To use language meaningful to those of President Reagan's generation (and my own), appeasement doesn't work. I am sure the president would agree with that statement, but in fact, he is engaged in a program of appeasement. NATO's first resolute decision to deploy 108 Pershing II missiles and 464 cruise missiles to meet the Soviet SS20 buildup has been followed by the president's proposal of a zero option on both sides, rejected by the Soviets, and then a suggestion for an interim solution, also rejected by the Soviets.
The president's proposal to supplant the SALT II treaty by the START proposal to reduce strategic launchers to 850 on each side and warheads to 5,000, no more than half of which would be land-based, has been rejected by the Soviets. The U.S.S.R. made a minimal move in our direction by suggesting an 1,800-launcher limit. The administration now considers means by which it could move off its original proposal toward the Soviet position.
Another appeasement being attempted is of the anti-nuclear and nuclear freeze movements in the West. The political force of these movements led the administration to soften its previous positions, in hopes of diluting the impatience of millions of Europeans and Americans over their governments' inability to reduce the nuclear terror to which they are exposed. Minor variations of the degree of terror certainly are not going to appease these movements, particularly when these gestures are matched by plans to bring in new weapons systems like the MX, the D5, the B1, and a whole new dimension of space warfare.
The real requirement is for a bold move to halt the arms race, as a clear indication of resolution to reduce the nuclear terror to which all our populations are subjected. This is the basis for the call for a mutual and verifiable freeze on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. A recitation of what this freeze will produce in benefits to the safety of the United States is a compelling argument for Reagan to leapfrog the obstructionists who urge him to oppose it and instead take leadership of it.
A simple projection of current weapons plans that would be obviated by a freeze demonstrates its value to the safety of our country:
1) A freeze on new types of land-based missiles permitted under SALT II would halt the present Soviet testing of two new types. It would also halt the MX. The prime characteristic of these new weapons is an increase in accuracy and consequent targeting of the land-based missile systems of the other side. While the so-called "first-strike" scenario is discussed as a theoretical possibility today, the advent of these new weapons systems will bring it remarkably closer. Both sides will be convinced that the other will soon have the potential for a single devastating blow, requiring that it keep itself on hair-trigger alert for an equally devastating response. The decision time in such circumstances will be reduced so that automatic, not human, decisions will have to be programmed, offering the sickening prospect of mutual destruction through machine error.
2) A freeze would bar the development of cruise missile armadas on both sides. While the United States is technologically ahead with this new device to date, it is predictable that the Soviets will develop their own capability within the next decade. They did just that with respect to the MIRV, after it was left out of SALT I in 1972 because the United States had no incentive to bar itself from something the Soviets did not then have. At the end of this decade, we can confidently expect a national debate over the need for a comprehensive air defense system to protect the United States from a Soviet cruise missile armada. This whole development would be eliminated by a freeze today.
3)4 A freeze would bar the further development and deployment of the Blackjack bomber on the Soviet side and of the B1 on the American side. This would have to be clarified in the discussions leading to the freeze agreement, but it seems clear that the strategic arms negotiating history considers intercontinental aircraft to be launchers rather than platforms. Again, this would prevent the buildup of a large Soviet intercontinental nuclear air force requiring the kind of air defense system the Soviets are now hoping can hold off at least some of our B52s.
4)4 The freeze would bar the development of the D5 missile by the United States, with its improvements in accuracy leading to the danger of first strike from the sea. Similarly, it would bar a more accurate Soviet submarine- launched missile. It would not bar the replacement of Polaris submarines by Tridents because the negotiating history has considered submarines as platforms rather than as launchers. The Soviets are currrently considerably behind the United States in submarine technology, but again it can be confidently expected that they will improve over the next decades through a combination of espionage, allocation of resources and talent, and plain competitive determination. A freeze on launchers would limit the application of those improvements in the nuclear dimension.
Each of the arguments against the freeze collapses under careful examination:
1) The Soviets are certainly not "superior" to the United States in any meaningful way today. If they were, we would see them using that superiority, rather than indicating concern over the technological superiority of the United States and its ability to leap ahead in technology in the coming years at a pace beyond that possible for the Soviet Union. The present American retaliation potential is absolute, and with a modicum of maintenance, its components will not vanish from old age.
The Soviets restrict their adventurism these days to the safer techniques of proxy war, subversion and attempts to encourage weakness of American will and separation from European opinion. This is not the bluster of someone convinced that he has the power to dominate. It is the wiliness of someone operating from a position of weakness, trying to slow the opponent down without direct confrontation.
2) Could we verify whether the Soviets would abide by such an agreement? The administration's own reports show that we are doing exactly that in our attention to potential violations of SALT II and the steady buildup of Soviet power. The fact is that our intelligence system will cover the Soviet Union's nuclear weaponry whether there is a freeze between us or not; a freeze treaty would merely make it easier to do so because of the numerous elements included in recent treaties to facilitate the process. Even in areas of ambiguity, of which there will certainly be some, such as the current indications of Soviet violation of the chemical and biological treaty, it is plain that our intelligence systems have picked up these activities. They have not occurred without being exposed to outside scrutiny.
The fact that the Soviets might violate a treaty is not the determinant. No one should "trust" them not to do so. The real point is whether we would catch them at it and be able to act upon that information. The evidence today indicates that this is clearly the case. Any violation that would be extensive enough to have an impact on the strategic balance would certainly be noticed by us.
The real question is what we propose to do about a violation rather than whether we would know of it. In this respect, there are improvements that can be made in procedures, such as third-party investigations and decisions, interim sanctions and greater visibility upon challenge. The Soviets have shown themselves in recent treaties to be willing to yield some of their long-held phobias against exposure of their affairs, provided that the result is specifically in their interest.
3) A freeze would certainly be of advantage to the Soviet Union, halting the major American nuclear buildup now planned. As with any successful treaty, however, the question is whether it would be in the equal interest of the United States, halting a certain further Soviet buildup of nuclear weaponry, which, of course, it would. We can protect the United States better by convincing the Soviet Union not to develop new weapons systems than by developing the defensive systems to shoot them down if they are used against us.
Thus appeasement is not the answer. It does not satisfy the nuclear priesthood, which thinks only of building new and more complex weapons systems. It does not satisfy the Soviets, as every indication of yielding is taken as a weakening of will to achieve a mutual solution to the arms race. It does not satisfy the opponents of nuclear warfare among the broad populations of Europe and the United States, who believe their leadership has failed to protect them against potential annihilation as a result of the inexorable march of technology.
Only a bold, firm call for a mutual stop in the arms race could cut through the present tangled political and diplomatic negotiations and produce a result worthy of an American president.