It is a great honor to be with you today and to have the opportunity to present the Landon Lecture. Alf Landon brought great distinction to this state and to the nation. And the lectures, which have borne his name, have brought eminent men to this campus. I am very gratified that you have invited me to take part in this important series of programs.
Some of you no doubt recall the famous Civil War general, Joseph Hooker, whom Abraham Lincoln appointed to replace the slow-moving General McClellan. General Hooker made a special effort to demonstrate that he was a true man of action, and in his first days in command sent to the president a dispatch headed, "Headquarters in the Saddle." Mr. Lincoln was not exactly impressed. "The trouble with Hooker," he remarked, "is that he's got his headquarters where his hindquarters ought to be."
A lot of Americans are wondering in 1969 whether those responsible for the nation's defenses have their "headquarters" in the right place, namely on the job of meeting our national security needs economically and effectively. We are witnessing an unprecedented display of citizen's ire against the military establishment. Not only the uniformed military, but the civilian leaders and private contractors engaged in defense activities are bearing the brunt of unusual public criticism.
Part of this criticism stems, of course, from the frustration and bitterness engendered by the Vietnam War. However one assesses that conflict, it has triggered a major loss of confidence in the capacity of our government in general and of our military in particular. But the new and growing skepticism toward the military is compounded of other political and economic factors, as well.
There has long been a need for responsible criticism in the field of national security policy, but there are obvious reasons why it has been difficult to develop. Defense policy is intimidating. Replete with complicated technologies, awesome weapons, arcane strategies, and stratospheric budgets, it quite understandably has scared off many of those who might normally have contributed independent judgments. Furthermore, much relevant information has been classified and withheld from public debate, sometimes necessarily, often, one suspects, merely for convenience. And the horrors of the nuclear age numb the mind; many aspects of contemporary defense policy have seemed unthinkable to some of our citizens. Thus, the inclination to leave this vital field of policy to the experts has been a powerful one.
This context has altered rapidly, however, in recent months. In and out of congress, a swelling body of aroused individuals has begun to plunge into issues of national security with a vigor and determination rarely seen. A new breed of journalism has begun to flourish, exposing serious problems in defense procurement and management. The small group of dedicated congressional investigators who have plowed these fields for many years - these have been joined by a large number of allies, including several on the senate armed services committee. Individual members of the house and senate have struck out on their own to uncover dubious contract practices, to highlight the dangers of certain weapon systems, to press the case for non-military approaches to security such as the pending strategic arms negotiations with the Soviet Union.
The need for strategic arms talks should be evident. It was in 1945 that we exploded the first atomic device, and shocked the world and ourselves with the awesome power of this new technology. In 1949 the Soviet Union detonated a similar weapon. For the past quarter century, the two most powerful nations in the world have held each other at bay. Changes have occurred within both blocs; allies have challenged the leadership of the United States and the Soviet Union alike; but the nuclear stalemate goes on.
The American people have become increasingly aware over the years that the great power of nuclear weapons is sufficient only to insure mutual deterrence; it does not and cannot provide meaningful military superiority against a nation also armed with thermonuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. This view apparently has been accepted by the leaders of the Soviet Union also. At the present time neither side can hope to attain "superiority." Both the United States and the Soviet Union have over 1000 long-range missiles. These weapons, armed with nuclear warheads, can be either land or sea-based. In the case of the Soviet Union, nearly all are land-based. Nearly half of the U.S. missiles are based at sea on our polaris submarine fleet.
In addition, the Soviet Union has constructed a rudimentary anti-ballistic missile system around the major cities of Moscow and Leningrad. Some theorists have argued that an ABM system, by protecting the major population centers, could give the Soviet Union a "first strike capability." That is, in time of major international tension, the Soviets could conceivably launch what is known as a "pre-emptive" attack upon the United States, knowing that their initial attack would wipe out a portion of our offensive capability and that their ABM system could protect their administrative and population centers against the remainder of our missiles. It was this consideration which prompted many of our citizens to support the construction of a similar anti-ballistic missile system for the United States. However, the Soviet ABM system is not as technologically advanced as the one we are planning to construct, and the Soviets seem to have stopped deploying the original system because it will not work adequately against U.S. missiles.
Thus, for the time being, both sides are left with a rough comparability in strategic weapons. And confusing as it may be, offensive weapons - numerous and powerful enough to devastate an opponent even if he were to strike first - are our best insurance against the outbreak of war.
