February 07, 1994|By ANDREI CODRESCU

New Orleans -- I can't tell you how reassured I feel now that the world's nukes are pointed at the Atlantic Ocean instead of at my head.

For the first time in years I can look up at the sky without that little twinge of anxiety that asked: Is it a falling star or my cooking instructions?

On the other hand, what did the Atlantic Ocean ever do to the major powers, besides providing a nice highway for ships and a lot of fish to eat? How are the fish supposed to feel? I'm glad that the nukes aren't heading for New Orleans, but must we threaten to evaporate the ocean instead?

It would have been much more reasonable, I believe, to repoint the missiles at ourselves, i.e., point Russian missiles at Russia and American missiles at ourselves. There would be a lot less incentive this way to make a mistake. And suicide is a lot nicer than murder. This arrangement also would be a sign of good faith, the acknowledgment that we are all responsible for our own missiles, and that, for all the differences, we are still the same.

Nothing illustrated this point better than President Clinton standing in line for bread in Moscow. You can't keep a hungry man down. Just as he does in America where he has to stop at every McDonald's on his jogging route, the president stopped to get some food in Russia. It didn't make any difference to him, as indeed it doesn't to any hungry person, which way the missiles are pointed.

So why point them at the fish? If we don't feel comfortable pointing them at our own heads, how about pointing them at the moon? If a madman blows up the moon, at least the tides will calm down.

Even better, how about getting them all together and dismantling them? Then we can pat each other on the back instead of pointing, pointing, always pointing.

Andrei Codrescu is editor of ''Exquisite Corpse.''

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