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THE EVOLVING AMERICAN PRESIDENCY

US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy Aiden Warren Joseph M. Siracusa

The Evolving American Presidency

Series Editors Michael A. Genovese Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA, USA Todd L. Belt Graduate School of Political Management George Washington University Washington, DC, USA

This series is stimulated by the clash between the presidency as invented and the presidency as it has developed. Over time, the presidency has evolved and grown in power, expectations, responsibilities, and authority. Adding to the power of the presidency have been wars, crises, depressions, industrialization. The importance and power of the modern presidency makes understanding it so vital. How presidents resolve challenges and paradoxes of high expectations with limited constitutional resources is the central issue in modern governance and the central theme of this book series.

More information about this series at http://www.palgrave.com/gp/series/14437

Aiden Warren · Joseph M. Siracusa

US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy

Aiden Warren School of Global, Urban and Social Studies RMIT University Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Joseph M. Siracusa School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry Curtin University Perth, WA, Australia

The Evolving American Presidency ISBN 978-3-030-61953-4 ISBN 978-3-030-61954-1 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Martin Shields/Alamy Stock Photo: Jasper Johns, Target, 1958, oil and collage on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of the Artist This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Praise for US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy

“In US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, Warren and Siracusa have effectively synthesized and analyzed the contours of presidential leadership on nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Their account highlights both the significance of the issue for that conflict, and seeks applicable lessons for today’s international environment, and the return of ‘Great Power competition’ and the possibility of a new nuclear arms race. This is an important book that should be read by both policy-makers and students of international relations.” —Thomas Schwartz, Professor of History and Political Science, Vanderbilt University, USA “This is an important and timely book. At a time when tensions between the United States and China and Iran (not to mention Russia and North Korea) are perilously escalating, this analysis of United States Cold War nuclear diplomacy through nine presidents powerfully demonstrates the dangers, and more importantly the futility, of portrayals and overblown rhetorical exaggerations by US leaders and their allies when describing the ambitions, intentions, and capabilities, of their adversaries. Warren and Siracusa persuasively argue that in this post-Cold War age of nuclear proliferation what is needed to enhance national security is

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PRAISE FOR US PRESIDENTS AND COLD WAR NUCLEAR DIPLOMACY

quiet cooperative nuclear control diplomacy, not alarmist public rhetoric. It is a cautionary tale that should be read by everyone—especially by policy-makers and politicians.” —Ian J. Bickerton, Professor of History, University of New South Wales, Australia

Contents

1

1

Introduction

2

The Transition from Roosevelt to Truman

19

3

The Truman Administration and the Security Context

35

4

The End of the U.S. Nuclear Monopoly

51

5

Eisenhower and Emboldening the Nuclear Option

71

6

Kennedy’s Nuclear Dilemma

95

7

The Johnson Years

125

8

The Search for Détente: Nixon and the Ford Transition

147

9

Carter’s Lost Opportunity

167

10

The Tale of Two Terms: The Reagan Diplomatic Transition

189

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CONTENTS

Afterword

227

Bibliography

239

Index

257

CHAPTER 1

Introduction

On November 9, 1989, East German border guards opened the Berlin Wall and transformed the trajectory of history. The dismantling of the twenty-eight-year-old wall would come to symbolize the beginning of the Cold War’s demise, as well as being a pivotal juncture that would spur a new era of optimism and possibility. In the period leading up to this defining event, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had won cautious commendation from Western leaders having made the argument for a “common European home” in which the United States and the Soviet Union could both play a leading role. Gorbachev proclaimed that while there were “still some chills and drafts… we have come out of a period of Cold War.” And in this new period, both nations were also “simply bound to a new stage of relations,” or specifically, a “peaceful period in the development of international relations.”1 Thirty years on, it is evident those “chills and drafts” are deepening. The United States and Russia are now engaged in what some are describing as a new Cold War representing serious threat to global security. In the subsequent period after the Cold War’s end, two triumphalist ideas came to the fore in U.S. foreign policy—the almost hubristic “end of history” and propagation of liberal democracy, and the connected notion of the United States as the “indispensable nation.” Taken together these ideas formed the basis for what became known as the “unipolar © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_1

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moment.” Of course, NATO would proceed to contravene assurances given to Russia that it would not enlarge “one inch” eastward, a provocation that produced, unsurprisingly, antipathy and humiliation within the Russian state. Ardent Cold War diplomat George Kennan had cautioned in 1998 that a NATO extension would only spur Russia to “react quite adversely” and would be “a tragic mistake.” That said, Russia also holds responsibility for wasting the opportunity that the Berlin Wall’s demise offered. In the post-Gorbachev era, Russian leaders permitted the pursuit of democratic reforms to dissipate and make way for a system of immoral oligarchic capitalism that has led to hardship and discontent. Given that both states together possess 90% of the world’s nuclear stockpiles (out of 13,410 warheads in the global inventory)2 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists argues that the threat of “destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making” is at its highest level since 1953.3 And, unlike during the concluding stages of the Cold War, there appears to be minimal chance that the fractious nature of contemporary bilateral relations will improve in the foreseeable future.4 At its peak, the Cold War was a global system of countries centered on the United States and the Soviet Union. It did not determine everything that was going on in the world of international affairs, but it influenced most things. At its core was an ideological contest between capitalism and socialism that had been going on throughout the twentieth century, with each side fervently dedicated to its own system of economics and governance. For some hardline Cold Warriors, it was a bipolar system that was clearly defined through a total victory or total defeat prism, in which neither of the main protagonists could envisage a lasting compromise with the other. The Cold War was intense, categorical, and highly dangerous: where strategic nuclear weapons systems were developed, deployed, and intended to destroy the superpower opponent if required, even at a cost of devastating half the world. At the same time, the Cold War also saw arms control play a significant role in the relationship between the United States and Soviet Union. While the accords seldom compelled either one to agree to substantial changes in its proposed nuclear forces, the arms control process, and the coinciding formal discussions, were regularly one of the few avenues for communication between the United States and Soviet Union. Further, the United States contributed to many multilateral regimes that endeavored to restrict the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and their means of delivery. Commencing in the early 1990s,

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it also extended support to Russia and other former Soviet states as a means to lower the threat that these weapons might pose should they fall into the hands of rogue states or non-state actors. The U.S. also pursued the possible use of comparable tools in providing other states with assistance in containing and controlling weapons and weaponsgrade materials.5 With this in mind, however—particularly given recent developments pertaining to the deterioration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the demise of the Open Skies Treaty, and the nonrenewal issues with the New START Treaty—this book seeks to revisit, reexamine, and elucidate the United States’ nuclear diplomacy and Presidential strategic thought during the Cold War period in transitioning across the early period of arms racing, through to the period’s conclusion when arms control and seminal agreements were devised and implemented. Clearly, the Trump Administration expressed incredulity and disdain toward the role that arms control and nonproliferation agreements could play in emboldening U.S. national security. While this viewpoint signifies the mounting concerns about Russian compliance with existing arms control agreements, it also emanates from the Trump purview that arms control did too much to constrain U.S. flexibility, and too little to regulate the capabilities of others.6 As the authors of this monograph, what struck us over the years is the apparent lacuna of a presidential narrative in the nuclear arms literature, as opposed to the otherwise rich vein of regional and issue-oriented studies, which shows no signs of abating. As a result, we are determined to try our hand at resolving this situation ourselves. In this regard, we have sought in the following chapters to write a concise U.S. foreign policy/presidential history in the context of the nuclear arms race since World War II based on a synthesis of a broad range of the available literature. In this undertaking, we attempt to provide a comprehensive, historical assessment of nuclear weapons developments—including delivery systems, strategies, and crises—while focusing on the role of scientists, military chiefs, and political leaders, and most importantly, as the title of this book suggests, the defining role of each Cold War administration in their diplomatic approach to the nuclear issue. In more structured terms, our study essentially traverses four delineated historical eras across nine presidents: America’s nuclear monopoly, America’s nuclear superiority, superpower parity, and the concluding stages of the Cold War era. Finally, we have attempted to describe and examine the historical efforts aimed at the international control of the atom, as well the creation of the diplomatic architecture that constitutes the foundation of the global nuclear

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nonproliferation regime. Given the debates surrounding a “new” Cold War and the concurrent challenge being undertaken by key nuclear states toward defining arms control mechanisms while simultaneously engaging in proliferation/modernization activities, this book seeks to provide a much needed (re)visitation into U.S. presidential thinking and foreign policy. Indeed, across nine chapters, this book traces the United States’ nuclear diplomacy and Presidential strategic thought during the Cold War period—across the early period of arms racing through to the period’s conclusion when arms control fora and seminal agreements were devised, implemented, and provided a necessary base in attempting to alleviate the specter of nuclear war.

The Cold War Context For some Americans, the euphoria of victory and peace in 1945 diminished very quickly. That the Soviet Union’s total victory over Nazi Germany had upset the historic European balance of power mattered little to Americans who had lauded the U.S.S.R. for its costly and necessary contributions to the Allied successes. But for a small minority of U.S. officials and writers, well-conditioned to distrust the Kremlin, the continued Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe merely enhanced that country’s strategic position in the Balkans and rendered bordering regions vulnerable to further Soviet expansion.7 It required only the Kremlin’s postwar demands on Iran and Turkey to unleash visions of Soviet military expansion reminiscent of the Italian, German, and Japanese aggressions that, so recently, had brought war to the world. Responding to Soviet pressures on Turkey for a new Straits settlement in August 1946, Acting Secretary of State Dean Acheson and the Chiefs of Staff, with advice from State Department experts, prepared a memorandum on Turkey for the president. The memorandum, signed by Acheson, Navy Secretary James Forrestal, and Secretary of War Robert Patterson, warned: “If the Soviet Union succeeds in its objective of obtaining control over Turkey, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevent the Soviet Union from obtaining control over Greece and over the whole Near and Middle East … (including) the territory lying between the Mediterranean and India. When the Soviet Union has once obtained full mastery of this territory… it will be in a much stronger position to obtain its objectives in India and China.”8

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Of course, such rhetorical portrayals of Soviet territorial ambitions far exceeded their military capabilities and intentions. Stalin was no Napoleon or Hitler. In real terms, the Kremlin had already demonstrated its extreme reluctance to confront the West militarily along its Iranian and Turkish borders where its strategic advantage was profound. Confronted by the predictable resistance of the non-Soviet world, Kremlin leaders understood that any military venture would end in disaster. While some U.S. military officials concluded as early as 1946 that the Soviet Union had no intention of embarking on a career of armed aggression, that conviction scarcely constrained the country’s burgeoning insecurities. Indeed, to many strident American anti-communists, the post-World War II Soviet danger lay, not only in military aggression, but even more so in the limitless prospect of Moscow’s ideological expansion aimed at world domination. To them the U.S.S.R.’s self-assigned leadership of world Communism possessed the power and will to incite and support Communist-led revolutions everywhere, imposing on them its influence, if not its direct control. This presumption assigned to the Soviet Union the unprecedented power to extend its presence over vast distances without military force. To counter Moscow’s ideological threat, Washington actively stimulated its own ideological foundation—at times, a blind, knee-jerk anti-communism that frequently bordered on what political scientist Howard Ball called “control hysteria.” From Truman to Reagan, America’s political establishment conducted a “war on communism” that refused to consider any resolution short of the Soviet Union’s surrender. “Before we can hope to stabilize international relations with the Communists or have a peaceful environment in which to seek a resolution of differences between countries,” Senator Strom Thurman of South Carolina insisted, “the Communists have got to abandon their goal of world domination.”9 In similar fashion, Professor Robert Strausz-Hupé declared the “desirability of such…dealing with an opponent who seeks world domination and frequently speaks of burying us is questionable.” Constant reminders of the threat posed by a “godless” Communism and a disastrous nuclear war to Western Civilization sprang from the media, the pulpit, and politicos of almost every stripe. “For more than four decades,” Strobe Talbott concluded, “Western policy has been based on a grotesque exaggeration of what the U.S.S.R. could do if it wanted, therefore what it might do, and therefore what the West must be prepared to do in response….

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Worst-case assumptions about Soviet intentions were fed…[by] worst-case assumptions about Soviet capabilities.”10 Despite America’s constant dramatic portrayal of the alleged expansive power of Soviet communism, the actual danger posed by the U.S.S.R. remained so imprecise that no Washington official cared to define it. Fear of Moscow’s seemingly limitless ability to project its ideology around the world transformed this power into an international phenomenon of unprecedented expansive power. But ideology was no expansive force. Nationalism and the demands of self-determination, sweeping much of the former colonial world, comprised a universal defense against Soviet ideological expansion. Rhetorically, Washington’s view of the Soviet threat was global but, except in bordering Afghanistan, nowhere—not in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or Latin America—did Moscow reveal any ambition or interest of sufficient importance to merit a resort to military force or a showdown with the United States. Nowhere did the Kremlin threaten direct military aggression against any region regarded vital to the security of the United States or its Western allies. Even the occasional encounters remained provisional, usually conducted by alleged proxies whose interests were always indigenous.11

An Uncomfortable Stability? If the world avoided a major conflict since 1945, the unresolved questions between East and West had been considerably less than vital for one side or the other. The stability of Europe, especially, reflected the realization among Western and Soviet leaders alike that the issues of the Cold War were better left unresolved than disposed of through war. The balance of power in Europe had after all succeeded in establishing and perpetuating a stable division of the continent. There had been innumerable incidents and provocation, even some minor wars, but no nation possessing nuclear striking power had passed, or perhaps approached, the point of no return. Most lines of demarcation had been well established through tradition and prudence, if not by diplomatic agreement; few, if any, could have been tampered with without setting off a war. What characterized world politics in the post-World War II era, therefore, was a remarkable stability, produced partially by the dangers of thermonuclear war but especially by the relative absence of vital conflicting interests. There were no apparent problems which lay outside the power of astute diplomacy to compromise, provided that governments were

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7

permitted the freedom to maneuver. The forces that lead to war are varied and illusive, and the ultimate decision to fight—and fight totally—is more often the product of fears and emotions than of clear and measured judgments of national interest. In the long run, therefore, peace rests on the ability of nations to distinguish with considerable accuracy their essential rights, upon which hinge their security and welfare, from demands of secondary importance that are always proper questions for negotiation and compromise. Yet Washington and Moscow were arming for a war that nobody wanted and over issues that few considered critical. “We are trapped,” Thomas Powers summed the continuing rivalry in the January 1984 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, “in a tightening spiral of fear and hostility. We don’t know why we have got into this situation, we don’t know how to get out of it, and we have not found the humility to admit we don’t know. In desperation, we simply try to manage out enmity from day to day.”12 If the day-to-day policies of the superpowers recognized the limits of their capacity to perform, Washington’s ultimate goals were attached to abstractions that had little relationship to America’s national interests. If the Soviets introduced uncertainty and abused the normal privileges and methods of diplomacy by maintaining a varied political, economic, and psychological assault on the non-Communist world, the United States warred on the Soviet bloc through appeals to the doctrine of self-determination. Arguing from the principle of self-determination, the West refused to recognize the Soviet sphere of influence in East-Central Europe, established with the destruction of Nazi Germany in 1944 and 1945. Throughout World War II, Western leadership did nothing to prevent this transferal of power to the Soviet Union, yet it refused to accept it as the basis of negotiation at the conclusion of the war. In large measure, the Kremlin, in establishing Soviet political and economic control over Slavic Europe, was mistaken in its wartime and postwar estimate of Western purpose. Since 1947 Western policies had been defensive in nature. Yet the persistent attachment of containment policies to the rhetoric of rollback and liberation sustained the impression of an offensive purpose, which appeared to deny to the Russians the tangible fruits of victory and to aim at the actual destruction of Soviet influence in European affairs. What this posture of not recognizing the massive changes that had occurred in Eastern Europe had achieved, beyond its contribution to postwar tensions, is not clear. It liberated no one. And it is conceivable that many of the unfortunate aspects of the Cold War, including the

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nuclear arms race itself, might have been avoided by more realistic policies based on interests rather than doctrines that have never really been applicable. The United States demonstrated its capacity to maintain the status quo where it appeared essential; it had not demonstrated any power— moral, economic, or military—to alter it appreciably. The West, under the mantle of American preparedness, could have what it needed; it could not have had much more.13 Nor was more demanded. The United States and the West coexisted with the Kremlin and its satellite empire for more than four decades with remarkable success. It would have been well for the Cold War antagonists to dwell less on the failure of their ideals and doctrines in the unfolding history of the postwar era and more on the decade’s unprecedented achievements. By almost every standard of accomplishment, the world passed through one of the greatest periods of history. This was true not only for the developments in science and technology and in material progress, but also for the genuine gains in the realm of politics and even of self-determination. This era had been marked less by the antagonism between the Western and Communist worlds than by the creation of dozens of new nations, comprising more than a billion people, as well as by the sheer economic expansion on both sides of the Iron curtain.

The Nuclear Domain If their respective nuclear arsenals best symbolized the long Soviet–American rivalry, they never realistically reflected any clash of interests whose resolution demanded a resort to such levels of violence. No issue that divided the two superpowers was worth the specter of nuclear war, even of conventional war. Yet never did the nation’s role as special defender of the free world monopolize its interests or activities as the Cold War, for most Americans, remained an abstraction, acknowledged but not understood. It levied few impositions on the vast majority who lived through it—confident, untouched, secure—conscious only of the unprecedented opportunities that the long experience provided. That said, what measured the true magnitude of the Soviet–American rivalry over the decades most visibly was the nuclear arms race. The United States, in secretary of state Dean Acheson’s often repeated words, must only “negotiate from strength” but, in spite of constructing the world’s most deadly arsenal, Washington never concluded that it had sufficient strength to undertake negotiation on basic political issues with

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Moscow. Nonetheless, each successive presidential administration after 1945—despite frequent misgivings—engaged in protracted negotiations seeking to limit, outlaw or reduce specific weaponry. Novelists, scientists, and scholars who described the horrors of nuclear war seldom bothered to explain weapons may be troublesome, even dangerous, but they were not central to the status of war and peace. Weapons do not cause war; they determine only its nature. Historically nations rarely, if ever, engaged in war over competition for military supremacy, but over conflicting fundamental purposes that engaged their perceived interests and transcended the possibilities of negotiated settlements. Overwhelmingly, the wars of modern Europe involved contests over territory or strategic entrances to major bodies of water. National ambitions were sufficiently specific to render most war predictable.14 Despite their extensive consideration of various nuclear war fighting strategies, the United States and U.S.S.R., through more than four decades of high tension and mutual recrimination, did not confront one another with force. Indeed, leadership of the two superpowers did not even approach such a decision, and the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 was no clear exception. Thus, nuclear weapons rather quickly lost their military utility as senior civilian officials in Washington and Moscow grasped the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear exchange would be so appalling that no political or ideological objectives could justify it. “Nuclear weapons,” Robert McNamara wrote in the September 1983 issue of Foreign Affairs, “serve no military purpose whatsoever. They are totally useless—except to deter one’s opponents from using them.” The stark reality of “mutual assured destruction,” grounded on recognition of nuclear parity, led to an informal nuclear weapon taboo. Yet as both nations spent several trillions of dollars on their strategic arsenals and nuclear weapons, these instruments took on a political nature. In Washington, officials assumed that the buildup of its military forces would contain Russian expansionism and compel the Soviets ultimately to accept some resolution of the Soviet–American conflict largely on Western terms. As this did not occur, the continued acquisition of nucleartipped weapons acquired a momentum of its own. The growing nuclear arsenals assumed an increasingly significant political role in the discussions between Moscow and Washington. Consequently, by the 1960s the superpowers began exploring various arms control measures to rein in expanding nuclear weaponry, a diplomatic activity that would dominate negotiations between the superpowers from John Kennedy to George W.

