DETERRENT TO PEACE

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

In his reply to Messrs. Schnur and Cowan on the issue of fallout shelters (CRIMSON 10/14/60), Mr. Gilder has made the same gross omissions that he attributed to both these contributors. His argument that less expensive countermeasures will eventually damage the effectiveness of fallout shelters is not without merit. However, considerations of a political and much broader kind legislate against the advisability of a shelter program. These considerations spring from the world consensus that mankind has a bleak future in a permanent "armsathon," and that no effort to call a halt is too great or too soon. The United States, if she is to contribute her share to diminishing the conflict, must unencumber her defense structure of excessive business interests; she must achieve an alert flexibility in disarmament talks and foreign policy.

Closely related to the desirability of adaptive policies is a second and more important consideration. The Soviet Union--both its leaders and its people--must not, as experts caution, be viewed simply as a monolithic conspirator on the world stage. The inhabitants have fears and beliefs, both real and forged, but sufficient to cause them to react to every move on our part quite as we react to every move on theirs. A shelter program of the size required to make it effective would provoke the Russians not unreasonably to a defensive anger, give them (and uncommitted nations) greater reason to suspect our intentions, compel them to react with countermeasures, and result finally in widening the lift between our two worlds. There is an important difference between increased retaliatory power on the one hand, and the formidableness of cement and cinder-block digging-in on the other, with its implication of permanent and determined hostility.

For our part, the magnitude of this defensive effort would entail a long range commitment to the shelters as an essential element in a strategy of deterrence, and would hinder innovative policies on the peace front for some time to come. Ronald D. Quinn '58-4.