We must accept the fact that there is no such thing any more as being No. 1. in military matters. If we try, we run the risk of suicide.
I bring this up because another group dedicated to military superiority has just formed in the Congress. It is called the Coalition for Peace Through Strength and, like its sister organizations - the American Security Council, the Committee on the Present Danger and a number of others - it is dedicated to achieving and maintaining, "military superiority over Moscow."
Maybe those people get a certain satisfaction out of crying alarm. Maybe they fancy themselves as modern-day Paul Reveres. Consciously or unconsciously, they are, of course, fronting for an enormous weapons industry, which wants to build bombers and ships the Pentagon has declared unnecessary.
But whatever their reasons for talking nonsense, nonsense is what these people are talking. They want to embark on a huge civil-defense program, build more missiles, beef up our conventional forces, build a bigger Navy and Air Force.
And what will the Russians do? Why, of course, they will then do precisely the same thing. We can both spend ourselves into bankruptcy while the Japanese become the world's leading economic power.
All the spending in the world will not change the strategic balance, which rests today exactly where it did when Winston Churchill defined peace as "mutual terror." Each side knows that if it strikes first, the other can retaliate. Each side knows that if it strikes to kill, the other can and will kill before it dies.
Peace should not depend on mutual knowledge of possible obliteration, but it is a fact. And all of us, owing our lives to the balance of terror, ought to be wary of efforts to upset that balance.
Because, of course, there is always the possibility that, if one side believes the other is achieving real superiority, some dangerous or desperate act may ensue.
We know, for example, that the Soviet Union is building up its forces in Eastern Europe to a level our secretary of defense estimates at "2 to 1 or more." We don't quite understand this. Some people think the Russians are only doing what they have always done, which is to try to maintain superior strength along their own borders. Others suspect they have or will develop offensive on Western Europe.
What do we do about this? Obviously we do not let the Russians achieve such superiority along their own borders as to tempt them to adventure. We maintain a NATO force that is capable of holding the pass.
Also, we obviously take counsel with our allies, and we talk with the Russians to see if we can determine why they are building up their conventional forces and whether we can reach some agreement, tacit or otherwise, in limiting the buildup.
But the one thing we must not do is to try to scare hell out of the Russians by embarking on an effort to be stronger than they are along their own borders.
The peace of mutual terror requires care, wariness, restraint and vigilance.
But the one thing that might destroy it is a chauvinistic determination to be No. 1