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Geneva summit: full steam ahead

The opposing pressures on President Reagan to make something of nothing of the Geneva summit with [Soviet leader Mikhail] Gorbachev are a little more complicated than your writer had room to expand upon, although he did cut to the heart of the problem [``Arms control, arguments in Washington,'' Oct. 29]. The US arms industry is sometimes caricatured as a consortium of greedy lobbyists controlled by greedy corporate bosses.

In fact, the arms industry is a literal cross section of the entire economy, from the little two-man machine shop in Massachusetts making dies for the screws that go in tanks to the conglomerates on the West Coast that make jets. Millions of people depend on defense contracts for their livelihoods.

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On the other hand, the more long-range need is for jobs in research and development in nonmilitary areas like transportation (using Amtrak as an example).

Hence the idealistic but ultimately pragmatic attempt to make something of these talks. Since this nonmilitary emphasis benefits both sides, the hard-liners will always be opposed to it.

What makes the summit so exciting are the possibilities to begin to change attitudes. It gives the world a chance to question whether thinking about war is as profitable for everybody as thinking about peace. Also, it's always a little harder to dislike people you get to know. Fear of the unknown tends to dissipate with knowledge.

With Reagan and Gorbachev each trying to win our hearts and minds with olive branches -- sometimes slickly, sometimes clumsily -- things don't look all that bad for those who want to see something come from the Geneva summit. David Neal Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Amid all the pomp and circumstance of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, a complete agreement would assure only a precarious peace. In the nuclear age, a 50 percent reduction in missiles leaves 50 percent too many. We can hope for peace when missiles become museum pieces.

Foreign trade, with a devalued US dollar, is the way to peace. Our agriculture and the food-processing industry are potentials for peace.

Our enemies won't bomb their breadbasket! Irving C. Lopour Madison, Wis.

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