Afghanistan parallels

Thank you for the comprehensive analysis ``After five years, Afghan war is bleak,'' by Edward Girardet, the brave, on-the-spot, journalist/observer (Dec. 27). I couldn't help drawing a parallel between Afghanistan -- now forcefully occupied by Red Army soldiers -- and the 1941 invasion by Nazi soldiers of my native Slovenia, in Yugoslavia. A teen-ager then, I was barely aware of the atrocities such occupation entailed, although I did witness some forced transports of peoples from their native land. Now, having learned much of what really went on during World War II, I cannot remain unmoved by the Soviets' performance in Afghanistan. Hilda Prpic University Heights, Ohio

The editorial on Afghanistan and the article by Joseph C. Harsch [International edition, Dec. 22-28] contained no reference to the fact that the Soviet Union is guilty of flagrant violation of a fundamental provision of the United Nations Charter -- that of unprovoked aggression and invasion of an innocent country. Had this been done by any other country the result would have been suspension from the UN. The fact that nothing has been done to expel Russia from the UN is a grave indictment of all member states, particularly the Western democracies who have manifested partiality and a surprising lack of moral courage. Malcolm Rose Durban, South Africa

Joseph Mayer's critique (``Don't rock the arms talks,'' Dec. 26) of my article on star wars argues that ``fundamental changes'' have occurred since 1972 which ``make a reexamination of the ABM Treaty long overdue.'' One thing hasn't changed. As Lt. Gen. James Abrahamson, manager of the star-wars effort, acknowledged, ``A perfect astrodome defense is not a realistic thing.'' Star wars cannot make our populations safe from nuclear attack. That is why star-wars advocates like Mayer now discuss building ``an effective defense'' and, as justification for such a program, point to ``the increased vulnerability of US forces to a Soviet first strike.'' The implication is obvious: The true aim of star wars is to protect not people, but nuclear missiles. The goal of such an effort is not entirely without merit; we must ensure that the Soviets will never believe they can destroy our forces in a first strike. But President Reagan's own Scowcroft Commission told us there was no ``window of vulnerability'' with respect to nuclear forces.

And star wars will only make matters worse. Neither side could afford to trust the other to maintain only a limited defense. An all-out race in ABMs and new offensive weapons to overcome or directly attack ABMs would result. The incentive to launch a first strike would go up, rather than down. A safer and cheaper solution to the vulnerability problem is arms control, specifically a freeze on the testing and deployment of US and Soviet missiles and reductions in existing arsenals. Like Mr. Mayer, I am not content to revel in the past accomplishments of arms control. But I believe we should build on those accomplishments, not abandon them.

As to the Soviet Siberian radar, it may well be a violation of the ABM Treaty. It poses no immediate threat to our security, but treaty violations cannot be condoned. President Reagan has a responsibility to press the Soviets on this issue and demand an adequate response. But it will not serve our interests to ditch an agreement which remains very much in our interest.

Contrary to Mr. Mayer's suggestion, I am well aware that the parties to the ABM Treaty left open the option of amending the treaty. But those who believe we can reduce nuclear arsenals and thus build a safer world knew then and now that ABM weapons only move us away from that goal. David Halperin The Arms Control Association Washington

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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