Letter to the Editor
To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
In his letter to the CRIMSON last week Professor Bator is not content to say that he disagrees with the merits of the proposals pressed upon the Government by the students in their recent march to Washington. Nor is he content to say (which might well be true) that he feels that he does not know enough about the subject to commend those or other proposals to the government. Rather, he charges the students with "irresponsibility", "extremism" and "thoughtlessness", and making "careless and hysterical argumentation." The charges are serious, as Mr. Bator obviously intends them to be, and deserve examination.
1. To support his charges, Mr. Bator cites first the suggestion that the United States should accede to some aims of Soviet foreign policy "with no negotiation or quid pro quo of any kind." At the outset, it should be noted that that is not what the students said. Their program of initiatives was proposed as "the necessary complement to sustained and serious negotiations." (p. 6) But leaving that aside, the students did suggest that the United States undertake on its own a series of steps without waiting for a negotiated quid pro quo. Does this suggestion demonstrate irresponsibility?
During the last two or more yeas the difficulties and limitations inherent in formally negotiating a quid pro quo have been increasingly recognized. Actions speak louder than words. A promised quid pro quo is not worth as much as a delivered one. Agreements are not likely to be durable anyway unless they reflect the interests of both sides and it may be easier for each both sides and it may be easier for each side to exercise restraint than to promise to do so. These ideas have been developed in the discussions of tacit bargaining by Professor Schelling and extensively in the writings of Professor Charles E. Osgood of Illinois. The Defense Department has recently solicited proposals for an extended study of arms control measures which the United States might undertake on its own (Project Unicorn).
The fact that, it may be to the interest of the Soviet Union to have us withdraw some of our military equipment does not demonstrate that it is contrary to our interest to do do. One may disagree with particular proposals, but to suggest the process of proceeding unilaterally in a direction that may be to our mutual interest without a promised quid pro quo is hardly irresponsible. On the contrary, I know no one familiar with the field who suggests that the United States limit itself to the process of verbal negotiation.
2. The example of suggested Western initiative which Mr. Bator cites to demonstrate irresponsibility is the students' proposal that the United States withdraw those advance missile bases "whose vulnerability makes them useless except for the purpose of a first strike against the Soviet Union." There is no space here to review the long debate over the wisdom or lack of wisdom in seeking to deter non-nuclear ventures by a threat of a nuclear first strike. It may be said that the administration has been proceeding as rapidly as possible away from reliance upon vulnerable first-strike weapons and that practical and policy reasons have convinced many who have spent a great deal of time on these problems that it is to the interest of the United States to renounce a first strike 'policy entirely. The suggestion to withdraw vulnerable first strike missiles from bases close to Soviet territory has been under discussion for some time both within and without the government. That Mr. Bator disagrees with the proposal or is unaware of the considerations in its favor does not make the students irresponsible.
3. Mr. Bator cites the suggestion in the student policy statement that to resume atmospheric testing would "endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people". Ignoring the difference between putting lives in danger and killing, Mr. Bator states:
Now, as far as I know there is not one jot of evidence for the implication that people by the tens of thousands might actually be killed by United Sates testing.
There is in fact a great deal of respectable evidence not only that lives would be endangered by fall-out from atmospheric tests, but that tens of thousands would probably die as a consequence of the increased leukemia, bone cancer, genetic abnormalities and other maladies. Such deaths would constitute a minor addition to those now cause by background radiation, but there appears to be a fair consensus among American cancer 4. Mr. Bator writes ". . . it strikes me as irresponsible to And one need not be "privy to 5. Mr. Bator states that a So much for the merits of Let me clear my conclusion. I
4. Mr. Bator writes ". . . it strikes me as irresponsible to And one need not be "privy to 5. Mr. Bator states that a So much for the merits of Let me clear my conclusion. I
And one need not be "privy to 5. Mr. Bator states that a So much for the merits of Let me clear my conclusion. I