Now, however, we are faced with a new technology, which threatens to disrupt this carefully maintained balance of power. I refer specifically to MIRV, the innocent sounding acronym for Multiple lndependently-Targetable Re-entry Vehicles. MIRVs are Multiple Warheads, placed on a single missile. Instead of a single nuclear bomb in the tip of a missile, we and the Soviets are now developing the capability of placing three or more bombs in the nose of each rocket; and through complicated electronic engineering, each of these bombs can be guided to a separate target.
With this new generation of weapons about to sprout from the arsenals of the Soviet Union and the United States, I have been joined by almost half the senate and a sizeable number of house members in calling for a joint moratorium on flight tests of the so-called MIRV systems. These weapons, multiple independently marketable re-entry vehicles, are by far the most dangerous technology to be devised by man. MIRV would multiply the offensive forces of the two sides several-fold.
The significance of MIRV has tended to be lost in the intense controversy over the proposed ABM deployment. Many of us have opposed ABM deployment at this time, but even if the decision is made to proceed, it will be years before the system is operational. During that period we will have many opportunities to re-assess the need for such a defense. In other words, ABM deployment remains a controllable decision, in the sense that unilaterally or cooperatively with the Soviets we still have an opportunity to limit or terminate the program, if that promises greater mutual security.
By contrast the insidious quality of MIRV technology lies in the fact that we are very near the stage at which these systems will no longer be controllable by technically practical and politically feasible means. Once an intercontinental missile is resting in its silo, we may no longer be sure whether it has one or several warheads, or whether it is capable of striking one or several targets.
It has become increasingly clear to close students that, short of a highly improbable system of on-site inspection of deployed missiles, the most promising approach to controlling MIRV is to prohibit the test programs, which are necessary to perfect multiple warhead devices. By banning MIRV test flights, which can be observed with some confidence by both sides, it may be possible to forestall actual deployment of these weapons by preventing the achievement of the reliability and accuracy that would be required. At the least, a MIRV test moratorium should slow the development of this menacing weapon, allowing additional time to seek workable arms control agreements in this realm.
And time has become the most precious commodity where MIRVs are concerned. The United States is nearly halfway through the test series that may lead to initial deployment of the Minuteman III and Poseidon MIRV systems late next year. While the Soviet Union appears to be working on a less flexible system, it also has conducted a number of tests of a large Weapon capable of striking more than one target. If these tests continue unabated, each nation will have to assume that the other has actually deployed MIRV.
This is likely to be a critical turning point in the history of the arms race and the reasons are many, but the fundamental points can be stated briefly. MIRV threatens to erode one of the basic barriers to nuclear war, namely, the utter certainty that neither the Soviets nor the Americans could carry out a nuclear attack without suffering devastating retaliation. But when a single missile becomes capable of destroying several other missiles, a nuclear war may become more likely. This is not to say that MIRV deployment condemns us to inevitable holocaust. But in moments of acute crisis, when each side knows that the other has the capacity to wipe out much of its retaliatory force, the tendency to strike first will probably grow.
When the risks are so grave, the disaster of war so total, we cannot afford to tempt fate. It may be possible to survive in a world populated by MIRVs, but it would be far preferable to live in a world free of them.
The uncertainties such a system would add to the present balance of terror would make a significant arms control agreement exceedingly difficult to achieve, and would lead us into a less stable strategic relationship with the Soviet Union. The likely result would be yet another offensive - defensive arms race, with ever-increasing burdens and ever-decreasing security on both sides. It is my profound hope that the president will accept the proposal to seek a joint MIRV test moratorium. Without it, I have grave doubts that the planned negotiations, which can be successful in turning us away from the perilous path on which we have been proceeding, will not fail.
There has been far too little sense of urgency in the nation and in the government regarding those negotiations, the so-called strategic arms limitation or salt talks. The Soviet Union initially accepted the American suggestion for such talks over a year ago, but the invasion of Czechoslovakia, the U.S. election campaign and other factors combined to delay them. President Nixon indicated four months ago that the United States was prepared to proceed with these vital negotiations. But the clock has been ticking and the Soviets seem to have grown even more wary of these talks.
At present it is clear that the issues for the salt talks have been vastly complicated by the rapid advance of technology on both sides during recent months, but the opportunity still exists for earnest and productive diplomacy to curb the arms race. MIRV tests continue, ABM deployments proceed, weapons decisions are made - but the cause of enlightened negotiation is stymied.
This is no time for considerations of national pride or calculations of narrow advantage to intrude. The stakes in these negotiations are nothing less than the security of mankind.
