Nitze, Paul H.
January 1976
Foreign Affairs;Jan1976, Vol. 54 Issue 2, p207
Academic Journal
This article focuses on the need to maintain a strategic arms balance toward which the U.S. and the Soviet Union would be headed under the terms of the SALT II Treaty. To that end it is necessary to raise certain basic questions about the maintenance of strategic stability, in terms of minimizing both the possibility of nuclear war and the possibility that nuclear arms may be used by either side as a means of decisive pressure in key areas of the world. The chain of events leading to the present situation goes back to the Sino-Soviet split and the great buildup of Soviet forces facing China. There were about 15 Soviet divisions facing China in the mid-1960s, between 1968 and 1972 the number grew to at least 45 divisions. This caused the Chinese Communists to be deeply concerned about the danger of an attack by the Soviet Union on China. The Chinese turned to the one power that could help deter such an attack; they opened the ping-pong diplomacy that resulted in the so-called normalization of U.S. relations with China. In the Soviet Union, the view has been quite different. Perhaps initially because of the U.S. monopoly, Soviet leaders from the outset discounted the impact of nuclear weapons to their people. But as the Soviet nuclear capability grew, the Soviet leaders still declined to depict nuclear war as unthinkable or the end of civilization.


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