Well, apparently American proponents of nuclear freeze are right. Apparently there really is an antinuclear movement in the Soviet Union. Frankly, I had been in doubt. This is not to say that I doubted the average Ivan's horror of nuclear war. We are all uneasy about that. It is just that, Soviet politics being what they are, I doubted Soviet citizens would actually be available for antinuke activities. I shall be big enough to admit my error. According to reports reaching the West last week, an antinuclear petition has been circulating through the Soviet Union, and no less than 170 Russians have signed it. Some are in a little hot water, but now Papa Brezhnev, too, is faced with what we in the media are wont to call a "growing" antinuclear movement.
Furthermore, if the Nation magazine has its way the Soviet antinuclear movement will grow still more. Manfully addressing the question of how to put pressure on "leaders in the undemocratic East," the Nation suggests: "Why not a letter-writing campaign?" The Nation advocates a bold stroke: "This does not mean letters to their leaders (oh, no!)--rather, millions of letters from ordinary people in the West to their counterparts in the Soviet bloc. Let us procure phone books and address lists from Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin, Dresden, Warsaw, Krakow, Bucharest, Budapest, Prague. Let us distribute the lists of names at peace demonstrations in Western Europe and North America . . ." Halt! Halt! This gabble goes far enough.
Moscow telephone directory indeed! Lists of addresses! The only organization in Moscow with an accurate list of addresses is the KGB. Moscow does not abound with phone directories. Those that do exist serve best as bound obituaries.
The insular silliness of the freeze movement remains invincible to reason and reality. Now the question being asked throughout Washington is how deeply nuclear freeze will influence the fall elections. The answer depends on precisely how degraded our standards of discourse have become. On its merits, the freeze should have no more influence on the fall elections than spring fever.
Yet on the freeze, our standards of discourse have degraded into a mere series of primitive shouts, scornful of all inconvenient evidence. Take the claim, ceaselessly retailed throughout the press, that the freeze is apolitical, pluralistic, representing --as The New York Times described New York's June 12 freeze rally--"a rainbow spectrum" of political organizations. Balderdash. No conservative or neoconservative endorses this freeze. Some apolitical bovines may mill about in the antinuke herd, but no politically articulate conservative and few moderates. New York's rally was addressed exclusively by left-wing activists such as Robert Drinan, Bella Abzug and Barry Commoner. The oratory was thickly interlarded with invective against the Reagan administration and U.S. "imperialism." "National Call to Form a Coalition Opposed to the Reagan Administration," "Peace Under Capitalism Means World War III," read the leaflets.
The Times' "rainbow spectrum" of political groups is a hallucination. All are in truth quite left. After reviewing the evidence for The American Spectator, Rael Jean Isaac and Erich Isaac have recognized that "the Soviets do indeed have input into the U.S. peace movement." In the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Rabinowitz has made the same point. Yet this agglutination of dreamers, zealots, and blanks continues to be palmed off as apolitical and broadly based.
I doubt this fraud can continue. The Economist magazine of London editorialized in its July 3 issue that a freeze cannot just be declared. It must be negotiated: "Both the United States and the Soviet Union know that their security rests on the precise, signed agreements, not beaming promises." Contrary to proponents of the freeze, moreover, such problems as ascertaining nuclear equality and then verifying treaty compliance are enormously difficult. The Soviets have never agreed to the requisite inspections and throughout the arms race there never has been equality. "On any given measurement of nuclear power," the Economist notes, "one man's freeze is another's unacceptable superiority." The Soviets are interested in a freeze to protect their areas of strategic superiority, especially in theater nuclear weaponry and in hard-target kill capability.
In the fall, the American electorate will heave off the sham of nuclear freeze, leaving it with those who dream of the Moscow telephone directory and 170 Russians against the Politburo..