When Defense Secretary James Schlesinger presented his massive annual report to Congress earlier this month, it included the momentous announcement that the Pentagon is making plans to evaluate millions of Americans from 250 urban areas in times of intense crisis with the Soviet Union. The Pentagon is going to start publishing pamphlets telling us how to flee from our cities, and pilot projects are to be started this summer in eight or ten areas.
Most of our U.S. population lives in our 250 largest urban areas. We have averaged a crisis a year with the Soviet Union, including the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The most recent was the Soviet mobilization which brought about our strategic alert last October during the war between Israel and Egypt.
The thought of more than 100,000,000 Americans leaving their jobs and homes and heading for the hills at a time of a crisis with the Soviet Union is so far out that it is beyond the ability of most of us to imagine. What could possibly make the Secretary of Defense suggest such a thing?
Secretary Schlesinger’s stunning announcement can only mean that the Pentagon experts have finally read the fine print in the SALT Treaty President Nixon signed in Moscow in May 1972. In that Treaty, he surrendered our right to defend all our cities (except Washington, D.C.) against nuclear attack. He gave up our right to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system, called the ABM — a marvelous American defensive weapon, which tests at Eniwetok Island proved can intercept and destroy incoming nuclear missiles before they destroy us.
President Lyndon Johnson planned to build 20 ABM complexes which would interlock to defend a large part of the United States against missile attacks. President Nixon originally planned to build most of what Johnson ordered. In February 1970, the then Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird officially stated that the ABM is a “crucial” need, and he quoted President Nixon as saying, “No President with the responsibility for the lives and the security of American people could fail to provide this protection.”
Yet, the chilling facts are that Richard Nixon has failed to provide this protection. He has traded our birthright, our lives and our security as American citizens, for a piece of paper called the SALT Treaty. The history of the SALT Talks reveals that the Soviets were desperately eager to get us to abandon our marvelous ABM defense program — and they succeeded. In Henry Kissinger’s own language, the SALT Treaty guarantees a “free ride” to nuclear missiles, be they from the Soviet Union or Red China.
Our U.S. Constitution makes it the duty of the Federal Government to provide for the common defense. Yet, now theDefense Department tells us that, come the next Soviet crisis, we will be defended by a pamphlet on how to flee from our urban cities to try to escape incineration from enemy missiles.
Congress should put Watergate on the back burner and consider whether the abandonment of our anti-missile defense is grounds for impeachment.