According to "reliable military sources" (Times, Nov. 4), the contras committed a serious error in engaging Nicaraguan troops in conventional battle. The sources said that the contras are not equipped or trained for such battle and that the purpose of such warfare is to gain and hold territory, something that "obviously is not their purpose."
Statements such as this lend credibility to the view that nothing short of a massive U.S. invasion will result in the deposal of the Sandinista regime and lead one to ask what the purpose of contra support then is?
If the contras are incapable of taking Nicaragua without a substantial escalation in U.S. involvement and we do not perceive in the existence of the Sandinista regime a threat grave enough to warrant such escalation, then our present policy must aim at something other than the overthrow of that regime.
However, it can't be that we're trying to force the Sandinistas to the bargaining table--they're there--and surely we don't expect the contras to win by attrition--they've yet to hold a single Nicaraguan town.