Doty, Paul; Carnesale, Albert; Nacht, Michael
October 1976
Foreign Affairs;Oct76, Vol. 55 Issue 1, p119
This article examines several approaches to the present commitment to joint Soviet-American negotiations to preserve the nuclear balance at progressively lower numerical levels of armaments, as of October 1976. What is and is not included in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) remains a problem. The Chinese, French and British forces are excluded from limitation, and the Soviets, viewing these as potential threats, cite them as justification for a Soviet nuclear force greater than that of the U.S. On the other hand, the U.S. insist that its forward-based systems, including fighter bombers based in England, on the European continent, and on aircraft carriers are theater forces and should be excluded from consideration in SALT, despite the fact that they can carry out nuclear attacks on the Soviet Union, at least on one-way missions. A recently developed Soviet bomber, known in the West as the Backfire, presents a comparable problem, and hundreds of intermediate range ballistic missiles in the Soviet Union targeted on Western Europe have been left totally untouched by negotiations. But the real impediments to progress in SALT lie deeper. In retrospect, four obstacles stand out. The first obstacle has been the mismatch in strategic conceptions of the two sides. The second obstacle to further progress in SALT is the difference between Soviet and U.S. perceptions of strategic parity. The third obstacle to arms control is the view widely held on both sides that the effectiveness of nuclear weapons in actual use would be roughly proportional to their megatonnage or numbers. The fourth and perhaps most decisive obstacle to bringing strategic weapons under control lies in the profound differences in cultural attitudes and military traditions of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The approach to overcoming these four obstacles which has been attempted repeatedly in the past seven years is to extend the time allotted to negotiations.


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