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Defense and Deficit Debate

March 13, 1988

According to Cordesman, the Soviet Union is so far ahead of the United States in "killing power" with nuclear weapons, a "30% lead," that we are in grave peril. He urges us to beware of becoming "penny-wise and megaton-foolish." He cites numerous statistics to support his claim, all of which seem very unnerving--the Kremlin has 8.7 times as many artillery weapons, 3.2 times as many tanks, 5.3 times as many surface to air missiles, 300 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to NATO's 10. He also states the Reagan Administration increased defense spending for fiscal 1981-85 by a total of 44.2%, and that real increases had stopped three years ago, dropping by a total of 10.4%. That means defense spending still has a net increase of 33.8% over the past eight fiscal years. If we are so far behind the Soviets, where did all that money go?

I also would like to share a few numbers with you. One megaton is the equivalent of 80 Hiroshimas. A Titan II missile carries a 1.2 megaton blast, and with 450 active missiles that equals 45,000 Hiroshimas. The B-52 bomber carries the equivalent of 750 Hiroshimas. There are numerous other nuclear capabilities in our stockpiles, as well as the Soviet Union's. We haven't even gotten into the MX, the Poseidon fleet, or cruise missiles.

The Soviet Union and the United States have the power to destroy the world at least 100 times . . . how can either nation have a 30% lead in killing power? Among the 11 leading capitalist industrial nations, from 1960-79, the U.S. spent the largest percentage of its GNP on the military.

Should we continue to build more and more weapons, or should we invest in rebuilding our economy through the civilian sector?

Obviously, the waste of these weapons of destruction that we all pay for is enormous, for the U.S., the Soviets, as well as the rest of the world. How many more times do we need to be able to destroy the planet to be on top, in the lead, and number one? Isn't it time to find other solutions to global problems now that we are all held hostage by the threat of total annihilation? Perhaps now is the time to start on the path to true peace, for all life.

JOHN G. MENTO

Los Angeles

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