OVERKILL by John Cox


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A succinct, well-ordered summary of the arguments for disarmament, from a British engineer and former chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Looking into such concepts as first-strike capability, mutually assured destruction, minimum deterrence, and destructive balance--with telling, if not damning statements by MacNamara, Kissinger, and the like inserted without comment--Cox shows how ""jargon makes policies seem more reasonable than they are"" and how so-called defensive weapons are actually part of offensive systems. He points out the weaknesses of partial measures such as SALT-1 (""The limitations on ICBM's and SLBM's will contribute no more to peace in 1980 than would the banning of bows and arrows in 1939"") and the fragility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. He suggests that presently operating spy satellites afford adequate insurance against ""cheating,"" and concludes that ""a total halt in all arms development is an essential prerequisite to disarmament""--and that only a strong, insistent citizens' lobby will bring it about. In true YA fashion, Cox begins with a review of America's WW II development of the Bomb, includes accounts by survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and explains how nuclear energy works and how nuclear explosions affect people; toward the end, too, there is a simple but pointed history of warfare. However, neither his assumptions of some acquaintance (with SALT-1, for example) nor his style (""As argued earlier, MIRVs are unambiguous first strike weapons, and the American initiative to develop them must be deplored""--a random example) indicate that this was written with young readers in mind. Perhaps it wound up in this category for lack of current interest in the subject. Nevertheless, Cox makes clear that while the public is lulled by a 30-years' reprieve and gestures of dÉtente, the arms race continues. For term paper writers or the merely concerned, a useful briefing.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
Publisher: T. Y. Crowell