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Muscle-Flexing

THE MAIL

To the Editors of The Crimson:

Professor Richard Pipes and I clearly have fundamental disagreements on the current crisis and its relations to efforts at nuclear arms control and arms reduction. In his recent letter (Crimson, 4 March), he side-stepped these disagreements and instead makes the general claim that I get many things quite wrong. He then goes on to pull one idea out of the context of the article, which deals not with SALT in any narrow sense, which any reader will have recognized since Afghanistan, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, etc., are all discussed, and as a means of demonstrating my unreliability, he purports to find an error.

He is certainly right in his claim that the United States has something close to a two to one edge over the Soviets in strategic nuclear war heads (a claim I thoroughly agree with), but this does not make any less accurate my own indication that the U.S. has close to 30,000 nuclear war heads overall as compared to some 20,000 held by the Soviets. This latter figure obviously includes the battlefield or tactical nuclear weapons held by the U.S. forward base systems in Europe and aboard our major war ships in several parts of the world, including the Indian Ocean. Since one of the major fears of those who take a sane look at today's crisis is the possible escalation of a conventional battle in the Middle East to a nuclear exchange with strategic weapons, it is by no means out of place to identify the total nuclear arsenal as part of the over-kill capacity held by both super powers. Indeed, it is the link between the tactical weapons and the strategic weapons which makes the total nuclear arsenal so unstable and dangerous and demands that military solutions not be easily drifted into by the super powers as they flex their muscles in southwest Asia and the Middle East. Everett Mendelsohn   Professor of the History of Science

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