The salt talks, when and if they begin, will no doubt be prolonged and complex. Yet the fundamental questions they must address can be reduced to a single point: are the two powers prepared to build their future strategic relationships on the doctrine of mutual deterrence? That is in fact the question, which President Nixon put to the Soviet Union in his notable speech of March 14. The President, for the first time, confirmed that the United States has adopted a policy of strategic sufficiency, and has concluded that neither side can successfully or safely pursue the elusive goal of military superiority. He made clear his understanding that the United States and the Soviet Union should forego certain weapons not only because they are costly but because they jeopardize strategic stability. For example, the President rejected a heavy city-oriented ABM system and a massive expansion of our offensive forces precisely because they would threaten the Soviet Union's capacity to retaliate. Such deployments would force them to take countermeasures of a very dangerous character.
President Nixon has expressed a vivid appreciation of the central paradox of our time, namely, that mutual security depends on mutual vulnerability.
If the Soviets respond affirmatively in the salt talks by agreeing that mutual deterrence must be the touchstone of future security arrangements, many specific consequences will follow. Agreement on a number of issues should become more feasible. For example, in agreeing that mutual deterrence should be a common goal, the two sides should also be able to agree that unlimited deployment of ABM systems would be incompatible with mutual deterrence. A freeze on the number of offensive delivery systems should also become more possible, since continued expansion of such forces undermines mutual deterrence, especially if MIRV technology is not inhibited. And even some limitation of anti-submarine warfare may become workable, since a breakthrough in ASW might erode the distinctive deterrent value of missile-launching submarines.
These are not easy or comfortable questions. An ideal world would not have to contend with them, for it would have no nuclear weapons, no intercontinental ballistic missiles, and, for that matter, no wars. But in the world as it is, those concerned about the well being of life on this planet must come to grips with these problems in a realistic and constructive way. The salt talks offer a precious opportunity to do so. That opportunity must not be squandered.
As we confront these momentous issues, these paralyzing questions of life and death, it is easy to drown in self-pity and anxiety. Indeed some have ascribed much of the unrest among your generations to the overwhelming sense of impending doom, which nuclear weapons have imposed on mankind. Professor George Wald of Harvard recently described today's youth as the generation without a future. He declared that this awful perception was at the root of campus tension.
Perhaps there is some truth in his view. The insight is plausible enough, and the spread of student disturbances to many countries cries out for explanation. But the distinctive feature of the recent waves of student activism is not that it occurs in the nuclear age. In truth the most notable point from our perspective is that the traditional outbursts, which have so often occurred in European, Latin American and Asian universities, have now been matched in the United States. For some reason American students have adopted some behavior patterns which have disrupted other countries' schools for centuries.
It is difficult to attribute this phenomenon to the fact that we have entered an age in which students everywhere are oppressed by angst, a terrible sense of dread about the fate of the world. Thoughtful students always and everywhere have been concerned about these great issues.
Most campus disputes have involved immediate issues, though some of those issues are common to many schools. The quality and relevance of education, the difficulties of personal learning in gigantic institutions, the demand for greater student freedom and greater student involvement, all these important questions would surely be with us whether or not we had ever heard of nuclear weapons.
In short, while the anxieties of the thermonuclear age are real and painful, while they no doubt compound the other stresses of modern life, it is unreasonable to blame all our troubles on the fact that we are fated to inhabit a world plagued with such absolute weapons. Apocalyptic visions tend more to numb the believer than to stimulate him to constructive action.
To cope with the challenge of controlling nuclear weapons, we cannot afford to wallow in a mood of hopelessness and helplessness. We need clear heads to identify and isolate the special problems of nuclear arms control, and this mammoth task is not made easier by chaining ourselves in interesting but irrelevant speculations.
Nuclear weapons worry young people; nuclear weapons also worry older people. We need to control nuclear weapons, not because they trouble our students, but because they threaten the well being of all men.
I make this point to anticipate another: the limitation of nuclear weapons and the prevention of nuclear war are feasible. Rather than succumb to frustration and despair, we ought to take stock of what we have done and what we can do in this field. The record is by no means entirely bleak. For several years the United States had a virtual monopoly on nuclear weapons and could have exploited them to rule the world. Yet there was never any real likelihood that it would do so. Having the power to dominate, America made clear its goal of a just world order by declining to use that power.
In later years, the Soviet Union has overtaken the United States' lead in nuclear weapons, and peace has come to rest on a balance of terror. The recognized fragility of that balance has been a powerful incentive to seek better and more dependable foundations for peace. The lesson has impressed itself on every informed mind: - national security is inseparable from international security - in the words of Maxim Litvinov: "Peace is indivisible."
