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'Is Winning Arms Race Worth Living For?'

October 26, 1985

Thank you for Goodwin's comments about the surreal nature of the arms control debate.

The leadership of each side is saying to its people: "The potential destruction of human life on planet Earth is a risk our side must be willing to run in order to convince the other side that our commitment to national security is absolute."

In fact, the nuclear arms race has little to do with the threat to national security of a massive attack by one side against the other. The only occasion for the use of nuclear weapons in a war occurred when the United States had a monopoly on the Bomb and had no direct experience of what it would really do.

The demonstrated power of nuclear weapons has scared the hell out of the world and its leaders, but the leaders found in this fear an effective tool for promoting and preserving their worldwide interests.

What the arms race really has to do with is the acceptance by each superpower that it can throw its weight around with impunity. A conventional military engagement between the United States and the U.S.S.R. can quickly escalate to nuclear, so, as Goodwin points out, the U.S.S.R. is unchallenged in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe as is the United States in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.

GERALD L. HIRSCH

Marina del Rey

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