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H. Bush. In point of fact, arms control had become for years the primary, if not the only, area of political dialogue between the two powers. Secretary of State Dean Rusk noted that even if arms control deliberations went badly, “they provided a forum in which Soviet and American officials sat across from each other at long tables, sipped mineral water and discussed military matters that used to be the stuff spies were paid and shot for. So, in that sense, even … [the] disagreements were often salutary. The process was the product.” An official in several presidential administrations and strident Cold Warrior, Paul H. Nitze acknowledged that arms control endeavors had played a major role in negotiations between Moscow and Washington. “Of course,” he wrote, “Soviet-American arms control was not the sole cause of the relaxation of superpower tensions and the end of the Cold War. However, given the lack of diplomatic negotiations dealing with other basic political differences, arms control became the principal conduit for Soviet-American relations.” Emphasizing the significant role that arms control negotiations played as a political conduit during the Cold War, Nitze wrote: “Even in times of [political] tension, arms control trudged ever on in some form.”15 Unfortunately for the United States, the heavy price of success threatened its global leadership. The economic primacy of the post-World War II decade had given way by the 1980s to massive deficits at home, huge adverse trade balances abroad, and the rise of powerful, competing economies, especially in Japan and Germany. Not even in its industrial innovation and efficiency had the United States sustained its longunchallenged primacy. Foreign investments underwrote much of the U.S. deficit, prompting C. Fred Bergsten, director of the Institute for International Economics, to observe that the United States was caught between increasing dependence on “external economic forces and a shrinking capacity to influence those forces.” In the changing world of 1989 and 1990, economic power defined the role of nations.16 At the Houston economic summit of July 1990, budgetary constraints compelled President Bush to avoid any joint economic policy toward Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.17 Recognizing the diminution of American economic leadership, Michael Mandelbaum, spokesman for the Council on Foreign Relations, defined 1990 as “a time when the American nuclear surplus will be less and less important and the American fiscal deficit will be more important.” Similarly, Bergsten observed that the United States was “perilously close to being unable to play a serious role—let alone a leading one—on a growing number of global issues.”18

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Still, as long as the U.S.S.R. appeared to Americans and Europeans alike as an aggressive antagonist, military power assured the United States a pervading role in world affairs. America’s global leadership would be challenged, however, by the disintegration of the Soviet bloc in 1989 and 1990. Mikhail Gorbachev’s termination of the old East–West rivalry eliminated the confrontations that had, as The New Yorker observed, automatically yielded us a more sharply defined sense of ourselves in relation to a belligerent, untrustworthy Soviet Union: “They gave us a gratifying self-image, and an important, dramatic place in the world. In contrast, Gorbachev’s actions threatened to deprive us of an identity. …[W]e become less the defender of the free world and more a nation among nations. We lose a role, we lose a script, we lose a language by which we have come to be known to others and to ourselves.”19 The mirror by which the United States had defined itself was gone. The unraveling of the Soviet system in Eastern Europe deepened the identity crisis because it threatened to unravel Washington’s role in Western Europe as well. Throughout the Cold War, America’s European role demanded the presence of a threatening East; the Iron Curtain, now gone, had symbolized the presence of that danger. In the post-Cold War days the United States faced the task of discovering a new identity. Amid such profound challenges to its economic and military leadership, Washington faced the critical decision whether to perpetuate its Cold War role, based on power and the readiness to use it, or to reexamine its interests in a changing world, and accept the traditional workings of the international system and the historic limitations that it imposed. President Bush reminded a Texas audience on May 12, 1989, that containment had succeeded. “Now it is time,” he added, “to move beyond containment, to a new policy for the 1990s, one that recognizes the full scope of change around the world, and in the Soviet Union itself.”20 William Colby, former CIA director, observed in February 1990, “This is the end of an era of threat and danger and the time for building a new world.” For Robert McNamara the country faced “the greatest opportunity in forty years to shift from Cold War thinking to a new vision of the world, a post-Cold War vision.”21 Economist Peter Drucker noted that the disintegration of the Cold War required total change in American foreign policy and desertion of the assumptions on which it had rested. Much in the country’s Cold War experience lent credence to a reduced role in international affairs. Despite its extensive power and international commitments, the United States, throughout the Cold War, had faced

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unassailable barriers to its will in the sovereignty of nations. During the Reagan years, when American power was almost beyond challenge, there was little in the international realm that it could control. Even as the United States expended trillions in defending Europe, the European states played an ever diminishing and increasingly independent role in international affairs, seldom supporting the United States on issues that mattered to it. Emerging from years of the greatest prosperity in history, Europe again seemed to possess the strength and capability to create a self-contained equilibrium that would permit the United States to escape its long commitment to Europe’s peace and stability. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had found their competitive interventions in the Third World inhibited, frustrating, and unprofitable. The so-called Reagan Doctrine, in its program of supporting Third World democracies and anti-Communist regimes, proved to be ephemeral and politically unsustainable. Without perceptible threats to national security, or external challenges that the United States alone could resolve, the events of 1990 seemed to offer the occasion for a thorough reevaluation of the U.S. role in world affairs. Still, the end of the Cold War raised critical and pervading issues regarding the disposal of the huge Cold War establishment (suddenly without a mission), the nature and purposes of U.S. policy in the new post-Cold War world, the size and shape of the defense structure, and the role of the intelligence agencies—all created to defend the world against Soviet aggression. Clearly, the country’s powerful Cold War legacies were hard to relinquish, especially its new-found and often exhilarating role as a superpower, now the only remaining superpower, and the ingrained sense of obligation, one amplified by the long Cold War experience, that reflected its wealth, its power, and its self-assigned mission to serve the cause of peace, freedom, and humanity. What underwrote the widespread conviction that the United States must continue to play a leading role in world affairs was the supposition, held by many, that U.S. power, not the flaws in the Communist system, had brought the Soviet Union to its knees. That same power, still largely unused, added to the toughness required to employ it, could now dominate a unipolar world, assuring its future peace and security against whatever dangers and challenges might arise. Harvard’s Joseph S. Nye, Jr., observed that the United States was far too rich and powerful to enjoy a free ride in the international system. It was essential that it exercise an influence in world politics commensurate with its size and stake in the spread of open societies. But he warned

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against any American hegemonic mission to lead the world. “Leadership is not hegemony,” he wrote. “It means taking responsibility for one’s long-term political and economic interests.”22 For much of the country’s foreign policy elite, nothing in the passing of the Cold War seemed to dictate a careful, precise reexamination of the nation’s role as world leader and guarantor of international security. Even as the Berlin Wall was being dismantled in the late autumn of 1989, observers noted that Washington officials approached the post-Cold War challenges in accordance with principles that had guided U.S. policy throughout the Cold War. The country’s recommitment to international leadership demanded the perpetuation of large military appropriations— now rendered more important than ever by the presence of international terrorism and the intense competition among the world’s economic powers, renewed commitments to Cold War alliances, and potentially heavy involvements abroad. As early as October 1989, in The Atlantic Monthly, Harvard’s Stanley Hoffmann criticized members of the American foreign policy establishment for their refusal to desert the precepts of containment, clinging, he complained, to obsolete strategies and notions of global responsibility. “And yet,” he wrote, “this is the moment coolly to re-evaluate American interests in the world. For many years our perceptions (often mistaken) of the Soviets drove our policy and defined, or distorted, our interests.” Clearly, the time had come for America to rethink anew its position on the world stage.

Contention of This Book As this book will illustrate, the nuclear arms race was one of the most defining features of the Cold War superpower competition between the United States and Soviet Union. While both states rapidly increased their nuclear arsenals, after two decades, each embarked on endeavors to reduce their stockpiles.23 Indeed, for more than half a century, nuclear arms control and nuclear diplomacy has been a crucial component of bilateral relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, now Russia. During most of the Cold War, it played a particularly important role as an instrument for controlling the arms race, as a platform for dialogue and communications between the two superpowers, and as an indicator of not only their bilateral relations but also the overall stability and security environment due to their immense presence on the global stage. When

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U.S.–Soviet bilateral relations experienced especially acute tensions, arms control would even act as a surrogate for the broader relationship. However, the end of the Cold War also had a twofold and conflicting impact on arms control: On the one hand, it made possible several landmark arms control accords that surpassed even the most ambitious proposals of the preceding era. On the other, the conclusion of the political and ideological confrontation between the United States and Russia occasioned a much more benevolent relationship, thereby lessening concerns of nuclear confrontation and the need for arms control to regulate the arms race. Of course, some would argue that the “benign stage” concluded after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its assertions in eastern Ukraine—decimating a significant portion of any arms control momentum present in the bilateral relationship. Further, the wider deterioration in U.S.–Russian relations, intensified by Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, essentially stymied any possibility of new agreements and reduced the prospects for protecting the remaining arms control structure. Indeed, while it was already experiencing serious strains following Russia’s suspension of its participation in the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the demise of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF), the end of the Open Skies Treaty, and the issues surrounding the nonrenewal of New START, have been massive setbacks. In addition to the potential loss of an essential mechanism such as New START to regulate the strategic nuclear balance between Washington and Moscow, the diminishment of other arms control instruments could lead to a return to a phase not unlike the one in which the Soviet Union and the United States were at during the 1950s, with each side pursuing its own programs with little respect to considerations of strategic stability. Of course, the continual deterioration of U.S.–Russian arms control will also have ramifications on the nuclear relationship between the United States and China, as well as between Russia and China.24 Throughout most of the post-World War II period, arms control has been a perpetuation of politics. When relations between Washington and Moscow were improving, arms control agreements advanced. When they were deteriorating, arms control was hampered. At varying intervals, when the relations were at an especially perilous juncture, arms control talks served as an instrument of decreasing tensions. The present fractious relationship between Moscow and Washington has the potential to be elongated, and the environment in both capitals looks as hostile to new arms control proposals as it did during some of the darkest periods of the Cold War, if

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not more so. Indeed, there is not a lot in the political goodwill domain between both states to indicate that arms control fora can once again be a driving force in fostering a better relationship, and broadly speaking, enhancing global security. Not surprising, the Trump administration’s “America First” approach to the strategic nuclear realm, meant that the United States shifted further toward pursuing unilateral enhancements to its strategic capabilities, including missile defenses, rather than being guided by considerations of strategic stability. This meant that at least in conceptual terms, the United States moved beyond MAD in pursuit of strategic superiority. Taken together with the declining and possible demise of U.S.–Russian arms control, this had the potential to spur a situation similar to the one Moscow and Washington were in during the 1950s and much of the 1960s, prior to, as this book elucidates, the initiation of active, sustained diplomatic efforts to limit the arms race. With both Russia and the United States seeking qualitative improvements to their arsenals and pursuing technological innovations, in both offensive and defensive systems, the task of sustaining strategic competition is likely to become more complicated and more costly than in the relatively simple era of mostly quantitative competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. Imperfect knowledge about each other’s capabilities and the inherent propensity toward worst-case assumptions will carry with them the risk of an increasingly unstable strategic relationship.25 As such, in providing a necessary revisiting of the Cold War period across nine chapters, this book traces the United States’ nuclear diplomacy and Presidential strategic thought during the Cold War period in transitioning across the early period of arms racing, through to the period’s conclusion when arms control fora and seminal agreements were realized, and fostered a much needed balance against the prospect of nuclear war. The book will illustrate that despite the variations of nuclear tensions during the Cold War period—from nuclear inception, to mass proliferation, to arms control treaties and détente, through to an intensification and “reasonable” conclusion during the 1980s (the INF Treaty being a case point)—the lessons over the last decade are quickly being “unlearnt” and the heightened periods of the Cold War are playing themselves out but with far greater consequences. With all of the world’s nucleararmed states modernizing and upgrading their arsenals, many analysts and policy-makers believe that a new nuclear arms race is well and truly underway. However, as the book will convey, this version will be different

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and encompasses greater security concerns exacerbated with the advent of new nonnuclear weapon technologies such as ballistic missile defense, anti-satellite weapons, and precision-strike missile technology, making nuclear relationships more uncertain and broader global security more unstable.26

Notes 1. Serge Schmemann, “A Gorbachev Hint for Berlin Wall,” The New York Times, June 16, 1989, https://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/16/world/ a-gorbachev-hint-for-berlin-wall.html. 2. Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” Federation of American Scientists, April 2020, https://fas.org/issues/nuc lear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols., Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013; and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941– 1991, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010. 3. “Doomsday Clock,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January 23, 2020, https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/faq/. 4. Katrina vanden Heuvel, “From the Hope of 1989 to a New Cold War,” The Washington Post, November 13, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost. com/opinions/2019/11/12/hope-new-cold-war/. 5. Amy F. Woolf, Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and Paul K. Kerr, “Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements,” Congressional Research Service report, Washington, DC, March 26, 2020, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL33865.pdf. 6. Ibid. 7. For examples of early predictions of Soviet expansionism, with the concomitant danger of war, see Joseph C. Grew, Turbulent Era: A Diplomatic Record of Forty Years, 1904–1945, ed. Walter Johnson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1952), II:1446; Mark Ethridge’s memorandum on Bulgaria and Rumania, December 7, 1945, Foreign Relations of the United States, Diplomatic Papers (hereafter FRUS), 1945: V (Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O., 1967), 637; John D. Hickerson to James Byrnes, December 10, 1945, ibid., IV (Washington, 1968), 407; Joint Chiefs of Staff quoted in Melvyn P. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992), 50. 8. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Near East and Africa, Volume VII, The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State, at Paris, 740.00119 Council/8–1546: Telegram, Washington, August

1

9.

10. 11.

12.

13. 14. 15.

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15, 1946, https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1946v07/ d659. Ball quote from Gordon R. Mitchell, Strategic Deception (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000), 81; see Fredrik Logevall, “A Critique of Containment,” Diplomatic History 28 (September 2004): 473, 482; U.S. Senate Preparedness Investigation Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, Hearings on the Military Aspects and Implications of Nuclear Test Ban Proposals and Related Matters, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. (Washington, DC: GPO, May–August 1963): 644; Strobe Talbott, “Rethinking the Red Menace,” Time 135 (January 1, 1990): 36–38. Ibid. Norman A. Graebner, Richard Dean Burns, and Joseph M. Siracusa, America and the Cold War, 1941–1991: A Realist Interpretation, Volume 1 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International, 2010). Quoted in Norman A. Graebner, Richard Dean Burns, and Joseph M. Siracusa, Reagan, Bush, Gorbachev: Revisiting the End of the Cold War (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger Security International, 2008),138. Joseph M. Siracusa, Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner, America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). Ibid. George Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (New York: Knopf, 1998), xi; Rusk quoted in Strobe Talbott, Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 19–20; Paul H. Nitze, “Foreword,” in Aleksandr’ G. Savel’yev and Nikolay N. Detinov, The Big Five: Arms Control Decision-Making in the Soviet Union (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995), xi–xii. Writers who noted the economic basis of America’s apparent decline as a world power are Paul M. Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987); David P. Calleo, Beyond American Hegemony: The Future of the Western Alliance (New York: Basic Books, 1987); James Fallows, More Like Us: Making America Great Again (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989); Russell Mead, Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987); and David Halberstam, The Reckoning (New York: Morrow, 1986); C. Fred Bergsten, “The World Economy After the Cold War,” Foreign Affairs 69 (Summer 1990): 96–112; Samuel P. Huntington, “America’s Changing Strategic Interests,” Survival 33 (January/February 1991), 16; C. Fred Bergsten, “The Primacy of Economics,” Foreign Policy 87 (Summer 1992): 4. On Germany’s economic leadership see Richard Cohn in The Washington Post, July 18, 1990, A23; R. W. Appel, Jr., in The New York Times, July 8, 1990, E1.

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17. Newsweek (July 9, 1990): 29; David Hoffman and Dan Balz in The Washington Post, July 12, 1990, A8. 18. Bergsten, “The Primacy of Economics,” 13; Joel Kotkin in The Washington Post, May 20, 1990, B1, B4. Some writers pointed to American culture and other forms of soft influence, and argued, with considerable prescience, that low productivity and budgetary problems were only temporary. See Kenneth Auchincloss in Newsweek (July 16, 1990): 31; Henry R. Nau, The Myth of America’s Decline: Leading the World Economy into the 1990s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 1990). 19. The New Yorker, March 13, 1989, 25. 20. Bush quoted in The Washington Post, May 13, 1989, A15. 21. Elliot Carlson and Ray Stephens, “Cold War Thaw?” AARP Bulletin 31 (February 1990): 20; David Broder in The Washington Post, May 2, 1990, A23. 22. Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “The Misleading Metaphor of Decline,” The Atlantic Monthly 265 (March 1990): 93. 23. “U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Control 1949–2019,” Council for Foreign Relations, July 2020, https://www.cfr.org/timeline/us-russia-nucleararms-control. 24. Eugene Rumer, “A Farewell to Arms … Control,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, April 17, 2018, https://car negieendowment.org/2018/04/17/farewell-to-arms-.-.-.-control-pub76088. 25. Ibid. 26. Ibid.

CHAPTER 2

The Transition from Roosevelt to Truman

This chapter will examine the transition of U.S. nuclear strategic thought between the Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman administrations. During the summer of 1945, the administration’s range of options suddenly expanded when it learned that the secret Manhattan Project was on the threshold of producing its first atomic bomb. Throughout World War II, Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to share the secrets of the Manhattan Project with U.S.S.R. leader Joseph Stalin; especially against the advice of the famed Danish physicist, Niels Bohr, who reminded them that Western powers did not have an exclusive monopoly on atomic science. To mitigate a perilous competition between the United States and the U.S.S.R., he cautioned, they should include the Soviet Union in the Manhattan program, and thereby, establish the necessary foundations for the international control of atomic energy. Both Roosevelt and Churchill spurned Bohr and his appeals. Until his death, Roosevelt awaited the occasion when atomic diplomacy might extract special concessions from the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the president and his advisers never questioned the legitimacy of the new weapon. As later stated by General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, “we were developing a weapon to be employed against the enemies of the United States.”1

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_2

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The chapter will also elucidate that, after Hiroshima, U.S. officials and members of Congress hoped to command the future of atomic power by safeguarding the country’s ostensible monopoly of atomic science and technology. Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, concerned by the fragmentation of U.S.–Soviet relations at Potsdam, recognized the importance of preventing an atomic arms race with the U.S.S.R. through the international control of atomic energy. He suggested to Truman on September 12 that the United States approach the Soviets with an offer “to enter an arrangement…to control and limit the use of the atomic bomb as an instrument of atomic power for peaceful and humanitarian purposes.”2 Truman objected. So continuous was the national opposition to the apportioning of atomic secrets that he announced his intention to protect them all. Unfortunately, regarding the American atomic monopoly a threat to their security and international standing, the Soviets accepted the atomic challenge.

Truman and the Atomic Program In simple terms, Truman inherited the atomic program, unwilling or powerless to reassess its need or legitimacy. When, on April 25 Secretary Stimson and United States Army Corps of Engineers officer Leslie Groves informed Truman of the Manhattan project, none of the three questioned its use against Japan. With the expected test of the first bomb only three months away, Stimson, with the president’s approval, appointed a top-secret Interim Committee to consider the bomb’s future. Stimson remained chairman. The other six members were James B. Conant, scientific adviser and president of Harvard University; Vannevar Bush, director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development; Karl Compton, physicist and president of M.I.T.; Ralph Bard, Under Secretary of the Navy; William Clayton, Assistant Secretary of State; and James F. Byrnes, soon to become Secretary of State.3 In its report of June 1, the Interim Committee advised the president to use the bomb against a suitable Japanese military target as quickly as possible and without prior warning. Nothing less, Stimson argued, would elicit a genuine surrender from the Emperor. To deny the use of the bomb as an alternative to an invasion seemed unconscionable. The Interim Committee attempted to define the proper target for the new weapon. Stimson, at Conant’s suggestion, observed that “the most desirable target would be a vital war plant employing a large number of workers and closely surrounded by workers’

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houses.” For Groves and others it was essential that the target be large enough—and sufficiently free of ruination from previous bombing—to reveal the full destructiveness of the weapon.4 Not all Manhattan Project insiders agreed. Early in June, scientists at the University of Chicago’s Metallurgical Laboratory, under the chairmanship of the distinguished émigré scientist James Franck, prepared a report on the implications of the Interim Committee’s decision. The loss of confidence as well as the horror and overwhelming devastation resulting from the execution of the bomb, they warned, could overshadow the military advantages, even the notion of “saving of lives.” They advocated a demonstration of the bomb before representatives of the United Nations on a barren island. They predicted, moreover, that the indiscriminate military use of the bomb would virtually eliminate any possibility for achieving international control of atomic energy.5 On June 11, Stimson referred these warnings to a panel of distinguished American nuclear scientists, consisting of Arthur H. Compton, Enrico Fermi, Ernest O. Lawrence, and J. Robert Oppenheimer. The panel opposed both a demonstration and a warning to Japan. It concluded, in its June 16 report to the Interim Committee, that only direct military use of the bomb would be effective in terminating the war. Furthermore, the panel rejected the notion that the use of the bomb would prejudice future negotiations on international control.6 Drawing an opposite conclusion, members of the Franck Committee retorted that the greater the impact of the bomb, the greater the danger of an arms race. Only by not using the bomb against Japan could the United States assure the Soviets that the atomic monopoly would not be turned against them; a point explicitly emphasized by Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard to Oppenheimer. “Don’t you think,” Oppenheimer opined, “if we tell the Russians what we intend to do and then use the bomb in Japan, the Russians will understand it?” “They’ll understand it only too well,” ran Szilard’s reply.7 In his July 2 memorandum to the president, Stimson still consigned the achievement of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Kyushu invasion, backed by air and sea power. The atomic device remained secret and untested.8 On July 16, 1945, one day before the Big Three conference opened at Potsdam, the first atomic device exploded successfully in a spectacular demonstration at Socorro, New Mexico. For a fraction of a second, the light produced by Trinity—the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT— was greater than any ever produced on earth, and would have been

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visible from another planet.9 Stimson, reporting the news to Truman, noted that the president responded with a new disposition of confidence. Truman conveyed the news to Churchill who now saw “the end of the whole war in one or two violent shocks.” Truman’s advisers at Potsdam agreed that the bomb should be launched against Japan without delay. The decision to preserve the bomb’s secrecy ruled out any advance warning to Tokyo. Not until July 24 did the president inform Stalin of the bomb’s existence. The Soviet leader, he recalled, “showed no special interest.” Anthony Eden noted that Stalin merely said “thank you,” without further comment.10 In actuality though Stalin knew of the Manhattan Project and, through London, had followed its progress. Late in 1943, he established a small atomic project of his own. Perhaps Stalin’s passive response to Truman’s announcement simply measured his failure to comprehend the bomb’s potential significance; if so, this would soon change. Stalin informed Truman of the Japanese overtures. Neither admitted any interest in negotiating an end to the Pacific war.11 Stalin assured Truman that the U.S.S.R. would enter the Pacific war soon after August 8. He still awaited China’s acceptance of Roosevelt’s Yalta concessions of the Kuriles and southern Sakhalin to the Soviet Union. Stalin had opened his discussions with T. V. Soong on June 30 only to face stiff Chinese resistance. U.S. Ambassador to Russia, W. Averell Harriman urged Soong to remain firm. Secretary of State James Byrnes Byrnes cabled Soong from Potsdam to concede nothing to the Soviets.12 To the Kremlin it became evidently clear that Washington intended to end the war before a Soviet entry, both to prevent the U.S.S.R. from strengthening its position in the northern Pacific and to eliminate a potential Soviet role in the occupation of Japan. Nikita Khrushchev recalled that Stalin distrusted American intentions, fearing that a Japanese capitulation would produce a denial that the United States owed the Soviets anything.13

The Potsdam Declaration At Potsdam, U.S. officials made diplomatic overtures to end the war quickly without Soviet involvement. In the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, the United States, Britain, and China demanded Japan’s unconditional surrender without reference to the atomic bomb or the Emperor. The United States stipulated the terms of surrender. Japanese diplomats observed immediately that the presentation of terms defined the reality

