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Mr. Nitze's Change of Heart

Thursday, October 28, 2004; Page A24

In his well-crafted essay on Paul Nitze [" 'Our Old Fox,' " op-ed, Oct. 22], David Ignatius did not mention a critical shift in Mr. Nitze's thinking that occurred late in his career.

Like Ronald Reagan, the last president he served, Mr. Nitze came to understand that nuclear weapons were overpriced and dangerous relics of the Cold War.

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As he put it in a November 1999 essay, "I see no compelling reason why we should not unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons. To maintain them is costly and adds nothing to our security."

While Sen. John F. Kerry has come out against the Bush administration's plans for research on a new generation of low-yield and bunker-busting nuclear weapons -- an important difference to be sure -- neither candidate for the presidency has come close to embracing Mr. Nitze's radical yet well-considered proposal on the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

WILLIAM D. HARTUNG

New York


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