'DEFINE YOUR TERMS'

Independent – 27 April 1987

According to Joseph Nicholas (letter, 24 April), "there is no conflict between multilateral and unilateral disarmament". In fact, these concepts are logically incompatible.

The unilateralist maintains that his side should give up a particular weapons system irrespective of what his potential enemy may do. Naturally, he hopes that the result of this one-sided initiative will be to encourage his potential enemy to follow suit – but even if that happens, that is not multilateralism.

The multilateralist, by contrast, offers to give up certain weapons if his potential opponent agrees to do likewise, but not otherwise. Multilateral disarmament is thus conditional on disarmament by one's potential adversary, whilst unilateralism is not.

It is absurd for a well-known CND activist like Joseph Nicholas to seek to blur this crucial distinction.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Director
Policy Research Associates
London SE1