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of unconditional renunciation. The terms demanded the unconditional surrender of the Japanese armed forces, the elimination of Japanese militarism, the concession of all conquered territories, and a peaceful occupation. That said, the Potsdam Declaration promised to continue Japanese sovereignty in the home islands; permit the military forces “to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives”; guarantee freedom of speech, religion, and thought; and allow civilian industry and, eventually, the reestablishment of Japan’s international trade. The occupation would end with the creation of a new government, and leaders of the Japanese peace faction readily accepted the Potsdam terms as preferable to a continuation of the war. Foreign Minister Togo observed that the Declaration’s terms were not synonymous with unconditional surrender, in that they imposed neither economic sanctions nor reparations. Kase Toshikazu of the Foreign Office, in his Journey to the Missouri, noted that the American demand for unconditional surrender included only the armed forces, sparing the Emperor from such indignities. He recalled that many Japanese citizens came to the Foreign Office to urge the acceptance of the American terms. Baron Hiranuma Kiichiro, president of the Privy Council, consented to the declaration because it maintained the Imperial House and Premier Suzuki shared the approval. As concluded by Kato Masuo in The Lost War, the U.S. offer “left Japan no sane alternative but acceptance.”14 Discounting the Potsdam Declaration’s assurances of a free, democratic Japan under occupation authority, assurances that meant salvation for countless Japanese citizens who feared and loathed their country’s totalitarian regime, writers condemned the declaration because of its emphasis on unconditional surrender. Martin Sherwin charged that the Potsdam Declaration, by calling for unconditional surrender, damaged the cause of peace with a policy that “bound together a fracturing war party in Japan.” Historian Leon V. Sigal was even more contemptuous of the declaration. In Fighting to the Finish, he condemned it as adding “little to the threats and promises that might alter Japan’s calculations to continue the war….” In denying Japan time for rational choice, the declaration, he concluded, was no more than propaganda. More than other writers, Gar Alperovitz, in The Decision to Use the Bomb, focused on the pitfalls of unconditional surrender, condemned repeatedly by Americans whom he cites in accumulating evidence against Washington’s refusal to grant Tokyo reassurance that the imperial throne would survive.15 Alperovitz, like other critics, gave no credence to Washington’s insistence that the Japanese

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acknowledge defeat. Beyond the avoidance of the phrase “unconditional surrender” and the outright acceptance of the Emperor, it is not clear what concessions the critics of the Potsdam Declaration believed permissible to advance the cause of peace and reform of the Japanese political order. Such judgments on the meaning of the Potsdam Declaration were lost on those who controlled Japan’s wartime cabinet. MAGIC intercepts of Japanese diplomatic communications revealed that “the advocates of continuing the war were winning over those prepared to surrender.”16 War Minister Anami and his supporters were determined to prevent a full American occupation, sustain the old order, and retain Manchuria and Korea. Powerless to challenge the adamant opponents of surrender, Suzuki, on July 28, announced to the press that Japan would ignore the declaration.17 Thereupon Truman ordered General Carl A. Spaatz to drop the first bomb when the weather permitted—after August 3. On August 6, 1945, the American crew aboard the Enola Gay released the bomb over Hiroshima to formally open the atomic age. The death toll, largely the result of instant incineration, reached between 80,000 and 140,000 people and seriously injured 100,000 more. On August 9, Sato secured a meeting with Molotov to announce Konoye’s forthcoming peace mission to Moscow. He learned that the U.S.S.R. had already entered the war that day with a well-prepared invasion of Manchuria. Later, on August 9, a second atomic bomb struck Nagasaki, instantly killing 24,000 and wounding 23,000.18 Not until August 14 did Soviet and Chinese officials sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship and Alliance. The treaty endorsed all elements of the Yalta agreements that related to China. Within a week, and with breath-taking ruthlessness, the Soviet Army in the Far East proceeded to occupy all northern China, northern Korea, southern Sakhalin, and the Kuriles, killing more than 80,000 Japanese troops. Still, Japan’s capitulation remained elusive. Anami’s power over Japan’s Supreme Council for the Direction of the War—the Big Six—rested on Emperor Hirohito’s continued acquiescence to the principle of unanimity. After long debate on August 9–10, the Supreme Council agreed unanimously only on the acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, with the understanding that it not prejudice “the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”19 At Truman’s White House meeting on August 10, State Department officials, led by Byrnes, feared that acceptance of the Japanese proviso would create a backlash from the Emperor’s

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outspoken congressional and public enemies. Stimson countered that the Emperor alone could assure the surrender of Japanese forces throughout Asia and the Pacific. Byrnes’s official reply of August 11 was intentionally ambiguous. It accepted the Emperor as long as his rule was subject to occupation authority; to the people it assigned the right to determine the ultimate form of the Japanese government. Truman, thoroughly attuned to American opinion, conceded only what was essential.20 While Washington awaited the Japanese response, Truman permitted the aerial demolition of Japanese cities to continue. On August 14, the Air Force dropped twelve million pounds of bombs on six Japanese targets. Still determined to prolong the war, Japanese zealots in Tokyo attempted a final coup. The effort failed.21 To the end both American and Japanese hawks held the psychological advantage, forcing the moderates to demonstrate that enemy terms were preferable to continued war. The Emperor, using his superior power, overruled the military. From Tokyo the Emperor’s message reached the Japanese legation in neutral Bern, Switzerland, where Allied emissaries awaited the Japanese surrender. On August 15, he announced to the Japanese people the end of the Pacific war, acknowledging only that “the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Europe” recommended a settlement of the present situation.22 The formal surrender ceremony occurred on September 2 aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

The Presidential Decision to Drop the Bomb President Truman took full responsibility for the bomb decision, believing he made the best decision he could, given the information he had. Oppenheimer asserted that he and other scientists always assumed that the bomb, if needed, would be used. Stimson recalled that no responsible official ever believed otherwise. None regarded the Hiroshima decision a moral issue.23 The basic justification was simple. The atomic explosion, the president explained after Hiroshima, ended the war without an invasion, and thereby saved countless American and Japanese lives. For Americans generally, and especially for members of the armed forces, that explanation appeared understandable and conclusive. Even the American public had long become somewhat inured, albeit by distance, to the notion of ruination from the skies.24 That said, among U.S. leaders there was no defining agreement on the role of the Hiroshima bomb. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey’s Summary Report of mid-1946, against strong

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countering evidence, declared that Japan, in all probability, would have surrendered by November 1, “even if the atomic bomb had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” In this regard, Admiral Chester Nimitz attributed Japan’s surrender to the devastation administered by the Pacific Fleet, while General Arnold found victory in the destructive air bombardment of Japan. General Claire L. Chenault pointed to the Soviet declaration of war as the final blow that brought Japan’s capitulation.25 Of course, none of these explanations ruled out the validity of the others. Taken together, the atomic bomb, the Soviet entry, the continuing blockade, and the ruinous conventional bombing created a crisis that enabled those in Tokyo who favored peace to prevail. Truman’s dismissal of the moral issue, as well as the piecemeal disclosures of doubt regarding the Hiroshima bomb’s necessity, soon unleashed a flood of criticism. From the left came Dwight Macdonald’s immediate charge that the Hiroshima bomb placed the United States on a moral level with Nazi exterminators. The Catholic Commonweal declared that the bomb defiled America’s victory, while the Protestant Christian Century termed Hiroshima “America’s atomic atrocity.” Editor David Lawrence of U.S. News believed that Americans, after examining their inner thoughts honestly, would be ashamed of the bomb decision. Samuel McCrea Cavert, general secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, reminded the president that his resort to the bomb “sets [an] extremely dangerous precedent for [the] future of mankind.” The early criticism would culminate in Baldwin’s seminal Great Mistakes of the War where the author lamented, “We are now branded with the mark of the beast.”26 What concerned many critics was the unprecedented horror of atomic destruction, producing not only the instantaneous incineration of tens of thousands of civilians, but also the death and disfigurement of additional multitudes from radiation.27 The conviction that the accumulating effectiveness of American air and naval power, not the atomic bombs, had probably terminated the war, merely aggravated the moral disquietude.28 Others condemned the decision to drop the bombs three months before the November 1 deadline, thereby denying Tokyo the necessary time to respond realistically to its deteriorating strategic position. What concerned British Nobel Laureate P. M. S. Blackett was the U.S. reliance on speed to block Soviet expansion into the northern Pacific, whatever the cost in a “cold diplomatic war” with the Kremlin.29 Finally, critics disparaged

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the pursuit of a speedy, total victory at Hiroshima without concern for alternatives. If the bomb was not necessary for victory, as many claimed, why did the administration not provide a peaceful demonstration, offer a warning to Japan, or offer less ambiguous terms of surrender?30 Washington officials met the Hiroshima critics head on, defending the atomic bombs as legitimate weapons, used justifiably to break the interminable Japanese resistance to surrender, and possibly save tens of thousands of lives. Karl Compton opened the offensive with an essay in The Atlantic Monthly of December 1946, arguing that the Hiroshima decision was the best available. Under administration pressure, Stimson answered the critics in the February 1947 issue of Harper’s. He reminded his readers that the administration, guided by the single objective of a quick victory, never sought to avoid use of the bomb. “The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” he wrote, “put an end to the Japanese war. It stopped the fire raids, and the strangling blockade; it ended the ghastly specter of a clash of great land armies.” The alternatives, he declared, would have consumed time and perhaps encouraged Japan to believe that U.S. resolve was weakening.31 Fundamentally, the defense of the Hiroshima bomb rested on two assumptions: that it saved lives, and that it created the necessary conditions for the Japanese surrender. Japan resisted surrender far beyond the point where the marginal benefit exceeded the marginal cost. Whether it would have capitulated before the November deadline remained a matter of conjecture, without substantive evidence. Equally questionable was the widespread moral condemnation of the Hiroshima decision. The moral issue in the Hiroshima bombing was the instant destruction of a large civilian population. But none of the Hiroshima critics condemned the targeting of cities. Not even scientist Leo Szilard’s admonition of July 17, asking the president to consider the moral implications of the bomb, contained any condemnation of warfare against civilian targets. The systematic firebombing of Japanese cities had razed over two million homes and killed some 400,000 people.32 America’s real choice in August 1945 was not between an invasion and resorting to the atomic bomb, but between the bomb and weeks or months of LeMay’s firebombing of every conceivable Japanese target—which, in time, would have created more additional death and destruction than the atomic bombs. Starving the Japanese into submission was scarcely a humane option. The Truman administration faced the imperative of ending a victorious war quickly and under terms that embodied both the country’s minimum objectives and the realities

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of the war itself. To end it, Washington confronted alternative modes of coercion, all increasingly drastic and effective. For such painful choices, the Japanese carried their own heavy burden of responsibility by refusing to deal, earlier and forthrightly, with the inescapable necessity of coming to terms with defeat.

Conclusion If the Manhattan Project’s primary objective in 1945 was victory in the Pacific, it carried a secondary, perhaps more pervading purpose of assuring the United States a predominant postwar role in international affairs. In sole possession of the atomic bomb, the United States, through a clear demonstration of its destructive power, might eliminate the Soviet infringements on Yalta, if not the unfortunate consequences of the war itself. To that end, Truman, in June, postponed the Potsdam meeting of the Big Three until he had received some assurance of a successful test at Alamogordo. The bomb, Stimson informed the president, would be the “master card,” bestowing enormous diplomatic advantage on the United States. If the bomb worked, Truman remarked in July, “I’ll certainly have a hammer on those boys [the Soviets].” The bomb was needed, observed Byrnes, not to defeat Japan, but to “make Russia manageable in Europe.” He also boasted that the bomb “might well put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the war.”33 After Hiroshima, U.S. officials and members of Congress hoped to command the future of atomic power by protecting the country’s alleged monopoly of atomic science and technology. Scientists reminded Washington that the knowledge that produced the bombs was scarcely secret. No less than the scientists, Stimson, troubled by the disintegration of U.S.–Soviet relations at Potsdam, recognized the importance of preventing an atomic arms race with the U.S.S.R. through the international control of atomic energy. He suggested to Truman on September 12 that the United States approach the Soviets diplomatically with an offer “to enter an arrangement… to control and limit the use of the atomic bomb as an instrument of atomic power for peaceful and humanitarian purposes.” Truman demurred. So continuous was the national opposition to the sharing of atomic secrets that he announced his intention to protect them all.34 Unfortunately, the Soviets, regarding the American atomic monopoly a threat to their security and international standing, accepted the atomic

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challenge. Within weeks after Hiroshima, Stalin expanded the Soviet atomic project with orders to restore the power balance as quickly as possible. To the Kremlin, the American atomic ascendency represented economic, technological, and military predominance that the Soviets hoped to equal, if not surpass. In rendering atomic power a key element in international predominance and prestige, rather than an issue to be put to rest, the bomb decision and the attitudes of superiority that it generated, transcended the military threshold where competing atomic strategies of unimaginable magnitude, danger, and cost, would remain an international security mainstay.35 Whether the American failure to advance the cause of international control exacerbated the burgeoning disagreements over Eastern Europe and Germany is doubtful. The issues in conflict had foundations sturdily formed during and preceding the war years. Any future competition and diplomacy over atomic power would reflect the accumulating fears and tensions, not necessarily create them.36 Byrnes, emboldened by the bomb, went to the London Foreign Ministers Conference in September more determined than ever to avoid any concessions to the Kremlin. Molotov, matching the secretary’s toughness and intransigence, instructed Byrnes that the Soviets would not be intimidated. Byrnes’ experience quickly demonstrated the profound limits of atomic power in the world of international diplomacy. Here, threats of atomic destruction could affect Soviet behavior only if the Kremlin chose to take them seriously, while conversely, Washington would never persuade the Soviets that the United States had any interests in Eastern Europe worth the price of war.

Notes 1. Barton J. Bernstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered—Thirty Years Later,” Foreign Service Journal (August 1975): 8–9; Martin J. Sherwin, “Scientists, Arms Control, and National Security,” Norman A. Graebner, ed., The National Security: Its Theory and Practice, 1945–1960 (New York, 1986), 111–113; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Memorandum on the Effects of Atomic Bomb From: Henry Stimson, Secretary of War to: Harry S. Truman, President of the Unites States

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3. 4.

5.

6. 7.

8. 9.

10.

11.

12.

of America, September 11, 1945, https://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/ library/correspondence/stimson-henry/corr_stimson_1945-09-11.htm. Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 496–497; Bernstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered,” 9–10. Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 498; Bernstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered,” 10; Interim Committee discussion of May 31, Barton J. Bernstein, The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues (Boston, 1976), 24; McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (New York, 1983), 67; Baldwin, “How the Decision to Drop the Bomb Was Made,” 45–46. For the Franck Report see Bernstein, The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues, 25–29; Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 498; Berstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered,” 10. For commentary on the Franck Report see Sherwin, “Scientists, Arms Control, and National Security,” 115–116. Stimson, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 101. Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 499–500; Bernstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered,” 10; Sherwin, “Scientists, Arms Control, and National Security,” 116. For the July 2 memorandum see Stimson, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 103–105. Joseph M. Siracusa, Nuclear Weapons: A Very Short Introduction (London: Oxford University Press, 2008), 20. Also see, Richard G. Hewlett and Oscar E. Anderson, The New World, 1939–1946: A History of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, I (University Park, PA, 1962), 389; Martin J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed: The Atomic Bomb and the Grand Alliance (New York, 1975); and Editorial, The New York Times, August 6, 1945, E14. Henry L. Stimson and McGeorge Bundy, On Active Service in Peace and War (New York, 1948), 637; Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, 638–639; Truman, Year of Decisions, 458; Eden, The Reckoning, 635. Japan’s peace feelers remained vague and uncompromising, although at Potsdam it mattered little. See Barton J. Bernstein, “Roosevelt, Truman, and the Atomic Bomb, 1941–1945: A Reinterpretation,” Political Science Quarterly 90 (Spring 1975): 57–58; for Soviet decisions, see David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–1956 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), Chs 6 and 7. For Byrnes’s desire to keep the Soviet Union out of the Pacific war see Byrnes, Speaking Frankly, 207–208; Byrnes, All in One Lifetime, 305–307; Herbert Feis, Between War and Peace: The Potsdam Conference (Princeton, NJ, 1960), 113; Truman, Year of Decisions, 401.

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13. Harriman and Abel, Special Envoy to Churchill and Stalin, 483; Byrnes, Speaking Frankly, 205; N. S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers: The Glasnost’ Tapes (Boston, 1990), 81. 14. Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, 69–72; Kase Toshikazu, Journey to the Missouri, ed. David N. Rowe (New Haven, 1950), 209– 210; Kato Masuo, The Lost War (New York, 1946), 233; Weinberg, A World at Arms, 888. 15. Sherwin, A World Destroyed, 235 (check); Sherwin, “Hiroshima and Modern Memory,” 352; Leon V. Sigal, Fighting to a Finish: The Politics of War Termination in the United States and Japan, 1945 (Ithaca, NY, 1988), 144–145; Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth (New York, 1995); Skates, The Invasion of Japan, 249–252. Skates declared that unconditional surrender “drove the war to extremes of violence in 1945 and made the atomic bomb seem almost a benign alternative to an invasion.” For observations on the Potsdam Declaration’s failure to strengthen Japan’s peace party see Baldwin, Great Mistakes of the War, 88–102, 107; Nicholas D. Kristof’s interview with Akihiro Takahashi in The New York Times, August 6, 1995, 10. 16. Weinberg, A World at Arms. 17. Kazuo Kawai, “Mokusatu, Japan’s Response to the Potsdam Declaration,” Pacific Historical Review 19 (November 1950): 409–414; William Craig, The Fall of Japan (New York, 1967); Kase, Journey to the Missouri; Stanley Weintraub, The Last Great Victory: The End of World War II, July/August 1945 (New York, 1995); Butow, Japan’s Decision to Surrender; Suzuki’s reply of July 28, 1945, FRUS: Berlin, 1945, II, 1293. 18. Siracusa, Nuclear Weapons, 23. For the argument that the Nagasaki bomb had no real effect on Japanese policy and therefore served no purpose, see Barton J. Bernstein, “Doomsday II,” The New York Times Magazine, July 27, 1975, 7, 21–29. To historian John W. Dower the Nagasaki bomb was unnecessary and thus comprised a war crime. See Dower, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Politics of Memory,” Technology Review (MIT) 98 (August/September 1995): 49. For Sato’s ultimate failure in Moscow see Sale, “Letter from Hiroshima,” 56. 19. For the long debate within the Japanese Supreme Council on August 9–10 see Sale, “Letter from Hiroshima,” 57–58; Walter Pincus, “Defiance Between the Bombs,” The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, August 7–13, 1995, 10–11; Butow, Japan’s Decision to Surrender, 244; Swiss charge to Secretary of State, August 10, 1945, FRUS, 1945: VI: The British Commonwealth (Washington, 1969), 627. 20. Byrnes to Swiss Charge, August 11, 1945, FRUS, 1945: VI, 631–632; Barton Bernstein, “The Perils and Politics of Surrender: Ending the War with Japan and Avoiding the Third Atomic Bomb,” Pacific Historical

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21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

Review 46 (November 1977): 23–27. Bernstein believed Byrnes’s note of August 11 unnecessarily dangerous because its limitations on the Emperor’s role played into the hands of Tokyo’s extremists. See also Sale, “Letter from Hiroshima,” 59. Bernstein, “The Perils and Politics of Surrender,” 23–27; Pincus, “Defiance Between the Bombs,” 11. On the attempted coup see Pacific War Research Society, Japan’s Longest Day (Tokyo, 1968). Fred Charles Ikle, Every War Must End (Rev. ed., New York, 1991), 93– 94; Paul Kecskemeti, Strategic Surrender (New York, 1964), 199–200; Sale, “Letter from Hiroshima,” 59; Japanese surrender, Swiss charge to Byrnes, August 14, 1945, FRUS, 1945, VI, 662–663. On the Emperor’s address see Dan van der Vat, The Pacific Campaign: The U.S.-Japanese Naval War 1941–1945 (New York, 1991), 398. Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 494; and Robert H. Ferrell, Harry S. Truman and the Modern American Presidency (Boston: Little, Brown, 1983), 56–57. Also see Truman’s conversation with Admiral Walter C. Mott in The Daily Progress (Charlottesville), August 6, 1995, D1, D6; and Godfrey Sperling’s interview with Truman in 1953, Christian Science Monitor, September 12, 1995, 19. For the military’s response to the Hiroshima bombing see I. B. Holley, Jr., “Second-Guessing History,” Technology Review (MIT) 98 (August/September 1995): 52–53; Alexander Burnham, “Okinawa, Harry Truman, and the Atomic Bomb,” The Virginia Quarterly Review 71 (Summer 1995): 389–392. USSBS, Summary Report (Pacific War) (Washington, DC, 1946), 26, also quoted in Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult, 36; USSBS, Japan’s Struggle to End the War (Washington, 1946), 6–13. Both this volume and Paul Nitze’s memoirs, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision (New York, 1989), 36–37, argue that the Japanese would have surrendered by November l without the bomb. For the views of Nimitz, Arnold, and Chenault see Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 517. Macdonald in Politics, II (August–September 1945), 225, 257–260; U.S. News & World Report, July 31, 1995, 54–55; Pincus, “Defiance Between the Bombs,” l0; Baldwin, Great Mistakes of the War, 105–107. For the horrors of Hiroshima see John Hersey, “Hiroshima,” The New Yorker, August 31, 1946; John W. Dower, “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Politics of Memory,” Technology Review (MIT) 98 (August/September 1995): 49; Dower, Japan in War and Peace (New York, 1995); Nicholas D. Kristof’s interview with Akihiro Takahashi in The New York Times, August 6, 1995, 10; The Economist, 336 (July 29, 1995), 63. On official U.S. efforts to protect the American public from the realities of the bombs see Robert Jay Lifton, Death in Life (New York, 1968); Robert Jay Lifton

2

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

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33

and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (New York, 1995). Sale, “Letter from Hiroshima,” 64; Skates, The Invasion of Japan, 249– 252; Kecskemeti, Strategic Surrender, 199–200; Sigal, Fighting to a Finish. In general, these writers agree with the USSBS’s rejection of the role of the Hiroshima bomb in ending the war. For criticism of the immediate dropping of the Hiroshima bomb see Norman Cousins and Thomas K. Finletter, “A Beginning for Sanity,” Saturday Review of Literature 29 (June 15, 1946): 7; P. M. S. Blackett, Fear, War, and the Bomb: Military and Political Consequences of Atomic Energy (New York, 1949), 130–143; Baldwin, Great Mistakes of the War, 88–107. For criticism that the administration never gave sufficient consideration to an alternative see Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War: The World and United States Foreign Policy, 1943–1945 (New York, 1968), 595–600. Such scientists as Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller never opposed the making and use of the atomic bomb, but they agreed that the administration failed to issue sufficient warnings and assurances. See William L. Laurence, “Would You Make the Bomb Again?” The New York Times Magazine, August 1, 1965, 8–9, 52–53. Teller, in a letter to Szilard of July 2, 1945, absolved the scientists of any responsibility for the use of the bomb, but believed that the American public should know the results of what the scientists had achieved as a warning against another war, a revelation that might come most instructively through its combat-use. Karl T. Compton, “If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used,” The Atlantic Monthly 178 (December 1946): 54–56; Henry L. Stimson, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” Harper’s 194 (February 1947): 97–107; Samuel Eliot Morison, “Why Japan Surrendered,” The Atlantic Monthly 206 (October 1960): 41–47. General Leslie R. Groves defended the use of the bomb in Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project (New York, 1962); see also Herbert Feis, The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II (Rev. ed., Princeton, NJ, 1966), 190–201. The defense of the Hiroshima decision may be found in Norman Polmar and Thomas B. Allen, Code-Name Downfall: The Secret Plan to Invade Japan and Why Truman Dropped the Bomb (New York, 1995); Stanley Weintraub, The Last Great Victory: The End of World War II, July/August 1945 (New York, 1995); and Robert P. Newman, Truman and the Hiroshima Cult (East Lansing, 1995). In 1965 Baldwin refused to pass judgment on the Hiroshima decision. See Baldwin, “How the Decision to Drop the Bomb Was Made,” 51. Bundy, Danger and Survival, 94–97; Thomas Powers, “Was It Right?” The Atlantic Monthly 276 (July 1995): 20–23; The Economist, 336 (August 1995), 16.

