I hope Kilpatrick can find more like himself among his fellow conservatives.


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