For some time now, I have been receiving misguided missives from people who are worried about reports that the United States is planning to add 17,000 nuclear bombs to the 25,000 already stored in sundry silos, submarines and stockpiles.
Some of them even wonder why we want more nukes. Since our bombs and their bombs and everybody else's bombs can already extinguish the human race, why, they ask, do we need the power to over-extinguish?
Just last week, for example, while Cheyenne, Wyo., and Albuquerque were cheering the president's promise of peace and security through strength and megatons, radicals at town meetings throughout the seditious state of Vermont were voting to freeze the manufacture of any more nukes.
Well, I confess, I was also once concerned. I worried mightily when I discovered that radiation could pass right through the window of vulnerability even after it was closed.
But I have finally realized that the 17,000 bombs aren't really for national defense. They must be part of the New Nuke Federalism.
After all, some folks have long wondered why only Big Daddy on the Potomac should have the bomb. Why shouldn't states have some sovereignty of their own in this matter? Why, furthermore, shouldn't we restore community control, and have a nuke for every neighborhood?
Some wimpy types may find this notion alarming. But these are people who do not understand the Deterrence Doctrine, which states quite clearly that the best way to keep the peace is with a strong defense. If this is true in international affairs, surely it is true in domestic affairs.
The Deterrence Doctrine would come in particularly handy for Sun Belt states, which are getting downright angry at northern states for shipping off their unemployed to sunnier cities.
Furthermore, if a nuclear bomb is good for deterring international war, the government figures it would be nifty for the war on crime. Cities hard- pressed to safeguard their local gentry would undoubtedly feel comforted by placing a small sign in their home windows: This Town is Protected by a Nuclear Weapon System.
The New Nuke Federalism would also come in handy for solidifying the neighborhood balance of terror. Families would think twice about coming to blows over leash-law violations if each knew the other could nuke the neighborhood.
The administration is aware that some may think that a nuclear bomb, even a small one, is an excessive way of solving squabbles about property lines or whose cat destroyed the green garbage bag. But, they reason, these are the same peacenik types who think that nuclear weapons are an excessive way of dealing with international border problems.
And the only way to make sure you never have to use nuclear weapons is to have nuclear weapons, right?
Of course, there may be a credibility problem. Will the Smiths actually believe that you would nuke the neighborhood when you also live in it? Experience in the international world suggests that people do believe that one country is willing to commit total suicide in order to protect its national interests.
As any Pentagon general can explain, the only way to deter war is to act convincingly as if we were actually willing to end it all. Indeed, if we appear just slightly unstable, we will frighten everyone into behaving ever so nicely. But all this will be made clear when the federal government begins distributing bombs to towns and cities under Defense Department block- grant programs.
Will there be too many fingers on too many buttons? Not at all. Your government, bless it, has faith in the average American citizen to make his or her own decisions without interference from the wimps and the nattering nannies on the Potomac.
In the end, the New Nuke Federalism wants to return government to the people. The ultimate bounty of Reaganomics is about to begin: a bomb in every pot.