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'Prudent Yet Restrained'

October 30, 1987

The column is 99.9% bad news. One has to read the very last line to find even a glimmer of good news. The good news is that Summers is a "former" adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

If there is an idea in the article, it is "that measured response to the actions of our enemy is wrong militarily." All responses should be open ended, mindless and overwhelming. Any response which does not meet this description is doomed to failure, according to the colonel. I assume that the war colleges have altered their curriculum and that these tenets have been replaced with something more civilized.

Summers yearns for bygone days when we practiced true deterrence using an "overwhelming response to insignificant actions." The objective, according to Summers, is to make the "cost of aggression disproportionate to any conceivable gain."

Applying this logic to the Persian Gulf would require us to enter the Iran-Iraq conflict on the side of the Iranians, since they are of the victims of Iraqi aggression from the start of this unfortunate conflict. Such a course would be ludicrous.

I suggest that a more civilized, self-preserving attitude for this society would be to rely on diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy before resorting to force. Allan E. Goodman's article (Op-Ed Page, Oct. 23) correctly points out in his analysis of the Cuban missile crisis that President Kennedy "bent over backward" and "used every possible diplomatic and political tool" to avoid military confrontation and avoided a possible nuclear exchange.

In these dangerous times when mutual annihilation is just moments away, we must rely on every non-military tool at our disposal to avoid violent action which could trigger the end of the human species.


Monterey Park

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