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'Shooting Gallery'

October 18, 1987

Your editorial informs us that with the Soviet test-firing of two long-range missiles dangerously close to Hawaii, the Soviets are "surely . . . not trying to sabotage progress towards arms control and better relations with the United States." Very well, but what do such actions tell us?

Are they, along with other actions such as the murder of Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. in 1985, the shooting down of KAL 007, the kidnaping of Nicholas Daniloff, the frequent intrusions of Soviet submarines into Swedish waters . . . telling us what we want to hear, or what we refuse to acknowledge? Again, what do they tell us as to the Soviet world outlook? What of the methodology they call upon in their conduct of international relations?

Are we looking at what amounts to no more than a collection of unfortunate yet isolated incidents, or are there implications here whose relevance is greater than the sum of the individual parts? Let's keep in mind then that seeking arms control agreements and better relations with the Soviet Union is fine provided that such policies are formulated and conducted with due respect for the sober and tangible realities of provocative Soviet actions--not the heady optimism of The Times' editorial writers. For the Soviets, history tells us that actions do speak louder than words, especially when those words are intended for "bourgeois" consumption.

CHARLES WELLING

Irvine

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