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Facing up to a freeze

Since World War II, the communists have conquered well over 1 billion people - in the face of American nuclear power. And the Soviets have created a worldwide power position.

But the cycle of world wars has been interrupted and small wars have been contained; most certainly because of nuclear weaponry.

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What would happen, however, if the Western arsenal were frozen at a strength and a level of technology that could be quickly outdated? Or what if the arsenal were dis-mantled?

The questions arise again, as they have in the past, because of the growing movement in the United States to freeze or to outlaw nuclear weapons. The idealism, and perhaps the fear, fueling this movement could lead to the greatest political mistake of modern times.

The movement could become a force powerful enough to pressure Western governments into fatal concessions for an unworkable ''peace.'' More importantly , it could convince Moscow that Westerners want peace at any price - an open invitation for further expansion.

To most Westerners, negotiations represent a sincere attempt to solve political problems on an equitable basis. But the Soviets, and particularly their leaders, live in an entirely different world. Their purpose for negotiations - and the sole purpose - is to gain further advantage from the military and political pressures which created the necessity for holding them.

Thus, as Moscow repeatedly has demonstrated, the objective of entering negotiations over nuclear arms is not to lessen the danger from them or to reduce the advantage now held by the Soviets or, most certainly, not to eliminate them. One purpose is to advance a complicated political-military campaign, now in its 62nd year, to immobilize Western power, primarily by manipulating the people into forcing governments to weaken national power or to curtail its full use.

The essence of Soviet strategy, on both the international level and in local revolutions, is to prevent ''enemy'' governments from throwing maximum strength against the communists and their allies, regardless of what they do. Moscow will not permit any revolution under its control - and that means most revolts of recent years - to develop into a showdown without first immobilizing the government's military and police capacity to retaliate with full strength and intensity. Locally, this stalemate is created by a number of techniques, ranging from guerrilla warfare, which small regular armies are unable to control, to a buildup of arms that threatens to out-gun the government, to the outside intervention that occurred in Korea and was threatened in Vietnam.

Internationally, this standoff was reached years ago through the development of nuclear power. When the US had a monopoly on these weapons, after World War II, then failed to use them against the Soviets, Moscow declared that the US was its ''main enemy.'' Washington's offer in 1946 to neutralize this power by placing it under United Nations supervision was rebuffed by Moscow. Josef Stalin , the Soviet dictator, took the greatest gamble in modern history by leaving his country vulnerable to nuclear counterattack while frantically building his own nuclear arsenal, aimed at his erstwhile allies of the West.

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Twenty-six years later, the Soviets attempted to tip the nuclear balance in their favor by deploying missiles in Cuba. They backed down before American pressure, then embarked upon a second crash program to reach the nuclear superiority which Washington says they now possess.

The nuclear standoff reached the point long ago of hobbling Western power to an astonishing degree. No noncommunist government today would consider using conventional forces to attack East Germany, say, as a countermove against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or almost open belligerency in Central America.

Battlefield nuclear weapons have never been used, although they are designed for such wars as Vietnam and Korea, where the enemy, heedless of his own losses, favored massed attack by overwhelming numbers of troops.

As one result, Moscow has been gradually building up the most devastating international imperialistic campaign in modern history, using Cuban ideological mercenaries and local ''revolutionaries'' in a war of aggression against all free men. Each step in this progression has been undertaken only after unmistakable evidence of Western weakness, most particularly the growing unwillingness of Americans to fight for such ideals as individual freedom which they claim to be sponsoring. The boldest move in this campaign, the offensives by Cuban troops in Angola and Ethiopia, followed the American abandonment of Vietnam.

This record hardly supports the essential premise of the anti-nuclear forces, that Moscow is willing to reduce its nuclear power for any reason whatsoever; certainly not in response to what the Soviets clearly regard as the weaknesses of their adversaries. Instead, the Western protests undoubtedly strengthen those Soviet leader who are working to fulfill the prophecy made in the 1950s by the late Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet premier - that the American people could be maneuvered into unilaterally dismantling their nuclear arsenal.

If there is a chance for a legitimate and policed reduction of these arms, the record shows it will come only after the US has built up overwhelming power.

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