The fruits of this lesson have ripened slowly, but they have begun to ripen. By the decade of the sixties it became possible for the Soviet Union and the United States, after arduous negotiations, to reach significant arms control agreements. The nuclear test ban treaty, concluded in 1963, not only inhibited nuclear fall-out from the atmosphere; it also curtailed further development of even more refined and destructive nuclear devices.
Another agreement sought to stop the threatened extension of such weapons into the untouched environment of outer space. Antarctica has been declared off limits to military installations.
Recognizing that the quest for a durable peace would be jeopardized by the continued spread of nuclear weapons, most members of the United Nations supported efforts to devise a non-proliferation treaty, which has now been concluded. A "hot line" has been installed to maintain emergency communications between Moscow and Washington, and to reduce the dangers of accidental conflict. At this stage prospects are hopeful for additional limitations on military uses of the ocean floor and on the horrendous chemical-biological weapons of which we have all read.
Perhaps more important than these formal arrangements to reinforce world stability have been the tacit and unilateral steps taken by the great powers. Both sides have come to employ space-based observation systems, which provide vital information about the number and kinds of weapons available to the two countries. In a sense technology has given us the "open skies", which President Eisenhower proposed over a decade ago. The contribution of such safekeeping systems is immeasurable.
Furthermore both nations have learned that a stable balance of power cannot rely on vulnerable weapons, which are only usable in a first strike. Hence, the Soviet Union has followed the American lead in deploying weapons suitable for a second strike but less vulnerable to an initial attack. And both Moscow and Washington have gone to great lengths - in Cuba, in Vietnam, in Berlin, in the Middle East - to avoid even minor clashes between Soviet and American military units. In some respects the fear of escalation has been enormously healthy; it has induced the kind of Soviet-American restraint that must prevail if crises are not to become calamities. It is this kind of mutual restraint, which has allowed us time to explore non-military approaches to the problems of national security.
These promising measures are, of course, only half steps toward the world we seek. But they are solid accomplishments, which demonstrate that we can begin to erect a peaceful order through cooperative undertakings. Given time and hard work, we and the Soviets can transform our realization of common peril into appreciation of common interests. And those common interests are the basis for fashioning meaningful limitations on the types and levels of weapons we maintain.
It would be naive to conclude that these halting beginnings are a guarantee of major future successes at the conference table. But it would be equally naive and far more dangerous to the values we hold most dear if we fell prey to the misconception that attempts to achieve arms control are condemned to failure. Anxious concern is fully warranted; a pervasive sense of futility is not.
The rewards for progress on the arms limitation front are measured not only in increased security for all nations. They also appear in the vast opportunities to re-allocate resources now devoted to military expenditures. At present some $200 billion a year is spent on national security programs throughout the world. If we can liberate even a small fraction of that sum, by reducing the necessity for such expenditures, think what it could mean for the prosperity, for the health and for the sanity of this globe. Programs to speed development of the impoverished lands, to relieve the blight infecting urban communities in every country, to feed and clothe and heal those in need - even a diversion of but 10% of the world's military budgets would be a boon to mankind.
Again, my message is that it can be done. Already, on our own and without requiring parallel action by the Soviet Union, we are finding ways to shift resources away from some military programs and into other priority efforts. A year ago those of us advocating adjustments in U.S. defense spending discussed the possibility of a $5 billion reduction in the budget; no one really expected that to occur. But in the period since January of this year, executive and legislative action has in fact trimmed defense spending by very nearly that amount. The budget for 1970 will be in the $77 billion range, as opposed to the more than $81 billion recommended by the previous administration. It could be even less, in my opinion it should be considerably less, depending on how the $2 billion cut proposed by the senate armed services committee is finally resolved. Thus progress toward controlling the defense budget has been dramatic and substantial.
The dilemmas of national security are complex and must be aired widely, if the collective wisdom of the American people is to be informed enough to be effective. Problems like these defy dogmatic and ideological judgments. In wrestling with them I often recall the encounter a century ago between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Hensley. Leaving a meeting at which he had been with the Cardinal, the Archbishop offered him a ride. "After all," he said, "we're both engaged in God's work."
To which the Cardinal replied, "Yes, you in your way, and I in His."
None of us can claim the mantle of divinity when it comes to the great decisions of national security and public welfare. But God has equipped us with intelligence and compassion which, coupled with determined effort on our part, can lead to more humane and progressive policies. And those policies will be a living testament to the peace and justice America seeks for herself and for all nations.