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'Back to the Test Ban'

September 05, 1986

Your editorial advocates a negotiated test ban treaty. While I agree that a treaty is better than a moratorium, a moratorium is certainly better than a continuation of nuclear tests.

The United States conducted 13 or more tests since the Russians stopped their testing. Any imaginable Russian advantage must have been matched by this series of tests--if there was a Russian advantage, which is highly doubtful, since we still maintain an edge in the sophistication of our weapons.

This is a rare moment of opportunity. The present Russian leadership is obviously interested in stopping or slowing the arms race. The condition of our economy would require the same. While the arms industry provides just enough activity for the external appearance of a "recovery," the signs are quite unhealthy.

Some people think that we can outproduce the Russians and force them to their knees by continuing the arms race. However, can we afford it? We continue to finance most of our armaments from deficits; we charge it to the next generation.

Politically, this means that the Administration really does not think that the American people are willing to accept a lower living standard for a "strong defense." Just as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon conducted the Vietnam War without asking for the equivalent sacrifices, this Administration promises prosperity and the continued arms race. Before the Russian leaders go to their knees they will simply ask and obtain the sacrifices they were always able to exact from their people.

Not to use the present opportunity is not in the interest of the great majority of the American people, even though many prosper from the arms race. But eventually we all will lose, and lose terribly in the attempt to preserve the world of the 1950s and early 1960s. Worst still, the very arms race increases the chance of an accidentally started nuclear war every day. That lies in the nature of modern weapons development, when computers replace human decisions.



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