I may not have been reading the newspapers too carefully lately, but I haven't seen the word "peace" mentioned by one person in the Reagan administration.
When I brought this up with someone on the Reagan team, he said it wasn't true. "We talk about peace all the time. But we don't make a big deal of it."
"How do you talk about peace?" I asked him.
"We've called for the placing of neutron bombs in Europe, the installation of an MX system, revival of the B-1 bomber, the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia, and the building of a three-ocean Navy. If that isn't talking about peace, I don't know what is."
"You can't have peace unless you have strength. The more weapons you have, the less chance there is of someone starting another war. It's the people who talk about peace all the time that are endangering it."
"Does the Reagan administration have an embargo on the word 'peace'?"
"We're not censoring anyone, but if some high administration official wants to use it in a speech, he'd have to clear it with the White House."
"It's very dangerous to talk about peace because we could be sending the wrong signal to the Soviets."
"You believe the more you talk about going to war with the Russians, the more impressed they'll be that you are seeking peace."
"Exactly. Everytime we announce a new weapon, they know our only reason for building it is to assure ourselves that they will think twice about starting a war."
"But suppose someone in the Kremilin belives that you are building the weapon for offensive purposes and decides to test us. What do we do then?"
"We go with everything we've got. If they can't read our signals properly they're in a lot of trouble."
"Then they go with everything they've got, and there goes your peace strategy."
"The Soviets talk about peace all the time, but all they're doing is preparing for war. We talk aobut war all the time, but we're really preparing for peace. If we talked about peace they would be sure we wanted to start a war."
"Couldn't we just have one person in the administration who thinks in terms of peace?"
"We do, but nobody listens to him."
"What's his name?"
"We can't tell you or the hawks on the Hill will want to fire him."
"There are some Americans who are getting very nervous about all this war talk."
"You can't worry about them. There have been peaceniks since time immemorial. But they haven't learned anything from history. The only way we can have peace in our time is to make sure everyone has enough stuff to kill everybody else."
"So the Reagan administration believes the road to peace is to arm everybody."
"Not everybody. Just our friends. By giving AWACS to the Saudis we are assuring their peace."
"How do you assure the Israelis their peace if they know the Saudis have AWACS?"
"We supply the Israelis with long-range fighter planes to shoot down the AWACS."
"And ad infinitum?"
"Something like that. To parapharase General Custer, 'Peace is too dangerous to be left to civilians.'"