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'Star Wars' and Arms Control

October 09, 1987

Alan H. Luxenberg's article ("SDI, Arms Control Are Compatible," Op-Ed Page, Sept. 23) is nearly complete in its recitation of the myths and misperceptions that have allowed our nuclear arsenals to grow to such immensity.

Luxenberg leads off with the well-worn notion that nuclear weapons have prevented war between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. I can't argue with that, but how does Luxenberg extrapolate that fact into the statement, " . . . the most terrible weapons known to man have proved to be the most effective safeguards of peace?" This is, at best, a flawed conclusion.

As Luxenberg himself writes, " . . . wars have occurred specifically during the past 40 years (about 140 times). . . ."

Perhaps Luxenberg should have asked a Vietnam veteran, an Afghan rebel or a campesino caught in the cross fire in Nicaragua whether nuclear weapons preserve peace. Indeed, nuclear weapons have brought about a geopolitical situation unique in history. Instead of fighting each other at home, the Soviet Union and the U.S. confine their geopolitical maneuvering to militarily weaker nations abroad. What kind of peace is that? Although most of these conflicts have indigenous causes, the superpowers, without exception, justify their intervention by citing their adversary's role in the hostilities.

On the surface, and perhaps in Luxenberg's offices, the U.S. and the Soviet Union are not at war. However, in jungles and forests around the world, admittedly distant from our daily lives, bullets dispatched from Washington and Moscow are slamming into bodies from Managua to Kabul.

We can only speculate whether the world would be more or less violent, more or less free and more or less secure without nuclear weapons. To assume that we are safer, freer and more peaceful with nuclear weapons is to disregard the millions of people who have been killed, injured or denied their rights as a result of the Cold War, and to deny even the possibility that mankind could do better.



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