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33. Bernstein, “Hiroshima Reconsidered,” 10–11; on Truman see Jonathan Daniels, The Man From Independence (Philadelphia, 1950), 266; Byrnes quoted in Leo Szilard, “A Personal History of the Atomic Bomb,” The University of Chicago Round Table 601 (September 25, 1949): 14–15; Leo Szilard, “Reminiscences,” Donald Fleming and Bernard Bailyn, eds., The Intellectual Migration (Cambridge, MA, 1969), 124–126; Alice K. Smith, A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists’ Movement in America (Chicago, 1965), 29; Truman, Year of Decisions, 87; Morton, “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” 510. 34. Hewlett and Anderson, The New World, 419–421; Truman, Year of Decisions, 525–529; The New York Times, September 22, 1945, 1. 35. For views that the bomb decision and the rivalry that it unleashed contributed to the Cold War, see Martin J. Sherwin, “The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War: U.S. Atomic-Energy Policy and Diplomacy, 1941–1945,” The American Historical Review 78 (October 1973): 966–968; Bernstein, Hiroshima and Nagasaki Reconsidered, 24–26. 36. See, for example, Adam Ulam, Expansion and Coexistence: The History of Soviet Foreign Policy (London, 1968).

CHAPTER 3

The Truman Administration and the Security Context

Washington’s inordinate determination, following the Truman Doctrine, to assume unprecedented commitments to European stability, clouded the issue of military preparedness. Indeed, the perceived presence of Soviet expansionism in the creation of the Marshall Plan, and even the North Atlantic alliance, produced little examination of the levels of military preparedness required to defend the country’s as well as Europe’s security. The ubiquitous verbalization of Soviet ambitions, at times embracing immense regions of the world, created no real sense of military urgency at all. Rather, the exaggerated perceptions of danger that rationalized the Truman Doctrine, and the containment decisions that followed, confronted the military services with the admonition that they learn to survive with lower appropriations. For Clark Clifford, White House counsel, and George Elsey, Clifford’s assistant, the global Soviet threat did not rest on the expansive power of ideology alone. As the chapter will discuss, they accused the Kremlin of developing atomic and biological weapons, guided missiles, strategic air power, and submarines to extend “the effective range of Soviet military power well into areas which the United States regards vital to its security.” The report recommended that the United States rebuild its military capabilities and “be prepared to wage atomic and biological warfare.” So frightening was the Clifford–Elsey case against the Soviet Union that Truman impounded © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_3

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all copies of their report. Such growing fears and distrust of Soviet power eliminated what remained of the Grand Alliance and the chances of its revival.

The Diminishing Atomic Monopoly and NATO President Truman revealed the military potential of the bomb when he reported to the nation on September 2, 1945, that it was “too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world.” He announced that the United States and Britain would not reveal the secrets of the bomb until world leaders had created the applicable means to control atomic power effectively. At the Moscow Conference of December, Secretary of State James Byrnes was even prepared to seek an agreement with the U.S.S.R. on the international control of atomic energy, convinced that the U.S. monopoly had become a source of controversy and consternation.1 Before the end of the year, American, British, and Soviet officials agreed to assign the task of managing the future of atomic power to the United Nations. In January 1946, the General Assembly created the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission and charged it with the responsibility to design a satisfactory formula for atomic weapons control. Secretary Byrnes appointed Acheson and David E. Lilienthal, chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, to prepare the U.S. position. The Acheson–Lilienthal Report of March 28, 1946, proposed an International Atomic Development Authority to govern all phases of the development and use of atomic energy. Truman selected financier and long-time presidential adviser Bernard Baruch to present the American proposal to the UN Atomic Energy Commission. The Baruch Plan, unveiled in June, differed from the Acheson–Lilienthal Report by providing for sanctions, not subject to veto, as well as a program of on-site inspection—without which the United States would not destroy its weapons or reveal its secrets. Andrei Gromyko, representing the U.S.S.R., rejected the Baruch proposal and countered with a Soviet plan similar to that of Acheson and Lilienthal. Determined to have guarantees based on an intrusive inspection system, the administration rejected the Soviet formula.2 While members of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission argued over matters of inspection and control, Washington understood that the Soviets were pushing their own atomic program. In August 1947, the Policy Planning Staff concluded that the United States could better protect its security by creating its own atomic arsenal, rather

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than pursuing some elusive agreement on inspection. Whereas the Joint Strategic Plans Committee of the Joint Chiefs did not anticipate war in the immediate future, it agreed that the country, supported by Britain, required the power to confront the Soviet Union with superior force.3 By mid-1948, the Joint Chiefs of Staff predicted that the United States, in the event of war, would use atomic weapons in counterforce operations against the U.S.S.R. In September, the National Security Council, after consultation with other Washington agencies, accepted the necessity of an atomic strategy. In May 1949, a joint Army-Navy-Air Force committee headed by General H.R. Harmon, concluded that “the atomic bomb would be a major element of Allied military strength in any war with the U.S.S.R., and would constitute the only means of rapidly inflicting shock and serious damage to vital elements of the Soviet war-making capacity.”4 For Acheson, the decision to place Western Europe under an atomic shield did not deny the need of an effective NATO military establishment. “The first line of defense is still in Europe,” he told the nation in August 1949, “but our European allies today do not have the military capacity to hold the line. The shield behind which we marshaled our forces to strike decisive blows for the common cause no longer exists…. [T]he United States is open to attack on its own territory to a greater extent than ever before.” Because Europe’s vulnerability increased the danger of escalation, military assistance to the NATO countries, augmented by a major U.S. armament program, was perceived by some to strengthen international peace as well as American security. As such, by October, Acheson had pushed an elaborate mutual aid program through Congress. The Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 authorized the president to furnish military assistance to members of NATO, but only to countries that had requested such aid prior to the effective date of the law. Before receiving military aid, any recipient nation had first to enter into an agreement with the United States that embodied specific defense obligations. The Washington Post lauded the new program as “nothing more or less than an attempt to put more power behind peace and freedom than the Soviet Union can bring to the support of its aggressive ventures.”5

Tensions Persisting in Postwar Germany Shortly after the failed London Foreign Ministers Conference, Western representatives reconvened in London to dispose of the German question. At issue was a trizonal fusion of the Western zones, leading to

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currency stabilization, a joint policy for the Ruhr, and ultimately, the creation of a constitutional West German state. On March 7, 1948, France agreed, with security guarantees, to the program of converting the three Western zones into an independent West German republic. The London Conference on Germany, following detailed planning, issued a statement, on June 7, which authorized a Constitutional Assembly in Germany to prepare a constitution for a federal German government by September 1. The Ruhr would remain in Germany, but a six-nation International Authority would regulate its production of steel and coal. On June 17, the French National Assembly accepted this reversal of French policy toward Germany. On the following day the Western occupying powers announced a currency reform for their three zones. Soviet leaders were resigned to the division of Germany, but not to the consolidation of the Western zones into a potentially powerful antiSoviet state.6 The Kremlin had given priority to reparations, but intended to use its position in Berlin to exert some control over the West German economy, including the Ruhr. Soviet responses to the Western diplomatic maneuvers were predictable. As early as March 6, the Kremlin objected to the London Conference and warned that it would not accept its decisions. Later in March, the Soviets inaugurated measures to restrict traffic between the Western sectors of Berlin and the Western zones of occupation. General Clay warned Washington that any retreat from Berlin would expose the West to Soviet blackmail until communism would run rampant. “I believe that the future of democracy,” he wrote, “requires us to stay.” The continuing Soviet restrictions culminated, on June 24, 1948, with the suspension of rail traffic and, by August, a complete blockade of surface access routes into the Western sectors of Berlin. The Western powers, refusing to concede their treaty rights in the city, resorted to a massive airlift to supply the beleaguered population. For the isolated West Germans in Berlin, the airlift came as salvation. In subsequent negotiations Stalin recognized the Western right of access, but hoped to prevent the establishment of a West German government by making this the price for lifting the blockade. The expanding airlift, however, quickly undermined the Kremlin’s bargaining power. During the early weeks of 1949, Washington anticipated the integration of western Germany into the European economy. Under the impetus of currency reform, the western zones required larger markets. Clay, meanwhile, remained impatient over the slow progress in establishing a West German

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government and ending the Allied occupation. Kennan, already troubled by Germany’s lack of democratic institutions, opposed the London formula of June 7 because it eliminated any possible agreement with the Kremlin and assured the division of Germany.7 Kennan still favored a united, neutralized Germany, convinced that a divided country would incite German nationalism and discourage a Soviet retreat from the heart of Europe. Unfortunately, what guaranteed a divided Germany was less the London program than the profound economic, political, and social contrasts between the Soviet and Western zones.8 State Department officials feared that an independent, neutral Germany might seek concessions from both blocs and regain a preponderant position in European life. The acquisition of markets and raw materials in the East, moreover, might lead Germany into the Soviet bloc. For the U.S. President and Western leaders such strategic risks were unacceptable. The official American commitment to the London formula remained firm. The administration rejected the Policy Planning Staff’s Plan A that advocated a four-power arrangement for the creation of a unified, demilitarized Germany.9 In January 1949, Stalin announced that he would lift the blockade in exchange for a suspension of the Western program for a West German state. But, in May, he lifted the blockade without any resolution of the German question. Western leaders now agreed to present the London program for Germany as a fait accompli at the forthcoming Paris Foreign Ministers Conference. At Paris the Western foreign ministers, overriding all Soviet objections, announced their acceptance of the London accords and proceeded to establish the Federal Republic of Germany. John McCloy replaced General Clay as the top U.S. official in Germany and the State Department assumed control of German policy. Stalin countered the American triumph in West Germany by creating the East German Democratic Republic as a member of the Soviet bloc. That decision completed the division of Europe.10

The Beginning of Unchecked Preponderance Behind that remarkable succession of diplomatic triumphs laid the overwhelming predominance of American power, both economic and military. Washington gained its immediate objectives relatively easily, consistently, even overwhelmingly, because Europe’s postwar challenges gave the

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economic and military supremacy of the United States a special relevance. The war had transformed the country into an economic and technological colossus, even as it wiped out the remnants of the Great Depression. Geography provided the United States a strong hand. With Europe in ruins and the Soviet Union reeling from near disaster, the country’s economic superiority was absolute. The war had rained destruction on every major power of Europe and Asia, destroying countless cities, factories, and rail lines. By contrast, the United States, with its many accumulating elements of power, had escaped unscathed. Its undamaged industrial capacity now matched that of the rest of the industrialized world. It possessed two-thirds of the world’s capital wealth. Its technological superiority was so obvious that the world assumed its existence and set out to acquire or copy American products. During the immediate postwar years the United States reached the highest point of world power achieved by any nation in modern times. British writer Harold J. Laski wrote in November 1947: America bestrides the world like a colossus; neither Rome at the height of its power nor Great Britain in the period of its economic supremacy enjoyed an influence so direct, so profound, or so pervasive…. Today literally hundreds of millions of Europeans and Asiatics know that both the quality and the rhythm of their lives depend upon decisions made in Washington. On the wisdom of those decisions hangs the fate of the next generation.11

Following a visit to the United States in 1948 and 1949, British historian Robert Payne further observed, “No other power at any time in the world’s history has possessed so varied or so great an influence on other nations…. [T]he rest of the world lies in the shadow of American industry.”12 Unable to achieve the reconstruction of a united Europe in accordance with its principles, the United States secured its triumphs where it mattered: the economic rehabilitation of Western Europe and Japan, the promotion of international trade and investment, and the maintenance of a defense structure which underwrote the containment effort and played an essential role in Europe’s postwar burgeoning confidence and political development. Even as American military power reinforced the division of Europe, its economic and diplomatic power, working through international agencies for trade and monetary stabilization, contributed to the world’s unprecedented economic expansion. The rebuilding of Western

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Europe (and Japan), and the advancement of the world’s economy, remained the essence of the nation’s postwar international achievement. Whether or not these policies were required to stop the advance of Soviet communism, they brought confidence, and eventual prosperity, to tens of millions of people who had emerged from the recent war amid chaos, hopelessness, and ruin.13 Europe’s remarkable recovery rested on far more than American financial power and leadership. Highly instrumental in the West’s postwar advancement were the European contributions to the Marshall Plan and the encouragement of international trade and investment embodied in the Bretton Woods system, adopted in 1944. What added to the illusion of America’s global supremacy was the wartime destruction of all the imperial structures that had once set the boundaries of U.S. influence. The war not only destroyed the power of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, it had also produced the final demise of the French and British empires. Indeed, the United States, after 1945, expanded into a worldwide power vacuum. As a result, Walter Lippmann observed, “we flowed forward beyond our natural limits…. The miscalculation…falsified all our other calculations— what our power was, what we could afford to do, what influence we had to exert in the world.”14 Western predominance in global affairs resulted not alone from its economic and military power; it flowed as well from Soviet limitations. Whereas the Western World at mid-century stood on the threshold of the most substantive material development and prosperity in world history, the Soviet Union experienced incredible political sterility, stunted social and economic progress, and repression under its totalitarian governmental structure. The German assault, moreover, compelled the U.S.S.R. to bear a disproportionate share of the war’s costs. Even as Soviet citizens rejoiced over their narrow escape from Nazi domination, and their country’s first wartime triumph in 125 years, they wondered why they had paid a far more exorbitant price for victory than the Germans had paid for defeat. The Kremlin’s wartime failures and impositions on the Soviet populace resulted in astonishing death and destruction. Moreover, Nazi invaders destroyed more than two thousand towns and cities, demolished 31,000 factories, and slaughtered twenty million hogs and seventeen million cattle—altogether one-fourth of the country’s capital supply. The Soviet people suffered between twenty-five and thirty million deaths, while defeated Germany, despite the effectiveness of Allied warfare, lost far less than five million. The estimated 7.5 million dead Soviet soldiers

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numbered one in every twenty-two citizens. By contrast, the 292,100 U.S. military deaths numbered one in every 450 persons.15 Despite such losses, Soviet officials quickly canonized the Great Patriotic War as a glorious victory; for many Soviet citizens it was a disgrace. Stalin had long imposed on the U.S.S.R. a crippling, centralized regime, managed and controlled by the apparatus of the Communist Party through corruption, secret police, slave-labor camps, purges, and other agencies of coercion. The rulers in the Kremlin believed in vain that they could, through education, condition the minds of the survivors sufficiently to gain public allegiance. Stalin acknowledged the failure of thirty years of ideological and political indoctrination by turning more and more to propaganda and repression. The Cold War, with its heavy demands on production, served to justify his arbitrary power and inordinate impositions on the Soviet people. As American Communist leader Earl Browder explained, “Stalin needed the Cold War to keep up the sharp international tensions by which he alone could maintain such a regime in Russia.”16 The brutality, murders and imprisonments, were not lost on the Soviet masses—the real victims of the Cold War era. The millions who conformed to the demands of Soviet life, and enabled the regime to rule with some efficiency, did so less from conviction than from necessity.17 Soviet totalitarianism seemed capable of maintaining a functioning economy, embodying an inefficient agriculture, a technologically backward industrial machine, and a low standard of living. Soviet intellectuals and economists remained somewhat stymied, powerless to recommend improvements because they lacked the requisite autonomy to explore, innovate, and instruct. But the authority of the Stalinist regime to invent history and determine truth could not hide the Communist structure’s inefficiency and failure to match the performance of the Western World, either from those who lived under it or from foreign observers who experienced it. The Soviet economy, with its proficient military-related factories, sustained large and impressive armed forces. The Soviet victory over Germany demonstrated the country’s capacity to wage total war. But the Soviets displayed their astonishing tenacity, not in an expansionist cause, but in defense of their homeland. Nothing in the victory over Germany suggested that the Soviet people, having experienced fully the terror and costs of modern war, would respond with equal valor to a needless war of aggression, fought on foreign soil for objectives fashioned by the whims of the Kremlin.18 The war’s destruction, moreover,

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had badly weakened the Soviet economic infrastructure, eliminating, at least temporarily, the country’s capacity to sustain a major war. Such profound limitations on Soviet action did not necessarily curb Stalin’s ambitions. By subordinating civilian to military needs, the Kremlin hoped to avoid any concessions to the West until the natural flaws in capitalism would weaken the Western economies, mire them in depression, and unleash tensions and discord between the United States and the states of Western Europe. Such inviting conditions could enable the Kremlin to extend its influence, not by war, but by exploiting Europe’s economic and political chaos. What doomed Stalin’s plans for exploiting a weakened Europe was the unexpected and overwhelming U.S. commitment to the security and economic revival of Western Europe. By mid-century, the U.S.S.R. faced the greatest manifestation of opposing power in the peacetime history of the world. The persistent Soviet diplomatic retreats were evidence enough that Europe’s balance of forces had turned against it.19

The National Security Council and the Formulation of U.S. Responses Such ubiquitous demonstrations of Western superiority offered reassurance only to those who measured the Soviet threat by comparative levels of economic and military power. For American anti-Communists, whose central concern was Soviet ideological expansionism, the Soviet danger to Western security was only emerging. It was left for Soviet ideologue Andrei Zhdanov to confirm the conviction that the Kremlin’s challenge lay less in military power than in Soviet-based international communism. In his address at the Cominform’s inaugural meeting at Wiliza Gora, Poland, Zhdanov accused the United States of transforming the Western nations into an anti-Communist bloc, composed of imperialist and “antidemocratic” forces. To meet that danger the Soviet Union, joined by the “democracies” of Eastern Europe, would form an opposing bloc. Zhdanov thus divided the world into two competing ideological camps, reinforcing the already flourishing notion that the Soviet danger lay in the Marxist–Leninist advocacy of world revolution. Zhandov’s strictures confirmed the convictions of many Americans that the struggle with the Soviet Union transcended the specific purpose of keeping the Soviets out of Western Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. It had become, what many Washington officials long presumed, a

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global confrontation between communism and freedom, one unlimited in scope and magnitude. The immediate danger lay in the chaotic economic and political conditions that prevailed in broad regions of Europe and Asia, offering unlimited opportunities for Soviet ideological exploitation. The doubtful validity of liberal ideas and capitalist institutions in a revolutionary world suggested that much of Eurasia and its resources might still escape the West and fall into the clutches of the Kremlin. Despite Europe’s essential stability, by 1948 some American officials could detect no visible limits to Soviet expansionism. The National Security Council’s study, NSC 7, dated March 30, 1948, defined the Kremlin’s global challenge in precisely such terms: The ultimate objective of Soviet-directed world communism is the domination of the world. To this end, Soviet-directed world communism employs against its victims in opportunistic coordination the complementary instruments of Soviet aggressive pressure from without and militant revolutionary subversion from within…. The Soviet Union is the source of power from which international communism chiefly derives its capability to threaten the existence of free nations. The United States is the only source of power capable of mobilizing successful opposition to the communist goal of world conquest.20

With its seeming control of international communism, the U.S.S.R. had engaged the United States in a struggle for power “in which our national security is at stake and from which we cannot withdraw short of national suicide.” Already, declared NSC 7, Soviet-directed world communism, not Soviet power, had turned Poland, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia into satellites; it posed a direct threat to Italy, Finland, and Korea; it had prevented peace treaties with Japan, Germany, and Austria; it had rejected an agreement on atomic energy in the United Nations. “The Soviet world,” ran the document’s survey of Soviet gains, “extends from the Elbe River and the Adriatic Sea on the west to Manchuria on the east, and embraces one-fifth of the land surface of the world.”21 Such definitions of the Soviet danger created a vast dichotomy between the gigantic fears of Soviet expansionism, shared by countless Americans, for which ultimately no defense seemed adequate, and remoteness of any discernable military threat, reminiscent of Napoleon or Hitler, outside the Soviet periphery. In August 1948, the Policy Planning Staff

