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A New Academic Debate


By Gideon Gil

Several members of the academic community have charged this week that an outsiders committee headed by a Harvard professor which helped to prepare a new CIA estimate on long-range Soviet military objectives was one-sided and that therefore the estimate was biased.

The report claims the Soviets seek military superiority over the United States, several national newspapers have reported over the last few weeks. In past years the CIA had estimated the Soviets were seeking military parity with this country.

The outsiders committee, headed by Richard E. Pipes, Baird Professor of History, was composed of non-CIA experts who hold more pessimistic views of Soviet military goals than the CIA estimators.

Pipes, who served as chairman from August until October, said earlier this week the Soviet Union makes it clear that they seek "global hegemony."

The inclusion in the estimation process of the outsiders committee whose members largely agree with Pipe's view on Soviet military intentions is apparently the reason for the revised estimate.

Bernard T. Feld, a professor of Physics at MIT who has been involved in arms control studies for many years, said this week he tends to "discount" the new CIA estimate because it was prepared by "well-known spokesmen for the American Right."

In addition to Pipes, members of the committee included Paul H. Nitze '28, former deputy Secretary of Defense, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, a former member of the U.S. SALT delegation, a RAND corporation expert on Soviet military affairs and several retired high ranking military officers.

Pipes said the CIA sought criticism from the outsiders committee like a business would seek criticism from a consulting firm. The committee looked at the facts without bias, Pipes added.

George B. Kistiakowsky, Lawrence Professor of Chemistry Emeritus who was special assistant for science and technology for President Eisenhower, called the estimate a "red herring" earlier this week.

He cited other "red herrings" which have been made in previous years including a National Security Council memorandum prepared in the late 1940s by Nitze which said the Soviets were headed for world conquest.

Kistiakowsky also mentioned reports of bomber and missile gaps in the 1950s, the Gaither study, which claimed the Soviet Union would have military superiority by 1960, and a report issued during the Kennedy administration which said the Soviets were building air raid shelters across the country.

Though the CIA estimate has not been officially released it was leaked to the press as early as October, 1976. Recent speculation suggests the report was leaked intentionally to place pressure on President-elect Carter during the campaign.

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