Two versions of national security are currently on display -- Ronald Reagan's and Ruth Sivard's. The 41-page Reagan document, ''National Security Strategy of the United States,'' produced in early 1987 and with a second edition scheduled for next month, was required by 1986 legislation.
Ruth Sivard, a former chief economist at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, released on Jan. 11 the 12th annual edition of ''World Military and Social Expenditures.'' The 56-page study -- published by World Priorities, a Washington research group, and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, SANE/FREEZE and other organizations -- is a meticulous and fresh-thinking gathering of facts and results of the United States' and 141 other nations' drives for national security.
Reagan writes, ''The foundation of a sound national-security strategy, laid in the early days of this administration, has held firm and served us well. Our economic, political and military power is resurgent.''
Sivard's findings refute each of those assertions.
Economically, she states, the GNP growth rate has slowed to 2.2 percent in the 1980s, down from 3.8 percent in the 1960s. By 1986, the share of the national income going to the poorest fifth of the population was 4.6 percent, the lowest in 34 years. The richest fifth took 43.7 percent of the income, the highest ever.
Politically, Reagan's foreign policy of arms sales, CIA covert or paramilitary operations, the maintaining of $8.4 billion worth of military bases abroad, the training of foreign military personnel and provision of $28 billion in military assistance in the past five years has helped create a world with less democracy. Of the 113 developing countries covered by Sivard, 52 percent are now under military control, twice the number in 1960.
Reagan's military power is of dubious worth and competence. Sivard reports that research on AIDS will receive $344 million in 1988, about 9 percent of the research funds for ''Star Wars.'' Those who wonder why American schools are failing while children from other countries are more academically advanced have part of the answer in Sivard's report: ''U.S. expenditures on education are barely three-fourths of military expenditures. West Germany, by comparison, spends 40 percent more on public education than on military defense, Japan five times more.''
Reagan's report is laced with lies. He writes that ''the dynamic growth of the U.S. economy is the envy of much of the world.'' The economy is dynamically diminishing, as the drop in GNP growth rate documents. No government has yet expressed envy of the United States' new ranking as the world's greatest debtor nation. Reagan says, ''We are now working in this country to rebuild American productivity'' and ''sustain our scientific leadership.'' Sivard reports that U.S. obsession with global military power has led it to adopt production policies opposite its economic partners': ''In the U.S., 25 percent of the government research budget relates to products for the civilian market; in Europe 70 percent is civilian. While the U.S. under the Strategic Computing Initiative spends $600 million on such specialized military applications of supercomputers as battle-management programs, Japan spends $700 million on the commercial applications of supercomputers.''
Of the two reports, Reagan's is negative, Sivard's positive. The president says no to a national self-examination on why we are first in military expenditures, nuclear tests and military aid to foreign countries but eighth in life expectancy, 18th in infant mortality and 20th in school-age population per teacher. He says no to seeing national security in anything but military terms.
Sivard says yes to the public's determination to keep pushing the United States and the Soviet Union to more nuclear-weapons reduction treaties. She answers yes to those who wonder whether they should keep working to reform a world that saw more wars fought in 1987 than any previous year, wars in which 80 percent of those who died were civilians.
Only Sivard's report is worth reading. It is connected to hope and life.