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drafted a more precise and promising statement of American strategy, embodied eventually in NSC 20/1. This document advocated a program to contract Soviet power and influence until the Kremlin could no longer endanger the interests of the Western World. To that end, NSC 20/1 distinguished between the Soviet Union, its power and ambitions, and the world Communist movement. Outside the U.S.S.R., the document declared, the Kremlin wielded power directly in Eastern Europe and indirectly in the revolutionary parties beyond the satellite regions. The document assigned the United States the task of separating the Soviet Union from Third World revolutionary movements by destroying the myth that revolution could create some new order of peace and economic progress. Discontented intellectuals who comprised the core of Communist leadership outside the U.S.S.R., NSC 20/1 advised, listened to Soviet preachments for reasons that would cause them to respond to other programs that promised salvation. The United States, therefore, would not succeed in destroying the ideological attractiveness of Moscow abroad until it had removed “the sources of bitterness which drive people to irrational and utopian ideas of this sort….”22 NSC 20/1 acknowledged the special difficulties in undermining Soviet control of Eastern Europe. Still so vulnerable appeared the Soviet satellite empire to overextension and fragmentation that even the goal of liberating that region seemed well within the reach of a countering strategy. NSC 58, of September 1949, argued more emphatically that Western security required the elimination of Soviet influence from the countries of Eastern Europe because they, in varying degrees, were “politicalmilitary adjuncts of Soviet power.”23 Yugoslavia’s defection from the Soviet camp demonstrated that stresses in Soviet-satellite relations could lead to a disruption in Soviet domination. By increasing these stresses, the United States might enable other states to extricate themselves from Soviet control. This could be achieved, predicted NSC 20/1, “by skillful use of our economic power, by direct or indirect informational activity, by placing the greatest possible strain on the maintenance of the iron curtain, and by building the hope and vigor of Western Europe to a point where it comes to exercise the maximum attraction to the peoples of the east….” How the United States would execute these attractive and cost-free means the document did not say. Washington had no intention of inciting war. To win without war, NSC 20/1 cautioned the government to “do everything possible to keep the situation flexible and to make

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possible a liberation of the satellite countries in ways which do not create any unanswerable challenge to Soviet prestige.”24 In NSC 20/4, approved by Truman on November 24, 1948, the National Security Council presented the last version, before mid-century, of its continuing effort to define a promising Cold War strategy. The danger remained unchanged. “Communist ideology and Soviet behavior,” the document began, “clearly demonstrate that the ultimate objective of the leaders of the USSR is the domination of the world.” In recognizing that any military expansion over Eurasia would tax Soviet logistic facilities and strain the Soviet economy, the document again attributed the danger to political strategies that would permit the U.S.S.R. to expand without war. This placed the burden of Soviet expansionism in the strength of the international communist movement and its perfected techniques of infiltration and subversion. Such psychological and political warfare, threatening U.S. institutions and security without military force, demanded a varied resistance sufficient to assure its failure. “Soviet domination of the potential power of Eurasia, whether achieved by armed aggression or by political subversion,” NSC 20/4 warned, “would be strategically and politically unacceptable to the United States.” Such seemingly imminent dangers gave the United States no choice but to promote the gradual retraction of Soviet power and influence until they ceased to be threatening. Again the United States would achieve that goal without war by placing massive political and economic strain on the Soviet imperial structure.25 Such cost-free, ill defined means for victory acknowledged only dangers so imprecise that they defied effectual policy implementation. Strangely, Yugoslavian President Tito’s defection from the Kremlin produced no reevaluation of U.S. strategy. Tito’s successful escape from the Soviet bloc demonstrated that the Kremlin’s control did not extend beyond the reach of Soviet armies. Indeed, in supporting Tito’s Stalinist Yugoslavia, the United States acknowledged the nonexistence of a Kremlin-centered Communist monolith. Still, the Soviet–Yugoslav split, despite its profound historic implications, failed to challenge the chief American Cold War assumption that all Communists were subservient to the Kremlin. That other Eastern European and Balkan states did not immediately defect was no demonstration of the binding power of ideological affinity; it merely confirmed the Kremlin’s regional monopoly of power. Nowhere could the Soviet Union’s imposition of Communist rule transform the occupied populations into citizens of the Soviet world. Such

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historic complexities were lost in the rigid ideological framework that forced all variables into line.26 From the U.S. perspective, America’s Cold War ideology of liberation denied the power of nationalism—the innate desire of peoples to be their own masters—as being the driving force in world affairs. In the events of 1948 and 1949, especially in the Czech and Berlin crises, the Cold War in Europe reached its peak. At the same time, the rapid succession of Western victories and Soviet retreats, added to Western Europe’s astonishing recovery, created the foundations of a profound East–West stability across Europe. Behind the corresponding U.S. consensus was the supposition that the United States had formulated a consistent, coherent body of external policies designed to protect Western Europe from the danger of both Soviet power and Sovietbased international communism. That body of policy toward Europe had evolved slowly and haltingly through endless debates within government. Acheson acknowledged the absence of both knowledge and agreement when the process began. As time passed, he recalled, “our preliminary ideas appeared more and more irrelevant to the developing facts and attitudes, purposes, and capabilities of other actors on the scene.” As the administration, through piecemeal decisions, established the main lines of policy, Kennan moved steadily from the center to the periphery of the process. At the core of the internal debate were deeply conflicting views of the Soviet threat and the best means of confronting them. Kennan never denied his abhorrence of Soviet totalitarianism, but never ceased to stress the limits of effective U.S. action in confronting it. By 1949, Truman’s top leadership, sharing the Cold War insecurities, had disposed of Kennan’s spectrum of restraining views. Backed by an overwhelming public consensus, it accepted the guiding principle of military containment. By mid-century that acceptance created consistency as well as predictability in policy formulation. That consistency appeared most forcibly in Washington’s persistent rejection of Kennan’s views on both NATO and Germany.27

Conclusion If America’s purpose in Europe was the stabilization of a divided continent, then by 1950 the United States had achieved its goal. The United States, alone or with its allies, would not change the status quo in

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Europe; and the Soviets had no power to do so. The Western capitals were not inclined to recognize the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe openly, but they had long coexisted, knowing both that the expanding economic power of the West did not require a free Eastern Europe, and that any direct effort to undo the Soviet hegemony might result in disaster. With the major antagonists compelled to accept existing conditions, Churchill, Kennan, and others called for negotiations with Moscow to adjust differences, relieve tensions, and perhaps stall a threatening arms race. Delay would serve no purpose. In a report to Marshall of March 1948, Kennan observed that the successful stabilization of Europe would permit the United States, for the first time since Germany’s surrender, to enter negotiations with the Kremlin, both to gain a mutual withdrawal of forces from Europe and to acknowledge the acceptability of a stable, if divided, continent.28 Similarly, Churchill declared before the House of Commons as early as January 1948: “I will only venture to say that there seems to me to be a very real danger in going on drifting too long. I believe that the best chance of preventing a war is to bring matters to a head and come to a settlement with the Soviet government before it is too late.” Two years later Churchill put his case before the House of Commons with even greater urgency. The Western position, he predicted, would become weaker. “Therefore,” he concluded, “while I believe there is time for further effort for a lasting and peaceful settlement, I cannot feel that it is necessarily a long time, or that its passage will progressively improve our own security.”29 For Acheson and officials in Washington, Western power had eliminated the need for negotiation with the Kremlin. Confronted with inflexible will over West Berlin, the Soviets had retreated. Following the show of Western unity at the Paris Foreign Ministers Conference in June 1949, Acheson announced that the West had gained the initiative in Europe and could thereafter anticipate eventual Soviet capitulation. On June 23 he informed the press: [T]hese conferences from now on seem to me to be like the steam gauge on a boiler…. They indicate the pressure which has been built up. They indicate the various gains and losses in positions which have taken place between the meetings, and I think that the recording of this Conference is that the position of the West has grown greatly in strength, and that

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the position of the Soviet Union in regard to the struggle for the soil of Europe has changed from the offensive to the defensive.30

Settlements, when they came, would simply record the corroding effect of Western power on the ambitions and design of the Kremlin. For Acheson, negotiation recorded facts, it did not create them. Meanwhile, NATO, backed by the atomic destructive power of the United States, would sustain the military division—and thus the stability—of Europe with a vengeance.

Notes 1. See Gregg F. Herken, “Atomic Diplomacy Reversed and Revised,” Barton Bernstein, ed., The Atomic Bomb: The Critical Issues (Boston, 1976), 136–142; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Graebner, National Security, No. 49. 3. Graebner, National Security, No. 50. 4. JCS 1844/l3, July 21, 1948, Thomas H. Etzold and John Lewis Gaddis, eds., Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945– 1950 (New York, 1978), 315–323; NSC 30, September 10, 1948, ibid., 339–343; JCS 1952/1, December 21, 1948, ibid., 357; Report of the Army-Navy-Air Force committee headed by General H. R. Harmon, May 11, 1949, ibid., 361–363. 5. Graebner, “The United States and NATO: Means Without Ends,” 151– 152. 6. Adam B. Ulam, Expansion and Coexistence (London, 1968), 440–447. 7. Kennan, Memoirs, 1925–1950, 429–442; FRUS, 1949, III, 694–751. 8. Kennan, Memoirs: 1925–1950, 428–429, 433. 9. Kennan, Memoirs: 1925–1950, 423–424, 443–445. 10. FRUS, 1949, III, 187–361; Acheson to George Perkins, October 19, 1949, IV, 469–470. 11. Haynes Johnson, “The War That Remade America,” The Washington Post National Weekly Edition, August 14–20, 1995, 9; Harold J. Laski, “America—1947,” The Nation 165 (December 13, 1947): 641. Article dated at London, November 30, 1947. 12. Robert Payne quoted in Newsweek, January 11, 1993, 36.

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13. Quite naturally those directly involved in the evolution of U.S. policy between 1946 and 1949 took great pride in the decisions. See, for example, Jones, The Fifteen Weeks, 259. Reserve their special praise for Harriman, McCloy, Acheson, Lovett, Kennan, and Bohlen for their creativity in helping to design the U.S. policies toward Europe. See The Wise Men, 18–35. 14. U.S. Congress, Proceedings and Debates of the 91st Congress, First Session, Volume 115, Part 20, September 23, 1969 to September 30, 1969. 15. Gerhard Weinberg, 894–895. 16. Browder quoted in Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., “Some Lessons from the Cold War,” Diplomatic History 16 (Winter 1992): 49. 17. For an evaluation of the Soviet system and the attitudes of Soviet citizens toward it at the close of the war and after, see Nina Tumarkin, “The Great Patriotic War as Myth and Memory,” The Atlantic Monthly 267 (June 1991): 26–44. Edward Crankshaw discusses the failure of Soviet indoctrination in “Russia’s Power: Not Ideas but Force,” The New York Times Magazine, June 3, 1951, 9, 31–36. 18. Journalist Walter Graebner analyzed well the wartime motivations of the Soviet troops in Round Trip to Russia (Philadelphia, 1943), 177–187. 19. Crankshaw, “Russia’s Power: Not Ideas but Force,” 29–30. 20. Report by the National Security Council on the Position of the United States with Respect to Soviet-Directed World Communism (NSC 7), March 30, 1948, FRUS, 1948, I, 546. 21. Ibid. 22. For NSC 20/1 see Etzold and Gaddis, Containment, 184–185. 23. Ibid., 212. 24. For the assurances of NSC 20/1 see ibid., 183. 25. NSC 20/4 in FRUS, 1948, I, part 2, 663–669. 26. Killan, 56–61. 27. Miscamble, George F. Kennan, 347–355. 28. Kennan, Memoirs: 1925–1950, 379–380. 29. Churchill quoted in Norman A. Graebner, Cold War Diplomacy: American Foreign Policy, 1945–1975 (New York, 1977), 57. 30. Acheson quoted in McLellam, Dean Acheson: The State Department Years, 163.

CHAPTER 4

The End of the U.S. Nuclear Monopoly

Having set the scene with the preponderance of American power in the immediate years after World War II, this chapter examines Washington’s thoughts, perceptions, and responses emanating from the ending of America’s nuclear monopoly. Indeed, for those who accepted the full range of American Cold War assumptions, two events of late 1949 would shatter the dream of a stable East–West equilibrium. The Communist victory in China, adding perhaps a half billion people to the Communist bloc, loomed as a disastrous miscarriage of the U.S. policy of containment. Official rhetoric warned that Mao’s triumph exposed millions elsewhere to Chinese encroachments. If the Communist conquest of China elicited only a limited U.S. response, for countless citizens of the United States and Western Europe it vastly diminished the security of the non-Soviet world. But the worst was yet to come. In late August 1949, the explosion of a Soviet atomic device terminated abruptly the American atomic monopoly on which all Western military strategies against possible Soviet aggression relied. Clearly, it seemed, the West’s external security policies required an overhaul.1 To minimize the impact of the Soviet atomic explosion on both the American mind and the American military budget, the administration discounted its significance. The explosion, the president assured the press, had not taken the government by surprise. “The eventual development of this new force,” he declared, © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_4

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“was to be expected. This probability has always been taken into account by us.” Acheson repeated that assurance, reminding the press that the administration, in its atomic policy, had anticipated the Soviet scientific triumph. Journalists and commentators seemed to accept these assurances, but some writers noted, with concern, that the Soviet achievement came three years before predicted.2 Nothing could deny, moreover, that Soviet weapons development, in time, would place American cities and broader security in jeopardy.

Adjusting to the Soviet Advancements It was precisely the aforementioned fears that the administration sought to prevent. The president had informed reporters as early as October 1948 that the United States could not afford military budgets of $14–l5 billion a year. The rationale for limited military expenditures was implicit in the Report of the Committee on the National Security Organization (the so-called Eberstadt Committee) of January 1949. The report asked the armed services to recognize that American strength resided as much in the health of the nation’s economy as in the status of its military defenses. The Eberstadt Committee warned that the projected $15 billion defense budget for 1950 was already “imposing strains on the civilian economy and on the underlying human, material, and financial resources on which effective military strength depend.”3 Much of the press agreed with the committee’s concern for financial restraint. Hanson W. Baldwin, concluded on January 16, 1949, that the higher levels of military expenditures, if continued, would ruin the country’s economy.4 Nonetheless, Truman’s ceiling of $15 billion received the full support of key Washington officials, including Louis Johnson who succeeded Forrestal as secretary of defense in March 1949. On October 30, the president signed a $15.6 billion defense appropriation. For the fiscal year 1951 the administration accepted a ceiling of $13.5 billion, with promises to pursue the downward course to $10 billion.5 Throughout 1949, the president’s moderate defense program faced an increasingly critical press, compelling him to explain its appropriateness. On May 22, the Washington Post called for the creation of a bipartisan commission on national security to determine whether the Truman defense economies endangered the country’s security. Congressman Carl Vinson questioned the impact of the president’s economic program on the effectiveness of the armed forces. He took up the defense issue in

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the House Armed Services Committee, instituting an investigation that carried into 1950. Vinson concluded that, in his judgment, the administration’s “economy scalpel has not only carved away some service fat, but has cut—deeply in some areas—into sinew and muscle of the armed services.”6 The requirement of having sufficient atomic weapons, to offset Soviet conventional capability, had driven the United States into a onesided quest for atomic supremacy long before the Soviet atomic test. Following the explosion—on November 8, 1949—Secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart Symington, reminded the administration that the country’s unprecedented vulnerability to major destruction required a stronger deterrent in the form of an expanded atomic arsenal and a more effective delivery capability.7 Meanwhile, the JCS endorsed the development of a thermonuclear, or hydrogen, bomb. Such noted physicists as Edward Teller and Ernest O. Lawrence, as well as Atomic Energy Commission members Lewis L. Strauss and Gordon Dean, promoted the nuclear bomb program, convinced that it had some technical feasibility. The JCS, in its statement of January 13, 1950, concluded that the “super bomb,” if deployed, could serve the cause of peace by vastly increasing the country’s deterrent capability. Moreover, the decision not to build the bomb would not prevent the Soviets from doing so.8 On the issue of the bomb’s potential destructiveness, the JCS memorandum concluded: “[I]t is difficult to escape the conviction that in war it is folly to argue whether one weapon is more immoral than another. For, in the larger sense, it is war itself which is immoral, and the stigma of such immorality must rest upon the nation which initiates hostilities.”9 Unfortunately, throughout the history of modern war, that stigma was often difficult to assign. President Truman responded sympathetically to the JCS memorandum. Not all in Washington agreed with this apparent leaning toward an amplified nuclear option. On January 20, Kennan submitted his personal critique to Acheson questioning the decision to base strategy incorporating weapons of mass destruction. Were the weapons, he asked, to be used in war or merely as instruments of deterrence? If their purpose were to discourage an attack on the United States, nuclear weapons would be redundant. If they were to assure maximum destruction, then their use would be as threatening to democracy as any other form of government. The modes of warfare, wrote Kennan, could not dismiss a nation’s obligation to human welfare. “The weapons of mass destruction,” he concluded, “do not have this quality…. They fail to take account of the ultimate responsibility of men for one another, and even for each

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other’s errors and mistakes.” As such, Kennan believed that a system of international atomic control, however imperfect, would serve the country’s interests better than reliance on weapons of mass destruction.10 Of course, neither Kennan’s arguments nor those of others failed to impede the super bomb momentum in Washington. On January 31, the president directed the Atomic Energy Commission “to continue its work on all forms of atomic weapons, including the so-called hydrogen or super-bomb.”11

The President and NSC 68 Throughout the late 1940s, Soviet actions tended to confirm the Truman administration’s worst fears. Two events in 1949, however, greatly shaped the direction of the United States defense effort: the revelation that the Kremlin had exploded its first atomic bomb on August 29, and the China Communist’s completion of its conquest of the mainland in October. On April 7, 1950, President Harry Truman received from the National Security Council a report entitled “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security.” It suggested four possible courses of action open to the United States: (a) continuation of current policies, with current and currently projected programs for carrying out these policies; (b) isolation; (c) “preventive” war; or (d) a rapid buildup of political, economic, and military strength in the free world.12 On January 31, 1950, several months after America’s atomic monopoly had been broken and in line with the president’s decision to determine the technical feasibility of a thermonuclear weapon, Harry S. Truman had directed Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson “to undertake a re-examination of our objectives in peace and war and of the effect of these objectives on strategic plans, in the light of the probable fission bomb capability and possible thermonuclear capability of the Soviet Union.” Moreover, the terms of reference continued: “It must be considered whether a decision to proceed with a program directed toward feasibility prejudges the more fundamental decision (a) as to whether, in the event that a test of a thermonuclear weapon proves successful, such weapons should be stockpiled, or (b) if stockpiled, the conditions under which they might be used in war.” Truman, acutely sensitive to the potential pressure to produce and stockpile such weapons in the event that tests proved affirmative, regarded the question of “use policy” in the broadest possible terms. Specifically, the president noted,

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“The question of our policy can be adequately assessed only as a part of a general re-examination of this country’s strategic plans and its objectives in peace and war,” a position that also took into consideration the incipient arms race with the USSR as well as related social, psychological, and political questions.13 None could doubt the gravity of the exercise. “The outcome,” concluded Truman, “would have a crucial bearing on the further question as to whether there should be revision in the nature of agreements, including the international control of atomic energy, which we have been seeking to reach with the USSR.” The final joint StateDefense report, “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” was submitted to the president on April 7, 1950.14 Thus was born Policy Paper Number 68 of the National Security Council—NSC 68. On the day that he announced his thermonuclear bomb decision, President Truman called on the departments of State and Defense to “undertake a re-examination of our objectives in peace and war, and of the effects of these objectives on our strategic plans, in light of the probable fission bomb capability…of the Soviet Union.”15 During the next two months the State-Defense Review Group created the seminal document, NSC 68. For Acheson, it was one of the most important documents in American history. As a statement of advocacy, NSC 68 reflected the determination of Acheson and his associate, Paul Nitze, Kennan’s successor as director of the Policy Planning Staff, to prepare the administration and the country for a vastly expanded defense posture. Nitze entered the task of framing the document, convinced that the United States would either enhance its own and allied military capabilities, or lose the peace.16 Designed to kindle the nation’s insecurities, NSC 68 comprised the final and most elaborate attempt of Truman’s Cold War elite to arrive at a definition of an adequate national defense policy. This document, like its predecessors, described the danger of Soviet expansionism in global, limitless terms. It concluded that the U.S.S.R., “unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.” Conflict had become prevalent, waged by the Soviets through violent and nonviolent methods, in accordance with the dictates of expediency. “The issues that face us,” NSC 68 continued, “are momentous, involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of the Republic but of civilization itself.” The Kremlin design called for subversion of the entire non-Soviet world. “To that end,” the document warned, “Soviet efforts are now directed

