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Paying for Defense

November 29, 1987

Foreign leaders click their tongues and point fingers at America's budget and trade deficits ("From Abroad, U.S. Scored on Deficits," Business, Nov. 3). They say America must learn to live within her means. Their economies prosper on U.S. trade surpluses while America provides military defenses for their nations. All U.S. deficits since 1945 stem from our postwar decision to defend the non-communist world.

Washington officials should tell the foreign leaders that the free defense ride is over. A practical plan would include a five-year phased withdrawal of U.S. troops and weaponry from Europe, Japan, and Korea; the sale to host nations of the fixed equipment at overseas military bases, and the publication of a "consumer catalogue" of weapons in production, or in stockpiles, for sale to our allies on cash terms. Our forces should be redeployed to defend the continents of North and South America. American nuclear forces would still offer a credible backup deterrent to any threats against Europe, Japan or South Korea.

Consider the economic benefits of this redefinition of America's defense commitment: Sales of weapons to allies would provide employment in the United States while increasing exports; return of our overseas forces would slash balance of payments deficits; sale of equipment at overseas bases would provide cash to retire part of the accumulated deficit, and U.S. industries would get a breathing spell to catch up technologically, while foreign competitors invest research and development capital in military goods.

ROY McJUNKIN

Riverside

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