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Nixon, Kissinger View on Arms

May 03, 1987

It is difficult for an ordinary citizen to contradict experts like Nixon and Kissinger on matters of arms treaties. But I wish to raise a simple point of logic on two issues: (a) linkage of a treaty to conventional balance and (b) linkage of a treaty to Soviet goals in Afghanistan and Central America.

The authors state that " . . . we must insist on the right of equal numbers of short-range missiles until the conventional balance is established. Otherwise, removing medium- and short-range nuclear weapons would simply make Europe safe for conventional war."

My answer to that is: So what? I'd rather have a conventional than a nuclear war in Europe. And if Europeans don't like Soviet superiority in conventional arms, they are perfectly free to go ahead and build up their conventional forces. They are rich, advanced nations, fully capable of defending their borders. Indeed, that is their responsibility, not ours.

Linking a treaty to Soviet goals in Afghanistan and Central America seems a needless complication to any arms agreement. If we object to Soviet adventures in various parts of the globe, what's to prevent us from adventuring in kind? We could cause severe problems if we supplied a lot of high-tech weaponry to Afghan freedom fighters--as the Soviets did for the North Vietnamese. Or, on a more peaceful scale, we could thoroughly undermine the Soviets by inundating the Eastern Bloc with American consumer goods. As the cocaine dealers of Colombia have proven, one does not require permission of a government to supply forbidden goods for which there is a great demand.

JOHN BARCHILON

Los Angeles

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