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Monitor readers respond to nuclear issues

December 16, 1982



The Monitor ran a rather demanding 53-part questionnaire about nuclear weapons in the June 25 United States edition and Aug. 2 in the International edition.

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The unexpectedly large response and the care and thought put into the 1,238 replies indicate that many Monitor readers are deeply concerned about nuclear dangers. And they are clearly committed to the search for ways to save mankind from their threat.

The responses to the first 24 questions were published in Dec. 15 editions of the Monitor. Responses to the second half of the questionnaire follow below.

25a.Do you think a (nuclear) freeze could be made technically verifiable?

Yes: 53.5 percent.

No: 30.7 percent.

25b.Is verification of a freeze essential?

Yes: 68.3 percent.

No: 19.5 percent.

26.If you belong to the majority of American voters who told pollsters they think a freeze would be useful (arresting the arms race) but also think it would be harmful (perpetuating Soviet superiority), how do you reconcile these two contraries?

I don't belong.

Freeze in spite of risks.

We, as a people, will answer ''yes'' to a freeze, just to send a signal to those in power that this whole arms race is a fiasco and something (but not necessarily a freeze) must be done about it.

Most of the media are doing a brainwash job on us.

A longing for reality to be different. A longing to return to a time when there was an easy answer.

It can't be reconciled. But neither can most of these questions and answers.

27.The US should:

Continue to refuse to ratify SALT II, since that would endorse Moscow's maintenance of heavy missiles, while banning American missiles of equivalent weight: 16.9 percent.

Ratify SALT II, since (a)President Reagan has said the US will abide by it anyway. (b)the US has never wanted to build heavy missiles in any case, and (c)voluntary but unratified observance means the US doesn't get the benefit of the Soviet dismantling of more than 200 missiles required once the treaty takes legal effect: 54.7 percent.

Other: 16.1 percent.

Comments: SALT I-II are for those who believe in Santa Claus.

Proceed to a freeze. SALT II is old and being followed anyway but would be used to pacify the peace movement.

28.In the START negotiations in Geneva the US should:

Place stringent demands on the permitted weight of missiles, since this is an area where the Soviet Union leads and no agreement that doesn't curtail this is worth it: 21.7 percent.

Place stringent demands on the permitted weight of missiles, as a ploy to scuttle the negotiations while putting the blame on the Russians: 1.7 percent.

Play down the weight issue, since the US hasn't itself wanted to build heavy missiles anyway: 46.6 percent.

Comment: You lost me.

29.Do you think there is great danger of nuclear war from:

A pre-World War I type of arms race sliding into rather unintended war? 29.2 percent.

A pre-World War II appeasement of an expansionist power and thus feeding of its appetite? 17.8 percent.

Both: 40.7 percent.

Other:

Accident. Computer failure, etc.

Other countries (other than the superpowers) starting a nuclear war.

30.Which of the following is the major cause of the arms race?

The two superpowers are equally to blame for East-West confrontation and the arms race: 25.2 percent.

The Soviet Union is more to blame because of its ideology of world victory of communism, its own and proxy military interventions abroad, and its refusal to acknowledge legitimate security needs of neighbors and near-neighbors: 29 percent.

The US is more to blame because of its neoimperialism and military interventions abroad: 4.9 percent.

The arms race creates its own autonomous momentum of action and reaction: 55. 6 percent.

Other (including some who checked several boxes): 7.1 percent.