The news media lost a great reporter when Stewart Alsop recently succumbed to leukemia. I phoned him a couple of years ago and requested an interview. He turned me down rather brusquely. He frankly didn’t want to give an interview to a conservative. But I respected him because, although he lived and worked in the midst of the liberal establishment, he didn’t let his opinions or his friends diminish his dedication to the task of reporting the important news.
Stewart Alsop was one of the handful of reporters who tackled the overriding issue of our times, namely, the shift of strategic nuclear power from an 8-to-1 U.S. superiority to clear Soviet superiority. He was one of the first reporters in the national news media to expose how the Soviets had stalled the SALT negotiations for 2 ½ years while they dug 91 new missile holes and we dug none. He bluntly described the Soviet SS-9 missile which carries a warhead “about 20 times as heavy as the American Minuteman.”
He even reported the fact that the Soviets have tested at least three new intercontinental missiles “since the 1972 SALT Agreement was signed” — an agreement which we were told “stopped” the spiraling arms race.
With the skill of a master surgeon, Alsop repeatedly exposed the widely circulated lies that we have a “sufficiency” of nuclear weapons and even “overkill.” Back in 1971 he wrote that it was “too late to talk about missile parity” because the Soviets already then had “between five and ten times” the missile megatonnage we have. He predicted that the Soviets “are building up for a new eyeball-to-eyeball nuclear confrontation like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis,” in which he said it would be “our turn to blink!” because we no longer have nuclear superiority.
Stewart Alsop told how the Soviet Navy has already become the dominant seapower, and how our army of fighting men is so reduced in strength that the Russians must consider it “some sort of joke” by comparison with their 80 combat ready divisions.
Stewart Alsop knew that in reporting these dismal facts he would subject himself to the sneers of his fellow liberals who either do not have the intellectual capacity or persistence to tackle the complex subject of nuclear strategy, or who have decided to play along with the unilateral-disarmament intellectuals who are concealing the facts about the Soviet nuclear threat under the euphoria of detente. Alsop sadly confessed in one column that, in writing about Soviet weapons, he knew he would make himself the target of false accusations that he was “a tired old toady of the military-industrial complex.” This, of course, is the favorite smear term of those who advocate spending U.S. taxpayers’ money on credits to the Soviet Union instead of on weapons for our own defense.
Stewart Alsop was an honest liberal reporter who had the courage to report the facts that nobody wants to hear. He has left a vacuum which will be difficult to fill.