The destruction of human life! Anxiety over it is the theme of this season's great left-wing cause, to wit: ending the arms race here and now and without addressing the policies of the U.S.S.R., the nation that, though poor and backward, is putting the finishing touches on the greatest arms buildup in history, an arms buildup that was provoked by no perceptible act of aggression from the Western Democracies.
The U.S.S.R. is also the nation that has designed its thousands of warheads on land-based missiles to destroy the legs of our strategic triad with a first strike. It is a nation that seems almost uniquely untroubled by treaty commitments.
Nonetheless, in the West, the democracies cherish life, and this week our left-wing brethren are observing "Ground Zero Week" to notify us of the peril that nuclear war poses to human life. Apparently they think we have been unaware of this during the last 31/2 decades. Why nuclear holocaust is more on their minds this season than in past seasons I have yet to ascertain. For years now, we have had the power to blow the world to kingdom come, as they like to put it, but we abstained. Why is the danger any greater now? Boredom? Restlessness?
Possibly the strategic thinking of the democracies has been a success. Thirty-seven years without war with Russia is not bad. Maybe the left-wing brethren are wrong to be so inflamed. Maybe in their anxiety they are urging a dangerous policy d,emarche, namely: freezing us into nuclear inferiority toward the U.S.S.R., the nation that has actually moved beyond nuclear warfare to chemical and biological warfare, the nation that adjudged Afghanistan a military threat and the great power that is clearly most bellicose and paranoid.
Maybe, too, we in the West are not as fervid for human life as the demonstrators would have it. After all, they have not been particularly vocal in lamenting the destruction of human life that has gone on in Southeast Asia since the communist reformers took charge, opened their concentration camps and their execution sites and sent the boat people out to sea. Nor have I heard them condemn the condition of human life in Poland and Afghanistan.
Yes, I am moved to the belief that there is a great deal of bunk in Ground Zero's national extravaganza. Urge nuclear disarmament or nuclear freeze without addressing the behavior of those against whom we arm? Old Don Quixote may have deluded himself as to the nature of the windmills that he spied, but at least he realized that they could knock him off his nag. This season's Quixotes deny that their windmills can be dangerous. If their delusions become our delusions we may all be knocked off our horses.