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toward the domination of the Eurasian land mass. The United States, as the principle center of power in the non-Soviet world and the bulwark of opposition to Soviet expansion, is the principal enemy….”17 Only by recognizing such dangers could America frame an adequate defense. “These risks,” warned NSC 68, “crowd in on us, in a shrinking world of polarized power, so as to give us no choice, ultimately, between meeting them effectively or being overcome by them.” To confront the Soviet challenge NSC 68 advocated “a substantial and rapid buildup of strength in the free world…to support a firm policy intended to check and roll back the Kremlin’s drive for world domination.”18 However dire the threat, NSC 68, like its predecessors, assumed that the United States, with “calculated and gradual coercion,” could unleash the forces of destruction within the Soviet empire. Washington had no reason to curtail its overall objective of frustrating the Kremlin design. Rather than pursue unconditional surrender, however, the United States would seek Soviet acceptance of “the specific and limited conditions requisite to an international environment in which free institutions can flourish, and in which the Russian people will have a new chance of working out their own destiny.” In this necessary effort to limit Soviet ambitions to the needs of Soviet citizens and the requirements of a peaceful world, the United States could anticipate support even within the U.S.S.R. “If we can make the Russian people our allies in this enterprise,” NSC 68 predicted, “we will obviously have made our task easier and victory more certain.” In the process of inducing change the United States would avoid, as far as possible, any direct challenge to Soviet prestige and “keep open the possibility for the U.S.S.R. to retreat before pressure with a minimum loss of face….”19 However grave the dangers portrayed in this most terrifying of documents, their elimination was assured without risk or war. Nitze and Acheson defended the document’s somewhat overstatement as a necessity. Nothing less, they insisted, would enable them to establish the need for a fully militarized containment policy. It was essential, Acheson recalled, that a public official, seeking to carry a point, adopt arguments “clearer than truth.” For Acheson, NSC 68’s purpose “was to so bludgeon the mass mind of ‘top government’ that not only could the president make a decision but that the decision could be carried out.”20 Charles Bohlen admitted that the document exaggerated the Soviet threat, but believed that the international situation justified its oversimplification.21 Dictatorial governments, NSC 68 lamented, could

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act with speed and secrecy, whereas democracies could not. The United States, therefore, could compensate for its natural vulnerability only if it maintained “clearly superior overall power in its most inclusive sense.”22 The authors of NSC 68 were not troubled by the lack of evidence regarding the specific location and nature of the dangers. For Nitze, the problem lay simply in the Marxist–Leninist notion that Communist socialism was destined to triumph everywhere. It was the very abstractness and universality of the threat that rendered it so awesome. NSC 68 itself warned that a program for the rapid buildup of military strength would place heavy demands on the American people, requiring courage and sacrifice. “Budgetary considerations,” the document concluded, “will need to be subordinated to the stark face that our very independence as a nation may be at stake.”23 What ultimately made the higher military expenditures both possible and feasible was the Keynesian view of national economic management as advocated by Leon Keyserling, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Keyserling convinced those who advocated expansion of the military program that the government could resort to deficit financing and stimulate the entire economy without injury to the nation’s welfare. Although it embodied a full response to Soviet expansionism, NSC 68 anticipated neither war nor peace, but rather the continuation of global conflict until the Kremlin chose to accept the implications of its declining world role. That minority of Americans who doubted that the United States could dominate the U.S.S.R. without war, pressed Acheson to explain the Western buildup of power. In confronting his critics, Acheson rationalized his preoccupation with power as a temporary condition, preparatory to an eventual resolution of the Cold War largely on Western terms. Until the U.S. advantage was sufficient to produce precisely that result, Acheson preferred that the West avoid any negotiations. The very notion of a global conflict in a fluid power relationship, he asserted, rendered all diplomatic settlements elusive, meaningless, and perhaps dangerous. Any accommodation that recognized the existing spheres of influence would merely encourage the Soviets in their pursuit of world domination.24 To deflate the notion that power had become an end in itself and gave the nation’s defense policies—especially after the hydrogen bomb decision—a needed sense of purpose, Acheson developed the promising concept of negotiation from strength. He first developed the theme at a press conference on February 8, 1950:

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We have seen…that agreements reached with the Soviet Government are useful when those agreements register facts…. So it has been our basic policy to build situations which will extend the area of possible agreement; that is, to create strength instead of weakness which exists in many quarters…. Those are illustrations of the way in which, in various parts of the world, we are trying to extend the area of possible agreement with the Soviet Union by creating situations so strong they can be recognized and out of them can grow agreement.25

Acheson’s concept of negotiation from strength meant, in practice, no negotiation at all. It mattered little. NSC 68 assumed that the United States could create conditions that would compel the Kremlin to accept capitulation. While NSC 68 remained a secret document, its precepts flowed through the official speeches and correspondence of the time. Throughout the spring of 1950, Acheson took the premises of NSC 68 on the road. What drove Kremlin policy, he told the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April, was not a traditional struggle for power, but a fanatical, expansive ideology. The danger was especially pervading because the Soviets had singled out the United States as the only country that stood between it and dominion over the entire world. “We are faced with a threat,” Acheson continued, “in all sober truth I say this—we are faced with a threat not only to our country but to the civilization of which we live and to the whole physical environment in which that civilization can exist.”26 Soviet military power demanded an effective deterrence. But to commit U.S. air, naval, and land forces to the elimination of the global threat that Acheson described, encumbered them with burdens that defied the creation of a rational policy.

China Enters the Nuclear Diplomatic Equation China’s intervention seemed to demonstrate not only Beijing’s irrationality, but also its absolute subservience to Moscow. “Those who control the Soviet Union and the international Communist movement,” Acheson warned the country in a nationwide radio address on November 29, “have made clear their fundamental design.” Truman declared on the following day, “We hope that the Chinese people will not continue to be forced or deceived into serving the ends of Russian colonial policy in Asia.”27 On December 7, the president informed the visiting British

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Prime Minister Clement Attlee that the government of China was “actually a Russian government.” He hoped that time would bring the Chinese “to realize that their friends are not in Siberia but in London and Washington.”28 Even The New York Times proclaimed on December 8: “The Chinese Communist dictatorship will eventually go down in history as the men who sold out their country to the foreigners, in this case the Russians, rather than as those who rescued China from foreign ‘imperialism’.” If the new assault in Korea was successful, ran a White House press release, “we can expect it to spread through Asia and Europe to this hemisphere. We are fighting in Korea for our own national security and survival.”29 That month, the nation’s acute state of insecurity unleashed a number of recommendations to strengthen the country’s defenses. On December 1, the president hinted at a national resort to nuclear weapons. He proceeded to create the Federal Civil Defense Administration. Acheson informed the joint State-Defense meeting that the UN Security Council was in a virtual state of panic. Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri suggested greater national austerity to increase resources for national defense.30 Two days later, Nitze suggested that the United States should forget China and concentrate on the Soviet Union. On December 9, Nevada and California began planning for 1.5 million refugees from Los Angeles in the event of a Soviet atomic attack. Five days later, New York Governor Thomas Dewey asked for total national mobilization, with a third of the country’s productive capacity devoted to national defense.31 On December 16, President Truman declared a state of national emergency.32 Two days later, Pacific Northwest skiers moved to organize 5000 skiers as a potential guerrilla force to defend the mountain passes against an invasion.33 On December 21, Senator Pat McCarran established the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. On December 24, the Georgetown University Vice President, Edmund A. Walsh, defended a preventive atomic attack against the U.S.S.R.34 And on December 30, MacArthur suggested to the JCS that the United States evacuate Korea and declare war on China.35 Clearly, the impact of such events on the American mind throughout 1950 transformed the Cold War from a stable, diminishing confrontation across Europe into a global struggle for the world, centering now in East Asia. Early in 1951, Dean Rusk, speaking in Philadelphia, delineated fully the new dimensions of the Cold War:

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The year 1950 was a very significant year in our postwar development and, it may very well be, in the history of the world. I do not suggest that Soviet Russia has changed…but during 1950 it entered a new phase in its aggressive program, a phase marked by at least two important factors. First, it has clearly shown that it is prepared to wage war by satellites so far as that becomes desirable to further its objective—not only wars by small satellites such as the North Koreans but full-fledged war by Communist China, a major satellite. Second, the Soviet Union has shown that it is itself prepared to risk a general war and that it is pushing its program to the brink of general war.36

At the presidential level such fears were irrelevant, for U.S. officials never confronted the Kremlin on its alleged wars by satellites. Neither Washington nor any other government could devise a program to counter dangers so perceived. For the world, the troublesome issues of East Asia were more limited and precise, and they focused on China and Indochina, not the Soviet Union. What concerned British and American critics especially was the continued refusal of Washington to establish peace with China. British Prime Minister Attlee’s agenda in Washington, during December, focused precisely on that question. It included firm opposition to renewed war in Korea, either through the unleashing of MacArthur or the resort to atomic weapons. He urged the administration to recognize the new Chinese government, to accept its membership in the UN Security Council, and to support a negotiated solution of the Formosan and Korean issues.37 For those who endorsed recognition, it no longer seemed reasonable to deny mainland China a major voice in Asian affairs.38 Instead, following the events of November, Truman moved to intensify the tensions by imposing a total trade embargo on the Chinese mainland and proposing a resolution in the United Nations, condemning China as an aggressor. For the critics, both decisions—largely for domestic consumption—would knowingly aggravate U.S.–Chinese animosities without purpose or perceivable end.39 Additionally, the mounting Korean crisis seemed to demand a restructuring of the country’s defense establishment. As Acheson expressed it, the North Korean invasion revealed fully the dangers that the country faced. Its impact on the budget was immediate and profound. The president’s initial request, in July 1950, for $10 billion in increased defense authorization for fiscal year 1951 passed unanimously without debate. That was the first of four requests that, by December, carried the

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year’s military appropriations from $13.5 billion to $48.2 billion. The administration formally adopted NSC 68 on September 30, 1950. That document, the president and National Security Council agreed, would guide U.S. policy for the next four or five years, with implementation coming as quickly as possible.40 Subsequent modifications of the program culminated in NSC 68/4, adopted in December, which called for “an effort to achieve, under the shield of the military build-up, an integrated political, economic, and psychological offensive designed to counter the current threat to national security posed by the Soviet Union.”41

The European Foci, NATO, and Germany Despite the Korean War’s profound impact on presidential thought, U.S. military planners continued to regard Europe as the key to global peace and stability, requiring ever-larger commitments of capital and humanpower for defense against the Soviet threat. For countless Americans, however, the notion of a peacetime obligation to European security remained unacceptable. The Republican opposition—much of it traditionally isolationist—crystallized around the leadership of Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. To Taft and his supporters, the administration exaggerated the danger. For five years, observed North Dakota’s Usher Burdick, Western Europe had been exposed to overwhelming Soviet forces; still the Kremlin had not been troublesome. For Taft, a proper U.S. strategy would emphasize atomic deterrence as well as naval and air defenses of the United States itself. On December 20, 1950, former President Herbert Hoover, in a national radio and television broadcast, elaborated the standard isolationist theme that the United States avoid a commitment to Europe’s defense and “preserve this Western Hemisphere Gibraltar” through reduced expenditures and balanced budgets.42 This emerging national debate focused on two issues: the increase in the number of permanent U.S. divisions in Europe from two to six, and the authorization of $7.5 billion in economic and military assistance under the Mutual Security Act of 1951. The president defended the administration’s program in an address to the nation on December 15: I am talking to you tonight about what our country is up against. Our homes, our Nation, all the things we believe in are in great danger. This danger has been created by the rulers of the Soviet Union…. The future

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of civilization depends on what we do…. All of us will have to pay more taxes and do without things we like…. We must…work with the other free nations to strengthen our combined defenses…build up our own Army, Navy, and Air Force, and make more weapons for ourselves and our allies.43

Truman appealed to Congress to reject partisanship and stand together as Americans in support of measures essential for the country’s security. To Republican arguments that the U.S. security required neither additional troops in Europe nor additional expenditures for mutual defense, administration Democrats retorted that those who opposed the administration would carry the responsibility for the West’s profound vulnerability. National insecurities seemed to assure the administration’s command of Congress. Still, Lovett and others recommended the creation of a nonpartisan group of distinguished citizens to defend the measures before Congress. Harvard President James B. Conant agreed to head the socalled Committee on the Present Danger. The Committee, consisting of twenty-five leaders in American life, announced its existence on December 13, 1950. Its inaugural statement set the tone of its crusade on behalf of a stronger national defense: “The aggressive designs of the Soviet Union are unmistakingly plain…. Unless an adequate support for the atomic potential of the United States is brought into existence, the time may soon come when all of Continental Europe can be forced into the Communist fold.”44 The Committee’s play on national insecurities kept pace with the countering Republican denials that the country faced any dangers. The public stature of its members guaranteed the Committee its share of the headlines. Following the president’s State of the Union address in January 1951, The New York Times carried the Committee’s warning: “A menacing despotic power, bent on conquering the world, has twice in recent months in Korea resorted to aggression…. Europe is the next great prize Russia seeks.” Beginning in March, the Committee began a series of weekly radio broadcasts over the Mutual Broadcasting System,45 and by the spring of 1951, the administration had captured the public mind. On April 4 the Senate approved the sending of additional troops to Europe, 69 to 21. The debate over military and economic aid continued through the summer and autumn. The Senate approved the $7.5 billion mutual security measure on October 2, 56 to 21. The House concurred three days later.

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European leaders and the American president himself saw the chief deterrent to Communist expansion in the collective forces of the North Atlantic community. In May 1950, John J. McCloy, retiring High Commissioner for Germany, declared that German troops were required for the defense of Europe. In September, the foreign ministers of the United States, Britain, and France, responding to the shock of the Korean War, agreed that the creation of a national German army would serve the best interests of both Germany and Western Europe. They authorized the German government at Bonn to establish its own foreign office and enter into diplomatic relations with foreign countries. In December, the NATO Council unanimously asked President Truman to select a supreme commander. Truman named General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then president of Columbia University, to the task of translating NATO military plans into armed forces in being. France opposed the incorporation of West Germany into NATO’s military structure, convinced that a revived Germany, militarily strong and free to pursue its historic ambitions, would unleash unwanted tensions across Europe. To assure its security against an armed Germany, France proposed the creation of a European Defense Community (EDC), a supranational body within NATO that would limit and control Germany’s contribution to Europe’s defense. The EDC proposal, as finally adopted by the NATO governments in May 1952, ended the allied occupation of Germany and provided for a German contribution of twelve divisions to Europe’s defense, with all military units above division level under multinational control. Equally important for French security, the EDC would deny Germany the right to manufacture aircraft, heavy ships, or atomic, chemical, and biological weapons without unanimous NATO Council approval. Germany ratified the EDC despite the widespread fear among Germans that NATO membership would challenge Soviet security interests sufficiently to guarantee Germany’s permanent division.46

The President and the Full Swing of Preponderance Following the adoption of NSC 68 in September 1950, the United States sought, not a balance, but a preponderance of power. “[T]o seek less than preponderant power,” Nitze averred, “would be to opt for defeat. Preponderant power must be the object of U.S. policy.”47 After 1950, the United States sought military capabilities sufficient to defend Europe,

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the Middle East, and East Asia with little support from Britain and France. Behind that pursuit of global containment was the astonishing outpouring of planes, tanks, and other equipment from American factories. By early 1953, the volume was almost seven times that of three years earlier. This augmentation of U.S. strategic power focused primarily on the Air Force and the atomic arsenal. The unprecedented peacetime levels of military production enabled Washington to furnish equipment to NATO and other allies, long promised but not delivered. Outside Europe, the guns and supplies went largely to those at war with Communistled forces in Korea, Indochina, and Formosa. During 1951 and 1952, U.S. covert operations designed to forestall possible Communist aggression increased 16-fold. Much of that activity, limited and ineffectual, attempted to sew discord in Eastern Europe and weaken the Kremlin’s hold on that region.48 A fearful public entrusted Washington with enormous power to fight the Cold War, confident that it would protect the nation’s security while avoiding unnecessary trouble. For most advocates of preponderance, containment, as the term implied, remained largely defensive. Its objective was essentially that of stabilizing the Cold War world, protecting the immense body of interests that Soviet policy had not touched, and enabling Western civilization to continue its postwar evolution in what was, after mid-century, a remarkably secure environment. Behind the walls of military preponderance, Washington officials sought the economic and political progress of Western Europe, as well as the conversion of Germany and Japan into prosperous, democratic friends. Such policies presumed that the issue between the United States and the U.S.S.R. was imperialism, not revolution.49 This rendered the Soviet danger, measurable by interest and power, subject to Western military constraints. What actual dangers the U.S.S.R. posed to Europe’s peace defied any accurate appraisal. Preponderance in itself would not produce change or assure any triumphs for self-determination in Eastern Europe, but it would add an essential element of stability to a situation long established. What military preponderance meant for containment in Asia remained exceedingly elusive. Asian communism was indigenous and not necessarily expansive; it presented no discernable military challenges. Not even China had made any effort to extend its control beyond its traditional borders. In Korea, where the issue was international aggression, allied military successes had gained no more than a costly stalemate in a small, peripheral arena bordering the sea. Korea, troublesome enough,

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stood in sharp contrast to the immensity of the Asian continent. Yet the United States, in supporting the French, had already trapped itself in a doubtful Indochinese struggle for national unification in the name of containment.50 The U.S.S.R., no more than the United States, had a dubious future on the Asian continent; both China and Indochina remained outside its grasp. A strong, unified China, bordering the Soviet Union’s long Asiatic frontier, had been a nightmare to Russian governments for centuries. The words of Russia’s famed foreign minister, Sergei Sazonov, uttered in 1912, still had meaning: “Germany is interested in China as a market and she fears China’s disintegration…. Russia, on the contrary, as a nation bordering China, and with a long, unfortified frontier, cannot wish for the strengthening of her neighbor: she could therefore not view with equanimity the collapse of modern China.”51 The Soviet quest for a truce along Korea’s 38th parallel discounted the presumptions of a Kremlin design on the entire Pacific basin. The Soviets had recognized the price of war in the western Pacific.52 There would be no more Koreas. Asia belonged to the Asians. To challenge that reality, as Korea and Indochina demonstrated, would be costly indeed. Such profound limitations on the use of force scarcely assuaged the insecurities of those Americans for whom coexistence presaged disaster. For them, the Kremlin’s historical dialectic—which assured the global triumph of communism—underlay the Soviet drive for world domination. As a determinant of policy, anti-communism overlooked the fact that the Communist world was “rent” by conflicting nationalisms, and that much of the Communist bloc harbored no allegiance to the Kremlin at all. Anti-communism defined dangers so universally, yet so capriciously, that it defied the creation of policy. Any crusade against communism would extend the country’s security interests and proclaim national objectives beyond the capacity of U.S. military power, at any level of effectiveness, to achieve.53 Amid such limitations, Washington never developed any program designed to free Eastern Europe, China, or the Soviet Union from Communist control. By 1952 the United States had gained a position of leadership and influence in world affairs unprecedented in modern times. The American empire did not involve formal political control over other states, but rather comprised, as Geir Lundestad aptly defined it, “a hierarchical system of political relationships, with one power clearly being much stronger than any other.”54 American influence eventually encompassed not only Germany and Japan but also, through alliances

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and economic aid, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Latin America. Built on consent, the American empire reflected a body of mutual advantages that sustained the relationship. Countries such as France accepted U.S. leadership and all that it entailed, reluctantly but profitably.55 Nowhere did the assent rest on total agreement with U.S. policies or their assumptions of danger. For Europeans, the challenges that mattered were largely European, and those challenges Western leaders had faced with enough resolution and success to stabilize the continent. As the European powers, always in control of their decisions, regained, after mid-century, much of their former confidence, their cooperation required ever-greater American concessions. Europeans and Asians alike rejected overwhelmingly Washington’s fears of Soviet expansionism in Asia, a region where U.S. policies remained largely unilateral.

Conclusion Washington’s repeated responses to danger demanded human and material resources of sufficient magnitude to create the National Security State. Fighting the Cold War at a cost of $50 billion a year had become, by 1952, the dominant business of government, commanding much of the nation’s energy, substance, and talent. State and Defense, the CIA, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, developed powerful bureaucratic interests in the existence of a Soviet threat. National insecurities conferred huge appropriations and influence on these agencies and their officials. So pervasive was the Cold War in national affairs that it required no less than a bipartisan establishment, as well as a broad intellectual milieu, in which policy-makers of different ideological, political, and emotional hues could work together in reasonable agreement. Outside government were the arms manufacturers, writers, scholars, and politicians for whom the Cold War offered purpose, security, satisfaction, and often superb remuneration.56 Many of the new national security managers were international bankers and their lawyers, people who could associate easily with the political and business elite of Europe. The New York Council on Foreign Relations gave them a social and intellectual identity, fostered their conservative views of international affairs, and propelled them into positions of leadership in Washington where they found policies sufficiently congenial to enter the country’s Cold War elite.57 That elite succeeded in building and sustaining a powerful consensus, with the American people prepared to underwrite the

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hundreds of billions—eventually trillions of dollars—required to maintain the military levels that the perceptions of danger seemed to require. Not without reason, President Truman left office in January 1953, firm in the conviction that the future was leaning more in the West’s favor and not to the Communist world.58

Notes 1. For a contemporary reaction to these events see Walter Taplin, “The Next Stage in Foreign Policy,” The Listener 43 (March 9, 1950): 411– 412; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1949 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1955), 489. 3. Report Prepared for the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch by the Committee on the National Security Organization (Washington, DC: GPO, 1949), 3, 49. 4. The New York Times, January 16, 1949, 13. 5. John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 92–93. 6. Carl Vinson, speech in the House of Representatives, April 4, 1950, in Cong. Record, 1950, Vol. 96, Pt 4, 4681–4683. 7. Thomas H. Etzold and John Lewis Gaddis, Containment: Documents on American Policy and Strategy, 1945–1950 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978), 366–368. 8. For a detailed account of the nuclear bomb decision see Joseph M. Siracusa, Into the Dark House: American Diplomacy and the Ideological Origins of the Cold War (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 1998), 57–89. 9. Ibid., 373; Harry S. Truman, Memoirs, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955), II:309–11; David Alan Rosenberg, “American Atomic Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision,” Journal of American History 66 (June 1979): 62, 85–87. 10. Kennan’s long memorandum against the hydrogen bomb, January 20, 1950, Etzold and Gaddis, Containment, 374–381. Kennan regarded this document perhaps the most important of his public career, Kennan, Memoirs, 1925–1950 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967), 472. For Acheson’s

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11.

