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'Back to the Test Ban'

September 05, 1986

In your editorial (Aug. 20), "Back to the Test Ban," you state that ". . . a test ban cannot simply be declared; it must be negotiated." Why not? Why can't a moratorium be declared while we work for the "permanent, enforceable treaty" we all agree is needed? Wouldn't it show good faith and serious intent toward the negotiations?

In a world that spends in excess of $1.3 million dollars a minute on arms and has amassed more than 50,000 nuclear weapons, what possible harm could there be in simply taking a "breather" until Jan. 1?

We always come back to the same position of continuing the acceleration and buildup while we talk of wanting to get rid of the weapons. Our stockpiles (U.S. and U.S.S.R.'s) are so bloated now that the idea that one side or the other could "(feel) disadvantaged and compelled to break out of the agreement," really deserves examination.

We might "feel" that way because of the long experience of the who's-ahead litany we've been living with, but in reality what could it possibly mean? That between now and January they might be able to blow us up "many" times over while we could only blow them up "several" times over?

Washington rejected Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's proposal as a "propaganda ploy," but as responsible citizens we must question that stance. It may or may not be true, but the real question is, would the proposal be good for our nation and for the world?

In the long run, what is really going to make the world a safer place for everyone's grandchildren? Are we not, sooner or later, going to have to learn to live together in order to survive? This moratorium is an immediate, positive, low-risk step we could take toward that end.

Ultimately, Gorbachev's motivation is not the real issue, although it certainly seems possible to me that the man really does want to end the arms race and get on with the pressing problems in his own country. I know I'd certainly like for us to do that!

VALERIE STEVENSON

San Diego

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