Those Americans -- a minority, according to opinion polls -- who are disturbed about increases in defense spending and the development of major new weapons systems may have a friend in independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson.
The platform Anderson issued last weekend is notably less hawkish on defense matters, both in specifics and in its general tone, than the platforms adopted earlier this summer by the Republican and Democratic parties.
Anderson's is the only platform of the three that does not directly call for increased defense spending (although many specific proposals would clearly boost the budget); it is the only one that opposes development of the proposed MX movable missile, and it is the only one that questions the validity of the deterrence "triad" that has been a fundamental element of the nation's defense bulwak of the last two decades.
Anderson's defense program does not approach the positions taken by "minor party" presidential candidates Barry Commoner and Ed Clark, both of whom advocate sizable cuts in defense budgets. Instead, Anderson says he wants to enhance U.S. military power.
But he does not seem convinced, as President Carter and Ronald Reagan say they are, that more spending and big new programs are needed to assure the nation's security.
The Anderson "National Unity Campaign" platform calls for maintaining "essential equivalence" with the Soviets. And it says "we must spend what we need for defense."
But this declaration is followed by a page of text setting forth all the other claims on Americans' tax dollars and warning of potential disaster if defense spending is increased at the expense of important domestic programs. i
The Anderson platform specifically rejects any effort to set goals for budget increases. "What matters is what we buy with our defense dollars, not how much we incrementally change the budget," the document says.
Anderson's platform accepts the established thesis that mutual deterence is the best way to prevent a nuclear confrontation between the superpowers. But it suggests that the "triad" concept may not be necessary to guarantee America's deterrent force.
The 1980 Democratic and Republican platforms, like all major party platforms in recent history, implicitly accept the current "triad" system in which the United States maintains three different nuclear forces -- land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles and bombers -- aimed at the Soviet Union. To protect the land-based leg of the triad, the two major parties support development of the multibillion-dollar MX missile.
Anderson opposes the MX because of its cost, environmental impact and potential to spur new Soviet missile development. But the platform goes on to suggest that there may be no acceptable way to protect land-based missiles, and calls for discussion about reducing U.S. reliance on that part of the triad.
Anderson, who opposes the draft registration program President Carter established this year, also called for increasing pay and allowances and setting up a system of cash bonuses to keep the volunteer force structure strong, a program that would cost billions.
His views on relations with other countries generally parallel those of foreign policy liberals such as Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). His platform talks of cooperative efforts and negotiation with the Soviet Union to increase mutual understanding, and it comes out strongly for U.S. approval of strategic arms limitation agreements with Russia. It defends U.S. foreign aid programs.
Anderson says he wants U.S. allies to contribute more to joint defense efforts. Despite the platform's refusal to commit the United States to increased military spending, it expects U.S. allies to honor their side of the joint commitment to increase defense spending by 3 percent per year until 1984.
One exception, however, seems to be Japan. Anderson says that nation's current status -- "lightly armed," as the platform describes it -- contributes to East Asian stability. "An Anderson administration will not press Japan to expand its military capabilities" more than the Japanese want to, the platform says.
Anderson's platform deals, briefly with Iran, but offers no specific ideas for securing the release of the Americans held hostage there.