12.

13.

14. 15.

16.

17. 18. 19. 20.

outspoken rejection, see David S. McLellan, Dean Acheson: The State Department Years (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1976), 176–177. For Truman’s announcement on the nuclear bomb program, see Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1950 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1965), 138. NSC 68, A Report to the National Security Council, “United States Objectives and Programs for National Security,” April 14, 1950, p. 3, President’s Secretary’s File (PSF), Papers of Harry S. Truman, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, Missouri (Hereafter cited as NSC 68). Also see, Harry S. Truman, The Memoirs of Harry S. Truman: Years of Trial and Hope 1946–1953, 2 vols. (New York: Doubleday, 1956), II: 326; “Report by the Special Committee of the National Security Council to the President,” January 31, 1950, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: 1950 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1977), 513– 523, hereafter cited as FRUS; David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy, 1939–1956 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994), 196–223. Parts of this chapter have been adapted from Joseph M. Siracusa, Into the Dark House: American Diplomacy & the Ideological Origins of the Cold War (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 1998). The “Terms of the Reference” were framed by Nitze. Interview with Paul H. Nitze, Center for National Security Research, Arlington, Virginia, April 29, 1977. Also see, “Memorandum by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Nitze) to the Secretary of State,” January 17, 1950, FRUS: 1950, I: 13–17. NSC 68/1. Minutes of the 55th Meeting of the National Security Council, PSF, Papers of Harry S. Truman, Truman Library. The President to the Secretary of State, January 31, 1950, S. Nelson Drew, ed., NSC-68: Forging the Strategy of Containment (Washington, DC: National Defense University, 1994), 33; and Joseph M. Siracusa, “NSC 68: A Reappraisal,” Naval War College Review 33:6 (1980): 4–14. For Nitze’s views see ibid., 7–16; Nitze, “Recent Soviet Moves” (Secret study dated February 8, 1950), FRUS, 1950, I: 145–146; Nitze in the “Report of State-Defense Review Group Meeting, February 27, 1950,” ibid., 171; and Joseph M. Siracusa, “Paul H. Nitze, NSC 68, and the Soviet Union,” in Essays in Twentieth-Century American Diplomatic History Dedicated to Professor Daniel M. Smith, C. O. Egan, ed. (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1982), 192–210. NSC 68 in Etzold and Gaddis, Containment, 385–387. Ibid., 413. Ibid., 391, 402. Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation: My Years in the State Department (New York: Norton, 1969), 451, 488.

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21. Charles E. Bohlen, “Memorandum to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Nitze),” April 5, 1950, FRUS, 1950, I: 224. 22. Drew, NSC 68, 56–57. 23. Ibid. 24. NSC 68, Etzold and Gaddis, Containment, 422–423, 429. 25. Acheson’s press conference on February 8, 1950, Department of State Bulletin 22 (February 20, 1950). Coral Bell analyzed the concept of negotiating from strength in her book, Negotiation from Strength: A Study in the Politics of Power (New York: Knopf, 1963). 26. Moscow statement in Anders Stephanson, Kennan and the Art of Foreign Policy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 107–108; Acheson’s Washington address in Department of State, Strengthening the Forces of Freedom (Washington, DC: GPO, 1950), 1. 27. Acheson in The New York Times, November 30, 1950; Truman’s statement in Public Papers of the Presidents: Harry S. Truman, 1950 (Washington, 1965), 725. 28. Minutes, Truman-Attlee meeting, December 7, 1950, FRUS, 1950, VII: 1456. 29. Quoted in Norman A. Graebner, Cold War Diplomacy: American Foreign Policy, 1945–1975 (New York: Van Nostrand, 1977), 52. 30. FRUS, 1950, VII: 1300, 1243, 1776. 31. The New York Times, December 15, 1950, 10. 32. FRUS, 1950, VII: 477–478. 33. Associated Press in The New York Times, December 19, 1950, 20. 34. Ibid., December 25, 1950, 5. 35. FRUS, 1950, VII: 1631. 36. Rusk’s address before a regional conference on American foreign policy, sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, on February 9, 1951, Department of State Bulletin 24 (February 19, 1951): 295. 37. “Ourselves and America,” The New Statesman and Nation 40 (December 16, 1950): 616. 38. “America and the Resurgence of Asia,” The Manchester Guardian Weekly 64 (February 1, 1951), 1. For an Asian view of recognition see Tillman Durdin, “Southeast Asia Divided,” The New York Times, November 26, 1950. 39. “The Crazy Path to War,” The New Statesman and Nation 41 (January 1, 1951), l; The Economist 159 (December 2, 1950): 925; “Bull in China,” ibid., 160 (February 3, 1951): 261–262. 40. For NSC 68/2, September 30, 1950, see Drew, NSC-68, 111–112. 41. NSC-68/4, December 14, 1950, ibid., 120–127. 42. Herbert Hoover, Radio and Television Address to the American People, The New York Times, December 21, 1950. For Taft see Gaddis, Strategies of Containment, 119–120.

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43. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). World Wide Web: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ ws/?pid=13683. 44. The New York Times, December 13, 1950. 45. The New York Times, January 9, 1951. 46. For a brief survey of U.S. efforts to bring West Germany into NATO, see Lawrence S. Kaplan, “The United States and the Atlantic Alliance: The First Generation,” in John Braeman, Robert H. Bremner, and David Brody, eds., Twentieth-Century American Foreign Policy (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1971), 317–321. 47. William Pfaff, Barbarian Sentiments: How the American Century Ends (New York: Hill & Wang, 1989), 12; “Basic Issues Raised by Draft NSC ‘Reappraisal of U.S. Objectives and Strategy for National Security,” n.d., FRUS, 1952–1954, II: 64–65. See also Acheson to McCloy, April 12, 1951, ibid., 7, 206. 48. Leffler, A Preponderance of Power, 488–492. 49. For a major contemporary analysis of the nature of the Soviet threat see Hans J. Morgenthau, “The Real Issue Between Russia and the United States,” The University of Chicago Magazine (April 1951): 5–8, 25. 50. Louis J. Halle, The Cold War as History (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), 416–417. 51. Quoted in Edward Crankshaw, “China and Russia,” The Atlantic Monthly (June 1956): 27. 52. Edward Crankshaw, “The Kremlin Retools Its Foreign Policy,” The New York Times Magazine (July 15, 1951): 5, 29. 53. For a critique of anti-Communism as a guide to policy see The New York Times Magazine (December 6, 1970): 161. 54. Geir Lundestad, The American “Empire” and Other Studies of U.S. Foreign Policy in a Comparative Perspective (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 37. 55. See Frank Costigliola, France and the United States: The Cold War Alliance Since World War II (New York: Twayne, 1992). 56. Schlesinger in Diplomatic History 16 (Spring 1992): 49; Ernest R. May in ibid., 270. 57. Richard J. Barnet, Roots of War (New York: Atheneum, 1972), 18–19, 57; Bernard Brodie, War and Politics (New York: Macmillan, 1973), 359– 360. 58. Public Papers of the Presidents, Truman, 1952–53, 1201.

CHAPTER 5

Eisenhower and Emboldening the Nuclear Option

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s accession to the presidency in January 1953 confirmed the American Cold War consensus. Through six years of continuous conflict with the U.S.S.R., the nation’s Cold War elite had effectively conditioned the country’s citizenry to acclaim any anti-Soviet maneuver emanating from Washington. Still, under the Truman leadership containment had emerged as a highly conservative program designed to sustain, not undo, the world that the power revolution of the previous decade had created. The administration had long accepted the reality of a divided Europe. Within the national consensus was also broad support for national efforts to prevent any Soviet expansion into Western Europe or regions of Asia regarded vulnerable to Communist exploitation. To meet this yet still-elusive Soviet challenge, Americans overwhelmingly sustained the national commitment to NATO and the anti-Communist elements in China, Indochina, and Korea. With the Korean War, moreover, they underwrote the massive rebuilding of the nation’s armed forces.1 What rendered the evolving containment policies of the Truman administration vulnerable to political assault was the absence of a precise strategy for victory. It was left for John Foster Dulles, noted Republican spokesman on foreign affairs, to challenge the Truman administration’s refusal to contest the Kremlin’s continuing dominance of the captive states. Dulles was the grandson of John Watson Foster, Benjamin © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_5

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Harrison’s secretary of state, and the nephew of Robert Lansing, secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson. He had been secretary to the Chinese delegation at The Hague Peace Conference of 1907, and adviser to the American delegation at Versailles in 1919. He had served as special assistant in Truman’s State Department and had lauded the Democratic administration for its foreign policy achievements. Detecting the possibilities of a Republican victory in 1952, however, he resigned his State Department post in March and immediately assumed command of the Republican crusade against the conservatism in Truman’s containment policies.2

The Determination for “Boldness” On May 19, 1952, Life magazine, published Dulles’s article, “A Policy of Boldness,” which condemned the Truman–Acheson concept of limited power and added a new, ambitious element to the Republican program. The country’s external policies, Dulles charged, were too far-flung, extravagant, and expensive. They were not designed to win the Cold War but rather to live with peril, “presumably forever.” Clearly the free nations required a better choice than that of “murder from without or suicide from within.” But Dulles had discovered an alternative that would stop aggression even as it reduced the danger of war. “There is one solution and only one,” he argued; “that is for the free world to develop the will to organize the means to retaliate instantly against open aggression by Red armies, so that if it occurred anywhere, we could and would strike back where it hurts, by means of our own choosing.” Dulles promised more. The free world, he believed, could turn to the political offensive by developing a dynamic foreign policy based on moral principles. Today, Dulles charged, the captive nations “live close to despair because the United States, the historic leader of the forces of freedom, seems dedicated to the negative policy of containment and stalemate.” American policy, he continued, should no longer sponsor the Iron Curtain through containment but seek the “liberation” of those who lived under compulsion, making “it publicly known that it wants and expects liberation to occur.”3 Early in July, Dulles embodied his views in the Republican platform. He termed Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam scenes of “tragic blunders” which abandoned the friendly peoples of Eastern Europe to Communist aggression. He promised a program that would “mark the end of the negative, futile and immoral policy of ‘containment’ which abandons countless human beings to a despotism and Godless terrorism which in turn enables

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the rulers to forge the captives into a weapon for our destruction.” Under Republican direction, the United States would “become again the dynamic, moral and spiritual force which was the despair of despots and the hope of the oppressed.”4 Finally, Dulles promised that the new Republican administration would achieve its purposes under the goal of a “balanced budget, a reduced national debt, an economical administration and a cut in taxes.” Eisenhower proclaimed his adherence to liberation on August 25 before the American Legion convention: “We can never rest—and we must so inform all the world…that until the enslaved nations…have in the fullness of freedom the right to chose their own path, that then, and then only, can we say that there is a possible way of living peacefully and permanently with Communism in the world.”5 For Dulles as well, liberation would create the essential conditions for world peace. “The only way to stop a head-on collision with the Soviet Union,” he warned in late August, “is to break it up from within.”6 Recalling the Truman administration’s refusal to challenge the Kremlin’s control of Eastern Europe, European writers feared that Eisenhower was inviting acrimony with Moscow. Paris’s Ce Soir accused him of inaugurating a needless crusade against the Soviet Union. For Britain’s Manchester Guardian, the Republican goal of liberation simply presaged war. The London Daily Mirror, wondering what Eisenhower had in mind, asked Republican leaders to “consider the effects of their oratory beyond the American borders.”7 Other European critics noted that Eisenhower’s aggressive approach to the U.S.S.R. was notably lacking in means. The Economist (London) observed on August 30, 1952: “Unhappily ‘liberation’ applied to Eastern Europe… means either the risk of war or it means nothing…. ‘Liberation’ entails no risk of war only when it means nothing.”8 The Economist’s Washington correspondent concluded that Republican declarations on liberation were fundamentally a quest for minority votes and so divorced from policy that Eisenhower and Dulles would do well to drop the subject. Unless Republican leaders intended to give armed support to the peoples of Eastern Europe, Truman declared at Parkersburg, West Virginia, they were deceiving their fellow citizens and “playing cruel, gutter politics with the lives of countless good men and women behind the Iron Curtain.”9 Republican editors, however, assured Europeans and Americans alike that Eisenhower contemplated peaceful liberation, largely through psychological warfare. An Eisenhower administration, Dulles averred, would never encourage a premature revolt. “There are countless peaceful ways,” he added, “by which the task of

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the Russian despots can be made so unbearably difficult that they will renounce their rule. That was shown in Yugoslavia.”10 At the Senate committee hearings on his appointment as secretary of state on January 15, 1953, the committee chairman inquired of Dulles what his new, dynamic policies of liberation entailed. Dulles assured the Senators: [W]e shall never have a secure peace or a happy world so long as Soviet Communism dominates one-third of all the peoples that there are…. These people who are enslaved are people who deserve to be free…and ought to be free because if they are the servile instruments of aggressive despotism, they will eventually be welded into a force which will be highly dangerous to ourselves and to all the free world. Therefore, we must always have in mind the liberation of these captive peoples…. It must be and can be a peaceful process, but those who do not believe that results can be achieved by moral pressures by the weight of propaganda, just do not know what they are talking about.11

President Eisenhower, in his first State of the Union message of February 2, 1953, promised that his administration would never acquiesce in the enslavement of captive peoples. To that end he repudiated the Yalta and Potsdam agreements which, Republican critics insisted, had brought Soviet dominance to millions of Europeans. He would ask Congress to join in “an appropriate resolution making clear that this Government recognizes no kind of commitments contained in secret accords which condoned enslavement.”12 Pro-liberation columnist David Lawrence rejoiced that a congressional resolution would now enable the new president to bring freedom to the peoples of Eastern Europe. Freda Kirchwey retorted in The Nation that Eisenhower could achieve no more in Eastern Europe than had Truman.13 On February 26, Dulles explained the resolution before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The aim,” he stated, “is to make totally clear the integrity of this Nation’s purpose in relation to the millions of enslaved peoples in Europe and Asia.”14 The proposed resolution, however, condemned Soviet behavior rather than President Roosevelt’s alleged sell-out at Yalta; Senate Republicans rejected it even as they demanded that the administration fulfill its promises to the captive peoples.15 Dulles reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to liberation when he addressed the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April. Unless the United States assured the “captive peoples” that it did not accept

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their captivity, he warned, it “would unwittingly have become partners to the forging of a hostile power so vast that it could encompass our destruction.”16 As such, only the reduction of the Soviet presence in Eastern Europe would sustain the established lines of demarcation. Dulles never explained how psychological warfare would achieve the peaceful withdrawal of Soviet military power from Eastern Europe. Eisenhower’s Washington accepted the existence of a massive Soviet threat, one based on impressive conventional and atomic preparedness and control of the international Communist apparatus with its alleged power to penetrate, divide, and weaken the free world. At the same time, the administration’s ubiquitous demands for Soviet capitulation to American principles, calling for compliance without compensation or even serious negotiations, seemed to deny that the U.S.S.R. was a problem at all. Washington officials no longer anticipated war with the U.S.S.R. in the immediate future, perhaps never. The president, moreover, backed by Secretary of the Treasury George M. Humphrey, was determined to fulfill the campaign pledge of reduced taxes and balanced budgets. As early as February 1953, he announced his intention of tailoring military power to fiscal requirements. “Our problem,” he said, “is to achieve military strength within the limits of endurable strain on our economy.” In March, the president responded to a request of the service chiefs for additional appropriations by wondering “whether national bankruptcy or national destruction would get us first.”17 In his Defense Reorganization message of April 30, he announced major changes in defense policy “which would continue to give primary consideration to the external threat but would no longer ignore the internal threat.”18 After three months of study, the administration, in late April, recommended budget reductions of $8 billion for fiscal year 1954, to create a situation of “maximum military strength within economic capacities.”19 In late April, the president approved NSC 149/1 that provided for a review of the size and structure of the military. During subsequent weeks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) agreed that the country was overextended and lacked the manpower to maintain its global defenses. To avoid abandoning Europe and other strategic areas, Arthur W. Radford, Chairman of the JCS, recommended that the United States place greater reliance on its growing nuclear arsenal.20 Eisenhower added another dimension to the emphasis on nuclear weapons, and the expanding retaliatory striking force, when he observed that the challenge to strategy lay in deterring, not winning, a war with the Soviet Union. But he noted in a

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memorandum to Dulles, on September 8, that hydrogen weapons could serve as a deterrent only if the United States was prepared to initiate a nuclear war.21 In early October, the president endorsed NSC 162 with its emphasis on nuclear strategy, but acknowledged again “nothing would so upset the whole world as an announcement…of a decision to use these weapons.” At an NSC meeting on October 13 Dulles suggested that the State and Defense departments define the areas where the United States could reasonably use nuclear weapons to cut defense costs. At the end of October, the New Look assumed final form in NSC 162/2; nuclear weapons and the effective means for their delivery had become the foundation of national strategy.22 Dulles soon elevated the military New Look into a broad strategic concept. In his address of January 12, 1954, to the New York Council on Foreign Relations, he emphasized the “deterrent of massive retaliatory power” to supplement the earlier reliance on conventional ground forces. The United States, he warned, would now “depend primarily upon a great capacity to retaliate, instantly, by means and places of our own choosing.” The new strategy would eliminate future Koreas, because no government would engage in aggression knowing that its urban centers might be reduced to rubble. But Dulles promised more. “If we persist in the courses I outline,” he said, “we shall confront dictatorship with a task that is, in the long run, beyond its strength…. If the dictators persist in their present course, then it is they who will be limited to superficial successes, while their foundations crumble under the tread of their iron boots….”23 Dulles’s new doctrine gave his critics a field day. Military analyst Hanson W. Baldwin charged the administration with “putting a price tag on national security.” To military writers everywhere, the concentration on nuclear weapons narrowed the freedom of choice to inaction or the mushroom cloud. Matthew B. Ridgway, Army Chief of Staff, reminded the administration that future wars would involve conventional, not nuclear, power, and that the reductions in force levels would prevent the country from meeting its overseas commitments.24 Dulles replied to his critics in the April 1954 issue of Foreign Affairs. “The essential thing,” he wrote, “is that a potential aggressor should know in advance that he can and will be made to suffer for his aggression more than he can possibly gain by it.” Dulles denied that the capacity to retaliate instantly imposed the necessity of unleashing nuclear power in every instance of attack and concluded, “it is not our intention to turn every local war into a general war.”25

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Treasury Secretary Humphrey insisted that the United States had no business getting into little wars. “If a situation comes up where our interests justify intervention,” he said, “let’s intervene decisively with all we have got or stay out.” For some, the new threat of massive retaliation restored the strategic initiative to the United States and assured victory in any future contest outside Europe without the commitment of ground forces. “The doctrine is a departure from the policy of ‘containment’ which we have heretofore followed in recent years,” observed Senator William Knowland in March 1954. “It is clear, therefore, that this Administration intends to change our defense emphasis to a point where we are no longer dependent on merely reacting to Soviet initiative within limits planned and desired by the Kremlin.”26

Consolidating Preponderance For Americans overwhelmingly, the country’s world role in the 1950s had been satisfactory, even laudable. Despite eight years of perennial tension, the nation had avoided war. Behind the underlying stability had been the outpouring of American dollars to underwrite the country’s massive defense establishment as well as the West’s unprecedented prosperity. By combining his administration’s rhetoric of inflexible anti-communism, especially in Asia, with his own image of moderation, Eisenhower bridged the nation’s foreign policy spectrum with remarkable success. If the proclaimed objectives often defied the creation of policy, they reassured their supporters everywhere that the United States would defend them against any Communist-led aggression. At home, the promises of liberation built a powerful consensus, broad enough to encompass the entire Republican Party as well as most Democrats. The voices of criticism were scarcely audible. Not all congressional Democrats accepted the Eisenhower policies, but even those who objected could never mount an effective assault on official assumptions and objectives.27 Much of the media refused to question the administration’s rhetorical pursuit of the unachievable. This permitted the president to reap untold political advantage from the verbal assurances of liberation, even when the promises themselves remained unfulfilled. The government’s power to dispose of its critics with such apparent ease was simply a measure of the overwhelming consensus that its purely anti-Communist objectives enjoyed. Eisenhower seemed to lose his consensus on one issue: the so-called “missile gap.” In launching Sputnik I in October 1957, the Soviets

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appeared to be light years ahead of the United States in missile development. The secret November 1957 Gaither Commission Report claimed the Soviets were far ahead of the United States in the development and deployment of strategic nuclear forces, raising the critical question of whether the country would soon become vulnerable to long-range missile attack against which it could not retaliate—and thus not deter. Largely shaped by Paul Nitze, the Report argued that the Soviet Union would likely have a dozen ICBMs operational within a year, while it would take the United States two or three years to catch up—thereby creating a “missile gap.” The notion of a missile gap was further encouraged by subsequent inflated intelligence estimates and the U.S. Air Force’s prediction that the Soviets would have up to 500 operational ICBMs by 1961. As parts of the report leaked to the press, the so-called gap grew. Columnist Joseph Alsop predicted in 1958 that the U.S.S.R. would soon possess one hundred intercontinental ballistic missiles to none for the United States; by 1963, he added, the Soviets would have an advantage of two thousand to 130.28 Such assertions of national weakness subjected Eisenhower’s apparently moderate defense policies to intense scrutiny in Congress and the press. Democratic advocates of a stronger defense, led by Senators Henry Jackson and Lyndon Johnson, warned the country against the proclaimed missile gap. Eisenhower argued, for good reason, that both the country’s defense structure and its military budgets were adequate. The United States already possessed hundreds of bombers and dozens of intercontinental and intermediate-range missiles, positioned in the United States and Europe, and capable of launching nuclear weapons. Between 1958 and 1960 the nuclear weapons stockpile had tripled in size, from apparently 6000 to 18,000 warheads. Eisenhower was shocked by this level of overkill.29 Conscious of his failure to control the nation’s defense establishment, he devoted key passages of his famed farewell address, of January 1961, to a warning against the power and ambitions of the so-called military-industrial complex.30 Unfortunately, he penciled out reference in his initial draft to a “military-industrial-legislative” complex.

