I seem to have done it again--upset George Will, that is ("Nuclear War: A Reply to Ellen Goodman and Others"). In his rather peevish reaction to my mild if maladroit comment at Harvard on European concern about limited nuclear war, Will credits me with a "record of refuted theories and discredited policies."
Chief on his list is the assertion that I negotiated "SALT II agreements so imbalanced against the United States and so permissive toward the Soviet Union that a Democratic president could not get them accepted by a Democratic-controlled Senate." Will should not ignore the contributions to the SALT II treaty of my predecessors in Republican administrations. Nor should he overlook the willingness of the present Republican administration to live with the provisions of that treaty. Eugene Rostow, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, has said that "there is nothing that we want to do or have decided to do that is incompatible with the treaty." This is no accident. The Joint Chiefs of Staff testified in 1979 that "there are a number of important restrictions in SALT II which operate primarily to our advantage" and that the "limits on the U.S. are quite nominal."
Statements by members of the Soviet leadership that they, too, are doing nothing inconsistent with the SALT II restrictions are encouraging and provide a framework within which the pending talks on the longer-range theater nuclear forces can proceed. This informal reciprocal adherence is, however, not quite the equivalent of treaty ratification. Had the treaty been ratified, the Soviet Union would have been required by the end of next month to complete a 10 percent cut in its strategic nuclear delivery systems. The "hard-nosed" approach for which Will is an eloquent spokesman has spared them this inconvenience.