Arms and the Ban

Article excerpt

Arms and the Ban

Last week, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski tossed out some fresh ideas on conventional arms control. Just back from Moscow and presumably with General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's backing, he announced that Warsaw Pact leaders are prepared to negotiate reductions in tank strength in return for cuts in NATO's bomber power. Jaruzelski pledged that Poland, which commands the second-largest conventional force in the Warsaw Pact after the Soviet Union, is "ready to reduce or to eliminate the asymmetry in conventional farces where it can be shown to exist.' Western critics of the intermediaterange nuclear forces treaty who complained about the Soviet Union's alleged superiority in conventional forces in Europe, and who make their approval of the nuclear pact contingent on cuts in those forces, are presented with a bold new initiative.

Resistance to the implications of Jaruzelski's proposal and to the imminent I.N.F. agreement emerged last week not in Washington but in Prague. In a speech to the Czechoslovak Parliament, Foreign Minister Bohulsav Chnoupek acknowledged that some groups in his country's leadership view Gorbachev's arms control proposals as a threat to the basic interests of Communist rule. Gustav Husak's conservative regime, which came to power after a Soviet-led invasion in 1968, may find the prospect of rapid disarmament unsettling.

Gorbachev, who has allied himself with Eastern European reformers like Jaruzelski, has shied away from imposing on Eastern European conservatives his party line--glasnost, democratization and economic restructuring. …