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Moscow's troubles in Afghanistan and Poland have bought time for Washington. Don't fritter it away. This is the kind of useful warning heard in current American discussions of strategy, which Secretary of he Navy John Lehman recently called "the trendiest subject of the season."

Last month's series of Monitor editorials, "the military budget," went into many of the details for maintaining the readiness of the American armed forces to fulfill their strategic responsibilities. Since then practically every day's news has touched on strategic considerations -- whether the proposed MX basing mode can be simplified while serving its strategic purpose, for example, or whether the technological preparations for possible future wars as short nuclear conflicts should be combined with fuller manpower and equipment preparations for possible long conventional wars.

Yes, strategy is an "idea whose time has come," as Secretary Lehman told a Naval War College audience. He wryly noted the new experience of selling such an idea, when in his previous jobs he had such tasks as selling SALT I to hawkish Senator Jackson and balanced force reduction in Europe to the Russians. Now the Navy is setting up a new strategic think tank, the Center for Naval Warfare.

But, to judge from some European and American voices, arms control is not really an idea whose time has gone. Indeed, some Europeans would make deployment of more US nuclear arms on European soil contingent upon pursuit of talks with Moscow to limit such arms.

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