Yesterday the president argued on this page that the only way to arms control is through strategic arms buildup. I am deeply troubled by this twisted logic that turns black into white, arms buildup into arms control, and the threat of war into the potential for peace. George Orwell is alive and well and living in Washington, on the eve of 1984.
The president's statement is correct that the votes in the House yesterday and the Senate today on the MX constitute "a question of vital concern which will affect the world our children inherit." But that is why the MX must not be developed or deployed.
This weapon will add nothing to the survivability of our land-based missile force. It will divert tens of billions of dollars from genuine human needs, as well as from the strenghtening of our conventional forces -- for which there is truly a broad-based consensus in Ameria. It will help keep arms control right where it is today -- dead in the water. And it will, in conjunction with Soviet deployments, move both nations inexorably closer to nuclear war. This is the real "bargain" the president offers, and it is no bargain for America.
First, the basing mode finally selected for the MX makes no sense. It is the worst of all worlds -- the most attractive target we could present to Soviet missiles in the most vulnerable location we could devise. Virtually every expert group, including the Scowcroft Commission, has come away with one common message -- heavily MIRVed missiles in existing silos are vulnerable, threatening and inviting targets. One hundred missiles can be easily targeted and overwhelmed by the Soviets. As long as this administration refuses to seek ratification of the SALT II Treaty and fails to achieve new limits on Soviet warheads, this condition will remain.
Second, if our nation is serious about building a small mobile single-warhead missile to combine modernization, increased stability and arms control in a single consensus package, then we should move on it now, not push it off until after the MX. By pursuing two missiles at once, bureaucratic pressures, diminishing funds and the desire for bigger rather than better will keep the smaller missile always a step out of reach in the future.
Third, the MX represents an enormous diversion of defense resources from either a smaller new mobile missile or from improving our conventional forces. Already we are beginning to see the effects on defense spending as the president's unprecedented budget deficits bring closer and closer the day of reckoning for every segment of our society, including national defense. Each MX we build will mean less emphasis on truly survivable alternatives to today's vulnerable land-based missiles. Each MX we build will mean fewer ships, fewer tanks, fewer fighters and less readiness to face the threats before us around the globe, so that the first rifle shot could mean we would be forced to escalate to nuclear war simply because we are unable to meet aggression with appropriate power.
Fourth, the MX is no bargain for arms control. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said as much when he stated recently that President Reagan's letter to Congress on the MX and arms control commits him to "nothing basically new." The Reagan administration has repeatedly said that the MX will not be bargained away in negotiations. I fail to see how a vulnerable missile -- that could easily be targeted by the Soviets, that will not be bargained away -- can be a bargaining chip. The president has turned logic on its head.
Additionally, the record of this administration gives me no confidence that the arms control part of the MX "bargain" will be kept. This administration has refused to seek ratification of the Salt II Treaty. It delayed for many months any negotiations at all on nuclear arms -- and then only went to the table when prodded by public pressure. It has abandoned the goal of a comprehensive nuclear test ban. It is launching a major "star wars" arms race in space -- with no effort to stop this race before it gets started. What now should give us confidence that this administration is serious about nuclear arms control? What now should give us confidence that this adminstration will summon up the statesmanship and the dedication that can bring fewer weapons and safer weapons in a very difficult time?
But the most pernicious and false argument raised in favor of the MX is that MX is needed to demonstrate national will so the Soviets will negotiate seriously. Unlike the president, I believe in America's strength and in our will as a people to bear any sacrifice to remain free. If the issue is national will, we should put our defense dollars where they count -- not on a vulnerable missile that all agree cannot be defended. If the issue is national will, then continually running down our arsenal before our people and the world is not the way to demonstrate it. Confidence is essential to deterrence, and we have good reason to be confident.
Finally, the MX is a step toward nuclear war. Because its power and vulnerability provide compelling reasons for the Soviets to strike it first, the MX, from a military point of view, is useful only as a first-strike weapon, or as a weapon to be fired the moment we think the Soviet missiles are on their way. In fact, the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified in April that we must have the MX so we can threaten Soviet missile silos and command posts. We have truly arrived at 1984 and "Newspeak" a year early when such a missile can be called "Peacekeeper."
Even if the MX is not used as a first-strike weapon it would lead to a situation where both sides, despite their best intentions, could be tempted to fire their nuclear missiles in an extreme crisis. This was confirmed recently by Weinberger and John Vessey Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who have said the United States might adopt a "launch under attack" policy of firing our missiles to counter pre-emptive attack.
The future, thus, will not be peace. The future will be both nations poised with fingers on hair-triggers ready to use their weapons rather than lose them.
I was born in Kansas and, although a Democrat, I grew up admiring and respecting another Kansan, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who stood for everything we as Americans have been raised to revere. Twenty-seven years ago last month, he wrote in a private letter: "When we get to the point, as one day we will, that both sides know that in any outbreak of general hostilities, regardless of the element of surprise, destruction will be both reciprocal and complete, possibly we will have sense enough to meet at the conference table with the understanding that the era of armaments has ended and the human race must conform its actions to this truth or die."
That day has long since come, and now more than ever we must face seriously the nuclear threat to our security and survival. The MX serves neither. It is a step into quicksand in the search for firmer ground.