New Forest East



Newbury Weekly News – 4 May 2000

Reading the ridiculous distortions about cruise missiles and Greenham Common by Neil Salmon (NWN, April 27) was certainly nostalgic.

The role of NATO, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in ending the Cold War is airbrushed out of history – instead, it is all down to good old Gorbachev and the so-called 'peace' women.

Yet, if the one-sided nuclear disarmers had succeeded, NATO would have caved in to Gorbachev's hardline predecessors – Brezhnev, Andropov and Chernenko – by failing to accept cruise missiles to counter the threat from hundreds of Soviet SS-20s deployed from 1977 and targeted against us.

This would have been a triumph for the Soviet militarists, and would have made Gorbachev's more moderate approach impossible. He could never have agreed to destroy the SS-20s if NATO had not possessed the cruise missiles to bargain away in return. Indeed, his very accession to the Soviet presidency may well have depended upon the failure of the hardliners to intimidate the West.

The 'Zero Option' deal, which removed both cruise and the SS-20s, was based on the original offer proposed by President Reagan way back in 1981. That offer was ridiculed by the CND on the basis that the Russians would never accept it. Yet, they did accept it in late 1987 – once the cruise missiles were deployed by NATO, and the one-sided disarmers had lost the battle to stop this.

Far from the Greenham women being responsible for the removal of cruise, they and those who shared their naïve and dangerous outlook were responsible for delaying the USSR-NATO deal.

Now they have the impudence to claim credit for an outcome which could never have happened if they had had their way.

Cruise missiles did their job – they neutralised the Soviet missiles, ensured their removal and significantly contributed to the ending of the Cold War on our terms, by forcing the Russians to negotiate realistically.

(Secretary, Conservative Parliamentary Defence Committee)
House of Commons
London SW1