Social Scientist. v 14, no. 155 (April 1986) p. 1.


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EDITORIAL NOTE

TRUTH, if unpleasant, is often mistaken for hyperbole. It appears fanciful to say that U.S. imperialism is once again making serious plans to "roll back" communism by war; nevertheless, it is true. And it is not only in Nicaragua, or Angola or Kampuchea that it is hoping to reverse the process of history; its "strategic thinking" even encompasses plans to break up the Soviet Union through a nuclear war. The Reagan administration has come to the dangerous conclusion that victory is possible in a nuclear war, victory in the double sense of the term, namely a decimation of the Soviet "military and political power structure", and a limitation of the damage to the United States to a level where its own survival and recovery are not jeopardised. Tt is this supposition which underlies the frantic quest for strategic superiority exemplified inter alia by the Star Wars programme. With the achievement of this superiority, it is thought, the Soviet Union would not only be rendered incapable of effective intervention against U.S. plans to refashion the world to its own liking, but would itself cease to escape the fate of becoming an object of such refashioning.

This lunacy, which considers even the possible loss of 20 million American lives an "acceptable level of damage", cannot just be scoffed at. It represents an unprecedented threat to humanity which has to be seriously understood and fought. The focus of the current number of Social Scientist is on this question of nuclear threat.

The lead article by C. Raja Mohan analyses the changing nuclear strategic perspective of the United States. The main thrust of his argument is that technological progress, resulting from the massive research and developiiient effort in this Held, has so significantly increased the range and sophistication of nuclear weapons that the old concept of nuclear deterrence based on a mutual hostage relationship lias given way to considerations of the feasibility of a nuclear war. Deterrence presumes actable equilibrium; as this gets undermined by technological progress, the notion that nuclear weapons are meant only to deter is supplanted bv the belief drat tlwv can even be used. It is onlv disarmament, as is being proposed bv die Soviet Union, rattier than deterrence which can save the world from a nuclear holocaust.



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