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WHAT THIS COUNTRY needs more than a good five-cent cigar is a bona fide peace candidate for President. With the primary season now upon us, each candidate must be held barefoot to the fire on the questions of war and peace that face us today. We are not talking here about the nine minutes of scrutiny TV viewers saw when Dan Rather tried to get George Bush to open up on the Iran-contra scandal. We are talking about nine months of vigorous debate on the nuclear weapons stockpiles, on runaway military spending, and on the role of the United States in foreign wars. No candidate should be allowed to squirm off the hook with vague protests against nuclear war. Everyone is opposed to nuclear war in theory. In the last few years it has become even a bit fashionable for politicians to be “concerned” about the nuclear threat. \(At least this shows a small measure of progress. One need only think back to George Bush’s statement in 1980 suggesting that he believed in “winnable” nuclear war. Or, even further back, to his 1964 race against Senator Ralph Yarborough in which the Associated Press reported that Bush “said he favors a limited extension of the war in Viet Nam, including restricted use of nuclear weapons if ‘militarily At a minimum, the next President must be committed to stopping research and development on Star Wars weapons. The Democratic candidates meet this test but the Republicans, including George Bush and Bob Dole, do not. Beyond this, it is time for Democrats to demand not just a stop but a reversal of the Reagan military buildup. It is always the temptation for “responsible” politicians to play numbers games with the military budget. Thus, your cautious liberal candidates will ask for something in the way of a five or ten percent cut in military spending. This would likely be their request if Reagan had increased the arms budget by 50 billion, 100 billion, or 200 billion a year. But we’ve long since passed the one trillion dollar mark in military spending during the Reagan era to speak of ten percent cutbacks is to be hardly relevant. The constituency for peace should be insisting on massive cutbacks and a conversion to non-military industries. Technocrats are ever narrowing the debate. But this is the year to introduce into public discussion an idea that addresses the true nature of our nuclear peril: that is, to ensure our survival as a race we must first ban the testing and development of nuclear weapons and then outlaw the very existence of nuclear weapons. Is there a feeling within the American peace movement that we are approaching a great historical moment? That now is the time when the sea is changing? There is evidence for such hope. When the Commitmerged last November with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign the largest peace group in America was born. The organization now estimates its ranks at 170,000 with 24 state chapters. More than 100 Texas activists met in Austin January 23 to ratify the national merger of SANE/Freeze and to begin the task of organizing local chapters in each of the state’s 27 Congressional districts. Organizers estimate they are starting with a statewide membership of about 5,000. The new group intends to dedicate “the majority of our resources to working for nuclear disarmament,” according to its credo. In a wide-ranging and eloquent speech to more than 600 people on the second night of the convention, the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, the national organization’s new president, addressed the technological and psychological aspects of the arms race and suggested, as well, that without an emphasis on social justice the peace movement would not succeed. \(For an excerpt of Coffin’s sponsOred war in Nicaragua was both illegal and immoral and he called for an immediate end to contra aid. “Foreign policy to an extraordinary degree is a reflection of domestic attitudes toward domestic problems,” Coffin said. “Our foreign policy recently in Third World countries has helped make the rich richer, the poor poorer, and the military more powerful, which is an exact reflection of what’s been going on here at home,” he said. Coffin’s remarks touched upon a sentiment probably shared by a majority of peace activists in this country: that the actual prospects for peace have little to do with the particulars of weapons systems, treaties, and throw-weights. Certainly the nation’s largest peace group would do well to concentrate most of its efforts on reducing the immediate threat of nuclear war. But what is shaping up is no less than a battle j Oti l lE TEXAS , server FEBRUARY 12, 1988 VOLUME 80, No. 3 FEATURES Drawing the Line on Rape By Amy Johnson 4 The Costs of War By James Ridgeway 6 We Are All In the Same Neighborhood By William Sloane Coffin DEPARTMENTS 8 Dialogue 2 Editorial 3 Journal 5 Political Intelligence 10 Books and the Culture All the News That’s Fit to Print By Geoffrey Rips Prime-Time Prophet of Doom By Louis Dubose 12 17 Afterword The Kind of Music That Soothes Your Soul By Julie Ardery 23 over the use of American power and military might around the world. President Reagan in his State of the Union address last month said his fond hope is for a consensus on high military spending “that prevents a paralysis of American power from ever occurring again.” Such is the underpinning of the interventionist rather than the internationalist agenda. A true “peace candidate” for these times would offer not just a set of proposed weapons reductions but a profoundly different approach to American power. This is where the most challenging work lies for the emerging peace movement in encouraging a non-interventionist mandate and making it safe for political leaders to break with the past. In the Reverend Coffin’s words, we look to Washington “only to ratify what it can no longer resist.” D. D. EDITORIAL Peace Politics In an Election Year THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3