5 JULY 1975, Page 5

Spectator July 5, 1975

Sir: I feel that Commander Young's (Letters, June 28) criticism of my article on defence cannot pass unchallenged. We live in a cynical world in which such 'old-fashioned' values as service and dedication are despised, no doubt as a part of the process of undermining our way of life. In suggesting that senior' members of the artnet forces have a vested interest in maintaining, and even increasing, defence expenditure, Commander Young falls into this trap. Perhaps members of the armed forces do have a vested interest in trying to increase the size and quality of Britain's armed forces, but then, haven't we all? The Soviet Union may insist on the scrapping of all foreign bases in the Indian Ocean area, but as always Soviet

words and actions differ. US observation satellite pictures show a missile

base under construction in Somalia,and such action fits in well with the vast Soviet naval build-up in the area, while Britain and France have been reducing their involvement. There is a strong implied threat in the Soviet stance. They have no overseas trade routes vital to their national survival to protect, yet the Soviet navy possesses overwhelming might and now blocks off large areas of sea between Iceland and Greenland as "dangerous to shipping" while exercises are conducted — such exercises in the Mediterranean or the Red Sea could disrupt the shipping of Western Europe. In Europe, on the ground and in the air, the Soviet might is again already overwhelming and getting stronger daily, and is far beyond that needed for defence. Has Commander Young for gotten that, far from the West being imperialistic, the Soviet Union occupies by force half of Europe — and a developed half with a politically sophisticated populace at that? Any nation can opt out from the West, into neutrality or even Communism. Incidentally, can I thank Mrs Atherley for her kind letter in the same issue? I can re-assure her — 1 for one have never forgotten the importance to the West of South Africa, and in The Spectator I have called for a South Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and attacked the hypocrisy and lack of realism in the arms embargo for South Africa.

David W. Wragg

Beacon Hill, Hindhead, Surrey.