President Reagan's decision to no longer be bound by the artificial limits of a flawed treaty that the Soviets no longer respect, and have been violating for some time, has provoked the wrath of certain commentators among the demi-learned, to whom arms control is an article of faith, and any treaty, no matter how besmirched, a holy relic. I refer to Richard N. Goodwin's column (Editorial Pages, June 13), "It's Now Our Duty to Take On Reagan's Undoing of SALT."
In the world of the real, arms treaties must be more than mere symbols; they are either effective in their purpose, or they are not. And, indeed, to view an "arms race" as the problem and "arms control" as the cure is to fundamentally miss the point, for the growth of arsenals is a reflection of the tensions between nations, not their cause; the symptom, not the disease.
Nations arm because they fear or despise one another, or both, or because one nation seeks dominion over the other, and the other would defend itself. In short, disarmament is a futile and illusory goal, for nations disarm only when tensions have abated, but, once tensions renew, they rearm again; thus, even if disarmament succeeds in the near term, over the longer term its success can only be fleeting, and for us to place our faith in a doctrine so discredited both by reason and by history is to display the most callous disregard for the cause of peace, and for the future of generations yet unborn.