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MUCH credit is due both the United States and the Soviet government for their persuasiveness and willingness to show flexibility in the Geneva talks, prelude to full-scale arms control efforts. Each can legitimately say it gained acceptance of some of its views. Yet it is unfortunate that claims have surfaced almost immediately from each side to the effect that in Geneva it won a victory at the expense of an adversary. Soviet media hailed the results of the talks as a triumph of Moscow's diplomacy. And in the United States some diplomats expressed the view that America ``won'' in the Geneva encounters, with the Soviet Union accepting the US position on the talks and the US not having to bend as much as it was willing.

In both cases such talk may be merely for domestic consumption. Yet it is potentially self-defeating. The ultimate goal is to reach an arms control agreement, which will require a measure of mutual confidence. To gloat over a presumed victory at the expense of the other side in this procedural stage of negotiations would make it much more difficult to reach this goal. By far, the hardest part lies ahead.

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The sports-minded Americans in particular have a propensity for viewing human experience in terms of adversarial sports metaphors, with winners and losers. This time the preferable analogy is of a cooperative game, in which all the players benefit and there are no losers.

Arms control is not an ``us vs. them'' proposition. Rather it is a vitally important effort in which the real winner, if an accord is achieved, will be mankind. ----30{et

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