Dialogue in a time of trouble
(Page 2 of 2)
The Americans rejected this interpretation and pointed out that, in addition to being itself in clear violation of all accepted norms of international behavior, the invasion followed a series of Soviet military involvements in third-world countries -- Angola, Ethiopia, South Yemen -- which had progressively disillusioned American opinion with detente. The basic misjudgement the Soviet leaders had made, the Americans asserted, was in believing they could successfully pursue agreements with the US on matters such as arms control and trade, where substantial common interests exist, while at the very same time flouting and eventually outraging American opinion by repeated military intrusions into the third world. Far greater self- restraint in dealing with third-world conflicts would be required if recurrent and increasingly dangerous clashes between the two superpowers were to be avoided.Skip to next paragraph
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When it came to arms, both Americans and Soviets expressed deep concern at the probable consequences if the competition in weapons is allowed to escalate unchecked to ever more fantastic levels of technological complexity and destructiveness.The Soviets continued to manifest some hope that SALT II might be ratified and other arms control negotiations resumed, but the Americans offered them no encouragement that this would be possible while the Afghan invasion continues.
The Soviets reserved their strongest strictures for the projected deployment of new NATO intermediate-range missiles in Europe. They clearly did not regard them, as we did, as a balanced response to recent deployments of new Soviet weapons of similar range, but rather simply as weapons which could hit the Soviet homeland with less than ten minutes' notice. More disturbing was a Soviet warning that, just as US deployment of MIRV'd (multiple warhead) missiles had led to a Soviet deployment of similar weapons and thence to the vulnerability of American intercontinental missiles, so the projected deployment of US cruise missiles in Europe might lead to a Soviet deployment of similar missiles on submarines off our Atlantic and Pacific coasts with ranges sufficient to blanket all our cities.
Indeed the strongest impression left with me was that the Soviets, despite the aggressiveness they have shown in their excessive arms buildup and their intrusions into the third would, have still a sober consciousness of the unspeakable horror which thermonuclear war would inevitably inflict on both sides. Their consciousness of this horror is probably stronger than ours since they have already suffered appalling devastation in two world wars.
One can only pray that this perception will also penetrate the American conciousness more profoundly than it so far has, and that the futility and folly of military "solutions" in a nuclear age will lead both superpowers to much more rational conceptions of what "national security" really means.