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May 25, 1982 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1982-05-25

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P O Tinion
Page 6 Tuesday, May 25, 1982 The Michigan Daily

The Michigan Daily
Vol.XCII, No. 15-S
Ninety-two Years of Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by student;
at the Unikersity of Michigan

Con ventional forces:
The other arms race

Weak support
STATE FUNDING of the University has
been rapidly decreasing. Now, the state is
cutting even further into already weak supports
that are supposed to hold up this university.
The University has already absorbed over $10
million in cuts from the state and now is expec-
ted to successfully absorb over a million dollars
more. In addition, the school faces the deferral
of $22 million from the state until later this
year. Meanwhile the University will have to
borrow that money to cover its operations.
Even if the state finds money to pay back
the University in the fall (which many doubt),
the cost of the high interest rates accumulated
during the wait will be borne solely by the
How much can the University take? Can the
state be relied upon in the future to provide the
funding the school needs?
The state's economy is in a shambles and that
has precipitated the cuts this university has
suffered. Admittedly, the state had to make
some cuts, but the magnitude of the cuts un-
dermines higher education throughout the
While the state is doing little to help preserve
quality in higher education, the University can-
not wait for whatever the state wants to dish
out. Effective lobbying in Lansing focusing on
what a strong higher educational system can
do for diversifying the economy could undercut
further attempts at aid cuts. And increasing
support from alumni groups which annually
donate millions to the University is essential in
the interim.
As University President Harold Shapiro said,
"We cannot allow this deterioration (in fun-
ding) to continue or we shall see higher
education crumble."-

By Michael Klare
While the vertical, nuclear ar-
ms racebetween the United
States and the Soviet Union is
heatedly debated in public and in
Congress, an equally terrifying
and vastly more expensive
horizontal, conventional arms
race is proceeding apace with lit-
tle notice.
According to the Stockholm In-
ternational Peace Research In-
stitute, the world now spends
some $500 billion a year on
military forces - of which 90
percent, or $450 billion, is devoted
to conventional forces. While the
major industrial powers account
for a very large percentage of
that amount, Third World coun-
tries are spending more and
more of their scarce capital on
conventional weapons, and in
many cases are now capable of
fighting wars of near-nuclear in-
THIS THIRD World capacity
will expand even faster in the
1980s as a result of increasing
conventional arms sales by the
United States and other major
military suppliers. For a time,
President Carter's much
criticized "arms restraint"
policy put a brake on surging U.S.
weapons sales, but now President
Reagan has removed such
restraints and U.S. exports are
expected to soar to record levels.
Because Soviet and French ex-
ports also are rising, total arms
deliveries to the Third World
could easily exceed $1 trillion in
the 1980s.
Conventional weapons are
"conventional" only in the sense
that they are non-nuclear;
otherwise, they may be as
familiar as the common handgun
or as "unconventional" as
napalm and white phosphorus.
And while such arms may be less
efficient than nuclear weapons in
killing large concentrations of
people rapidly, they are no less
effective over the long run. Ac-
cording to some estimates, more
than 25 million people have died
since World War II in conflicts
fought exclusively with conven-
tional weapons.
ALTHOUGH controlling the
nuclear arms race must be the
world's No. 1 priority, there are
many reasons why conventional
arms control merits almost as
much attention.
Conventional weapons are
becoming more like nuclear ar-
ms in their capacity to destroy
large concentrations of people.
Recent developments in the
design of "cluster bombs"-large

canisters which hold hundreds of
individually scatterable "bom-
blets" - suggest that conven-
tional munitions can be sub- -
stituted for tactical nuclear
weapons in many situations in-
volving large-scale destruction.
The West German BD-1 cluster
bomb, for instance, reportedly
can decimate an area of three-
quarters of a square mile - ap-
proximately 75 city blocks.
Because of growing opposition
to nuclear weapons in Europe,
NATO planners increasingly are
talking of a new generation of
"near-nuclear" conventional
weapons that could do just about
everything that theater nuclear
weapons can do.
cern is more countries are
acquiring large arsenals of
modern conventional weapons.
As recently as 1970, most Third
World armies were equipped with
obsolete, World War II vintage
arms acquired under the military
aid programs of the superpowers.
Today, through the worldwide
trade in conventional weapons,
these countries are acquiring
many of the world's most advan-
ced missiles, tanks, warships and
As a result, the arms inven-
tories of countries like Iran,
Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia and
Libya - with their multiple
Phantoms, MIGs and Mirages -
will more and more resemble
those of the front-line states in
NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
Conventional wars are also far
more likely than nuclear wars.
The world has witnessed 140 con-
ventional wars and uprisings sin-
ce 1945, and the likelihood is for
more of the same in the turbulent
years ahead. Many of these will
be guerrilla conflicts or coups
with relatively low levels of
casualties, but some will be
major regional wars like Iran-
Iraq conflict or the Arab-Israeli
wars, with very large numbers of

likely to grow out of conventional
wars. Any realistic assessment of
likely scenarios would suggest
that a nuclear war probably
would begin as a conventional
war, when the superpowers in-
tervene ina local conflict. In such
a situation, one side or the other
might find that its conventional
forces are in danger of defeat and
thus resort to the use of tactical
nuclear weapons, which then in-
vite retaliation and counter-
retaliation at ever higher levels
of nuclear violence until we reach
all-out thermonuclear war.
Indeed, such escalation is
becoming more likely precisely
because of the growing
proliferation of conventional ar-
Of the $1.6 trillion President
Reagan wants to spend on
military power over the next five
years, approximately 85 percent
- $1.35 trillion - will be devoted
to conventional weapons and bat-
tleships, the Rapid Deployment
Forse, and other interventionary
forces that will add nothing to
basic U.S. security but will in-
crease the risk of U.S. in-
volvement in future Vietnam-
type wars.
No one should underestimate
the importance of a genuine
nuclear weapons freeze. But in
pushing for such a move, ad-
vocates should not forget the
urgency of conventional arms
control. As long as there is no
freeze on the proliferation of con-
ventional weapons, the world is
just as likely to face Armageddon
-it just might take a little
Klare, a fellow of the In-
stitute for Policy Studies in
Washington, D.C., wrote this
story for the Pacific News Ser-

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