The Credibility Gap The nuclear umbrellas extended by the Eisenhower administration were effective only so long as they were credible. By the mid-1950s, that credibility was seriously in question. From the moment of inception, doubts

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built up about massive retaliation. The administration’s apparent faith in an all-or-nothing approach to security inevitably raised the issue of bluffing. And it was not only America’s adversaries that harbored doubts; the NATO allies became increasingly skeptical. “If it becomes a question of the atomic bomb and all-out war, or nothing, it may be, too often, nothing,” warned Lester Pearson, the Canadian Foreign Minister to Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent.31 British Labour MP, Denis Healey, pointed out that it would be understandable if the Americans responded with “nothing.” “If, in 1951, Europeans were prepared to abandon South Korea rather than themselves risk being occupied by the Red Army,” he asked, “how can we take it for granted in, say 1961, that Americans would prefer to see Europe occupied by the Red Army rather than themselves risk thermonuclear annihilation?”32 It was a variation on a theme increasingly heard throughout the West and within the United States itself. Even Eisenhower himself, his presidency in the early stages of socalled “second-term-it is” on a number of fronts, conceded by 1957 that “the concept of deterrent power has gone as far as it can. In view of this incredible situation, we must have more fresh thinking on how to conduct ourselves.”33 Consciously adopting a position of calculated ambiguity invited skepticism—from enemies and friends—at the same time as denying the means to dispel that skepticism. It rested on an expression of political resolve. Would the United States really risk the threat of its own destruction to protect, say, West Berlin, Paris, or some tiny, largely uninhabited islands off the coast of Taiwan? The deterrent effect of massive retaliation rested squarely on the premise that the leaders in Moscow and Beijing were uncertain enough of the answer to believe that they just might. Khrushchev frequently voiced his doubts. But not even John Foster Dulles was prepared to offer a definitive statement—one way or the other. The Eisenhower administration was never able to shake the twin criticisms that it was putting a price tag on national security and that it was stubbornly sticking to an overly rigid faith in massive retaliation. Dulles’s new association with brinkmanship was easily latched onto by critics at home and abroad as dogmatic, reckless, and out of step with military and political realities. It revealed the administration’s “habit of putting salesmanship ahead of statesmanship,” charged one senator.34 During the course of the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration gradually backed away from its reliance on the retaliatory threat to deter threats to its national interests.

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Several elements conspired to force this new look at the New Look. Again, the pressures for change to the strategic doctrine came not from any new breakthrough in the theory of deterrence, but rather from more mundane pressures. The Soviets were rapidly developing their own atomic strike force. The European allies of NATO were adding pressure. Elements within the administration were arguing for change. And the dynamics of military politics were changing, as the Army tried to reassert itself on American national security policy. By the late 1950s, these threads were intertwined, and massive retaliation had been watered down and qualified to the point that there was little resistance when a new strategic concept, “flexible response,” was put in its place by the administration of John F. Kennedy.

Soviet Technological Breakthroughs The first challenge was technological. The arms race that many had predicted had become a reality. On October 3, 1952, Great Britain formally entered the nuclear club when it detonated its first atomic device on an island off the coast of Australia. Only weeks later, on October 31, the United States detonated its first thermonuclear weapon and less than a year later, on August 12, 1953, the Soviet Union successfully detonated its first thermonuclear device. The accelerating pace of technological breakthroughs made it clear that the strategic balance was in a state of flux, which in turn affected thinking about deterrence. The core concept was that the vulnerability of U.S. and NATO forces was increasing. This realization was accompanied by a notable sense of alarm. Although the Soviets had successfully tested their first atomic device as early as 1949, thoughtful observers recognized that one successful test did not make a deployable arsenal. In late August 1953, Soviet scientists shocked the West once again. Less than two weeks after a U.S. intelligence assessment estimated that Soviet scientists were unlikely to master nuclear fusion for at least another year, Soviet premier Georgi Malenkov announced that the “the United States has no monopoly on the production of the hydrogen bomb.” Western officials met his announcement with public skepticism.35 Dulles told reporters on August 12 that there was no evidence to support Malenkov’s claim and he was personally doubtful that it was true.36 That very day, the Soviets detonated their first thermonuclear device. Pravda announced the explosion on August 20.37 Western intelligence analysts

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determined that the device was not a true hydrogen bomb and it was not in a weaponized form. Neither finding offered much solace. Even as Admiral Radford and President Eisenhower tried to play down the development in public, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Lewis Strauss, immediately grasped the significance of the development for U.S. security policy. Even though the United States remained well ahead of the Soviets in science and production, he said, the U.S. atomic and nuclear arsenals no longer constituted “a complete deterrent to aggressive action.”38 That became a recurring theme for the remainder of the decade. The American claim to thermonuclear supremacy was finished. In private, Eisenhower’s reaction was more serious, pushing him to contemplate extreme measures. In early September, he asked Dulles to look into one such measure: preventive war. He tasked Dulles “to consider whether or not our duty to future generations did not require us to initiate war at the most propitious moment that we could designate.”39 A few weeks later, on September 24, he raised the prospect at a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC). The weight of the evidence suggests that Eisenhower never seriously entertained the prospect that he would order a preventive atomic strike against the Soviet Union—and he later formally ruled it out—but these inquiries at the top of the American national security establishment were symptomatic of the uncertainty caused by the dramatic pace of Soviet technological development. The Soviet H-bomb also acted as a catalyst for a fundamental reevaluation of the equation of Soviet capabilities and intentions. Nuclear parity, although not yet an absolute reality, appeared imminent, a fact that was soon reflected in official government policy. The NSC’s basic National Security Policy paper prepared at the end of the 1954 acknowledged for the first time that the strategic equation had developed to a point of “mutual deterrence.” The outbreak of general nuclear war, the paper said, would bring about such extreme destruction as to threaten the survival of both Western civilization and the Soviet system. This situation could create a condition of mutual deterrence in which each side would be strongly inhibited from deliberately initiating general war or taking actions which it regarded as materially increasing the risk of general war.40

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The balance of terror might at last become a reality. But now that it was here, few were inclined to accept that as an improvement. By 1955, Soviet scientists had largely overcome the initial four-year lag and, particularly in the field of thermonuclear weapons, were on par with the West. The Soviets still lagged far behind the United States in both quantity and quality of nuclear weapons, but the former’s strategic arsenal was more than adequate to inflict considerable damage on the West, and therefore to play its own deterrent role. For all practical purposes, the gap had been closed. As mentioned above, the Soviets’ second great leap forward was Sputnik. Any lingering faith in the doctrine of massive retaliation was decisively wiped away. Sputnik announced in dramatic fashion the arrival of the age of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Geography, that great protector of the North American continent, was effectively neutralized. As one observer put it, “Rockets collapsed space and time… Surprise attack from the air would always be possible, uncoupled from any specific crisis.”41 The next nuclear war might come without a moment’s notice. The Sputnik shot was prefaced by successful missile tests of a new kind of Soviet missile, the R-7. On the morning of August 21, 1957, the Soviets’ troubled ICBM program finally had a success when an R-7 missile was fired from the Soviet Union and impacted in the Pacific nearly 4,000 miles away. The Kremlin publicly announced the successful firing in Moscow on August 26, but again the claim was received with much suspicion in the West.42 When Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces used the same kind of rocket two months later to propel the world’s first artificial satellite into space, any doubts were unequivocally dispelled. Launched on October 4, 1957, the satellite, Sputnik, was in itself harmless, being little more than a basketball-sized nitrogen-filled aluminum sphere fitted with a rudimentary transmitter that emitted a distinctive “beep” every few seconds. For a little over three weeks, this “beep” reminded military radio operators and their amateur counterparts of the Soviet accomplishment. After about a hundred days the satellite fell from orbit and vaporized into the atmosphere. But the true power of Sputnik was not in its physical presence but in its symbolism. “Never before had so small and so harmless an object created such consternation,” observed Daniel J. Boorstin. It was, wrote another observer with only a hint of hyperbole, “the shock of the century.”43 Just as American nerves were returning to normal, the Soviets followed up with Sputnik II, larger than its predecessor and this one carrying life—a dog named Laika.

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For the people of the Soviet bloc, Sputnik was a source of great pride, a fact drummed home by the Soviet press. For the West, the suggestion that Soviet missile technology was ahead of the West’s was compelling and, for many, alarming, especially when contrasted with a spate of well-publicized American test failures.44 For many Americans, memories of Pearl Harbor came to mind. The sense of alarm was not without some foundation. For several years, the vulnerability of the continental United States had been an acknowledged problem. Just before leaving office in mid-January 1953, President Truman had signed an NSC finding that warned that the government’s ability to defend the continent from atomic attack was “extremely limited.”45 The existing defenses constituted a piecemeal response to the problem. The vulnerability was a product of several factors, including the vestiges of the postwar demobilization, emphasis on forward defense strategies, and a traditional American expectation of invulnerability offered by geography. All of these had conspired to render continental defense less urgent in the range of military priorities. The new warning systems spanning the northern reaches of North America, established in collaboration with Canada, were designed to offer warning of incoming Soviet bombers, but coverage was patchy, systems untested, and lines of communication unclear.46 Even sixty years later, tracking the four hijacked commercial airliners on September 11, 2001, exposed some disconcerting shortcomings in the capabilities of the sophisticated networks of military and civilian warning systems.47 An incoming ICBM traveling in excess of 3,000 miles per hour offered a challenge exponentially more difficult. Ignorant of the technicalities, the American public were nevertheless all too aware of the general problem. In a poll completed just days before Malenkov announced the end of the American monopoly on the hydrogen bomb, George Gallup reported that, according to his polling, only one in six Americans thought that the Soviets would be able to “knock out” the United States with a massive surprise attack with atomic weapons.48 After Sputnik, those ratios had reversed.

Civilian Strategists As nuclear weapons increasingly became a central part of international affairs and as nuclear war became an all-too-real prospect, public concern with nuclear policy increased. For the first decade of the nuclear age, the

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American public—along with the British, French, and much of the rest of the Western alliance—had for the most part treated nuclear policy as “something best left to the experts,” but by the end of the 1950s nuclear strategy had become a topic of public debate led by a cadre of increasingly visible professional strategists. Soon, civilians associated with think tanks such as the RAND Corporation, began to assume a new place in the U.S. military hierarchy as professional strategists and, in turn, active in the public imagination. Atomic scientists like Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, and Werner von Braun had all become national figures through their contributions to the technology of the nuclear age and later through their vocal political engagement in the abolitionist debate.49 By the late 1950s civilian professional strategists like Bernard Brodie, William Kaufmann, Henry Kissinger, Albert Wohlstetter, and Herman Kahn became almost as famous for their theorizing about how to use the technology, as the scientists that had developed them. Although their fame most often came in the form of notoriety for their ability to discuss the absurdity of nuclear war in cold, calculating terms, they were nevertheless crucial for fueling the public debate. In the absence of hard evidence concerning Soviet decision-making, these strategists were forced to form judgments about nuclear war without having any experience to draw on; thus, they substituted deductive hypotheses derived from the fields of political science, psychology, mathematics, and economics for inductive historical experience.50 Dulles’s speech to the Council of Foreign Relations in January 1954 was interpreted by many of these civilian strategists as an opening to join the public debate. Yale professor and sometime RAND consultant, William Kaufman, became one of the earliest of these civilian strategists to offer a sophisticated and rational critique of massive retaliation. His core contention was that the Eisenhower–Dulles doctrine of massive retaliation failed to account for the growth in Soviet capabilities. Threatening massive retaliation had made some sense when the United States held a monopoly on atomic and thermonuclear weapons, he argued, but made no sense in an era when the Soviets could retaliate in kind. Massive retaliation would no longer be a one-way street. Whether that counter strike would be decisive became largely irrelevant; the United States would be made to suffer considerably. “We must face the fact that, if we are challenged to fulfill the threat of massive retaliation, we will be likely to suffer costs as great as those we inflict,” he warned.51

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Kaufmann further argued that the Dulles plan for deterrence rested on assumptions about the adversary that were questionable at best and flawed at worst. He identified three main ones: firstly, that worldwide communism was controlled from Moscow and Beijing; secondly, that Soviet and Chinese leaders shared the same “cost-risk calculations” roughly comparable with those of Western leaders; and thirdly—and derivative of the first two assumptions—“that action on the periphery of the communist empire can be forestalled by forecasting to the enemy the costs and risks that he will run—provided always that the costs and risks of sufficient magnitude to outweigh the prospective gains.”52 Kaufmann conceded that there remained a place for massive retaliation, but that that place was a relatively narrow range of contingencies. Too great a burden had been placed on the threat to respond with nuclear weapons, and the result was that the strategy was overextended and dangerously fragile.53 Moreover, nuclear stalemate might actually invite the adversary to resort to local action with conventional weapons, he warned.54 The fragility of the American nuclear strike force was something emphasized by another prominent civilian strategist, Albert Wohlstetter, a theoretical mathematician by training who joined the economics division of RAND in 1951 as a consultant.55 During the early 1950s, building on work begun by Bernard Brodie, Wohlstetter studied the basing system of Strategic Air Command (SAC) and concluded not only that it was illsuited to the new strategic environment, but also that SAC forces were dangerously vulnerable to Soviet attack. Up to 85 percent of SAC’s overseas bomber force could be destroyed, while they sat on their bases, by a relatively small number of Soviet bombs.56 In 1959, Wohlstetter expanded upon this theme in a highly influential article in Foreign Affairs titled “The Delicate Balance of Terror.” Published in the wake of the Sputnik shots, the article’s central premise was that the vulnerability of American nuclear weapons to being destroyed or neutralized in the event of a Soviet first strike led to a precarious peace and, in fact, invited just such a strike.57 Countering the claims by some contemporary commentators that the solution lay in any single path, such as increases in the quantities or even this or that kind of new missile, Wohlstetter emphasized the complexity of the deterrence process. Although not entirely hopeful that the United States would be able to deter the Soviets from strategic war, he believed that “Deterrence in the 1960s is neither assured nor impossible but will be the product of sustained intelligence effort and hard choices, responsibly made.”58

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Wohlstetter stated his prescription simply: “To deter an attack means being able to strike back in spite of it.”59 This deceptively simple equation of a second strike capability would become the crux of a vigorous debate on assured destruction that would rage with varying intensity for the remainder of the Cold War.

Alliance Politics Placing an emphasis on atomic weapons had been pioneered by the British and largely accepted, to the extent that they were consulted, by the other NATO allies. At the same time, U.S. military planners expected allies to take more responsibility for their own local defenses. The 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon had set a goal of nearly 100 divisions to be in place by 1954. By 1954, the objective had been scaled back to thirty divisions and, in reality, even those forces were not at full combat strength. Massive retaliation had served to cover a reduction in Washington’s military spending on conventional forces, but the Americans soon found the argument turned back on them, as the NATO allies picked up on the inherent contradiction between Washington’s insistence that more European conventional forces were needed and its professed faith in the deterrent power of its nuclear weapons. Why should Portugal, for instance, embark in a large and expensive conventional buildup when U.S. leaders were adamantly insisting that security lay in NATO’s nuclear guarantee? It was a conundrum that remained a frustration for U.S. administrations for decades. In this way, the arguments made in support of massive retaliation paradoxically undermined the very efforts to coax NATO allies to commit more of their resources to building up their conventional forces. By 1957, Washington was becoming more and more alarmed at the relative weakness of NATO’s conventional forces. There was no longer any pretense that NATO’s shield forces could mount anything like an effective defense of Western Europe for very long. General Lauris Norstad, Commander-in-Chief of NATO forces, offered a striking analogy: The talk about paring down the deterrent strategy reminds me of a game I used to play as a child, a game called “Castle of Sand.” We put a penny in a tumbler, packed the tumbler with damp sand, and turned it upside down over a plate. Lift the tumbler, and there was the “castle,” with the penny

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on top. Now we took a knife, and each of us in turn had to pare away some sand, without bringing down the penny. It was easy at first. You could make bold slashes at almost no risk at all. But it all soon became dangerous to pare even a few grains. And eventually, of course, somebody made the fatal cut. Down fell the castle, penny and all, and the loser paid a forfeit.60

NATO was still some way away from such catastrophe, but documents released from former Warsaw Pact archives in recent years suggest that Norstad was right to worry, although it is not clear that the scale of buildup he advocated would have held the line for long. The Soviets alone had more than 175 divisions and more than 4 million men under arms. Moreover, Warsaw Pact forces were armed with tactical nuclear weapons and always prepared to use them; the Pact’s war plans called for a blitzkrieg through Europe, along with the first use of tactical nuclear weapons.61 NATO’s shield would likely have been dismissed with short shrift. It was a problem that probably should have been foreseen—the Americans had made the argument themselves. When the British first proposed in the summer of 1952 to put more emphasis on long-range bombers over local conventional defenses, the idea had been rebuffed by the Truman administration suspicious that it was an attempt by Churchill to renege on commitments recently made at the Lisbon meeting of the North Atlantic Council. And Eisenhower himself had placed heavy emphasis on defense policy “that will keep our boys at our side instead of on a foreign shore,” as put forward during the presidential campaign.62 The former supreme commander of the Normandy invasion had become a consummate politician. The problem proved persistent. However much Washington might have wanted to withdraw or reduce its forces from Europe, the European allies had set the situation to ensure that they would in fact stay. “I feel that sometimes they place more burden on us than they’re entitled to,” Kennedy complained coyly to Eisenhower in September 1962. Eisenhower, who had just returned from a visit to Germany where he had met with German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, agreed.63 Designed ostensibly as a collective security measure, the shift to the massive retaliation doctrine dispelled any misconceptions any of the other participating parties might have had about collective decision-making. It was a recurring and serious complaint made especially vocally and frequently by London and Ottawa and other allies. In the August 1943

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Quebec agreement, the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada had agreed that none of the three would use the atomic bomb against third parties without each other’s consent. Almost five years later, the United States had reneged and forced through an agreement that revoked such a promise. Unilateral American threats to use the bomb in Korea, first by Truman and then by Eisenhower, had prompted outspoken concern. Alarmed at the prospect that Truman might use the bomb in Korea, Clement Attlee had rushed to Washington to talk the President out of it. Truman had promised in these talks, in December 1950, that he would keep Attlee informed, but was deliberately vague and would not commit the understanding to paper. Attlee returned to London apparently believing that the United Kingdom would be consulted on the bomb’s use; in fact, Washington intended no such thing. Even Winston Churchill, not known to be timid with nuclear bluster, expressed his outright opposition to the American use of atomic weapons against Beijing. As Eisenhower recalled the exchange, Churchill emphasized that Britain “was a small crowded island; one good nuclear bombing could destroy it, and recklessness might provoke such a catastrophe.”64 Churchill had extracted a promise out of Truman in January 1952 that the use by American bombers of British airfields for launching atomic strikes would be a matter of joint decision. For a policy launched very much with Indochina in mind, Washington’s lack of consultation with its allies engaged in South East Asia was striking. Thomas K. Finletter, Secretary of the Air Force in the Truman administration and later U.S. Ambassador to NATO, identified this as one of the key flaws in implementing the policy. “Politically, the warning of massive retaliation was weak, for it revealed the failure of the United States to arrange a solid front of the powerful Western countries most interested in the area,” he complained in his 1954 book Power and Policy.65

Conclusion Unfortunately, the Eisenhower consensus on matters of Eastern Europe and China was incompatible with the nation’s need to accept forthrightly what it could not escape. The avoidance of diplomatic accommodation resolved nothing. Eventually the country would consign liberation to the realm of lost causes, but until then it would achieve little in its negotiations with Moscow or Beijing. The administration’s verbal devotion to liberation was all that remained of its promise to create a more dynamic,

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successful foreign policy than that which it inherited from the Truman years. In refusing to deal with either Moscow or Beijing on the basis of interests and power, the administration neglected to exercise the limited options before it. Maurice Duverger reminded Washington in Le Monde, April 27, 1954, that it was defying the basic rules of traditional diplomacy: The entire diplomatic tradition of Europe rests on two unwritten principles: recognition of reality on the one hand, compromise on the other. If the devil himself should be installed at the head of a nation’s government, his neighbors could adopt only two attitudes: either try to destroy him by war or negotiate with him a modus vivendi. The first attitude is military; the second is diplomatic; there is no third…. One can almost define the diplomacy of the United States as principles opposed to those which have just been set forth: on the one hand, refusal to recognize disagreeable situations, on the other hand, a desire to obtain capitulation pure and simple.

Eisenhower faced no need to risk his powerful foreign policy consensus by modifying his uncompromising purposes in Europe or China. In both regions the United States confronted conditions that were essentially static. Southeast Asia, however, presented a situation that was dynamic, one whose resolution would require accommodation or war. Washington’s posture toward China turned out to be meaningless rather than dangerous, but the conviction that the Chinese antagonist shared in the underwriting of Communist expansionism in Southeast Asia, reinforced the American resolve to meet the challenge of Indochina with force. If Eisenhower escaped the necessity of war, his legacies surely assured trouble for those who would follow. In terms of the nuclear domain, by the early 1950s, once it was evident that the Soviet Union was deploying significant numbers of atomic bombs of their own, the approach of nuclear deterrence began to take definitive shape. While the United States never ruled out striking first, the difficulty of guaranteeing the destruction of every Soviet nuclear weapon necessitated a new strategy. As such, the Eisenhower administration proclaimed in 1954 that Soviet aggression anywhere in the world would be countered with massive retaliation, encompassing the unleashing of the U.S. nuclear arsenal against Soviet nuclear forces and urban and industrial targets.66 Until 1960, there was no coherent nuclear war plan. The Air Force, Navy, and Army, through their various commands, developed their own

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target maps and attack plans. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a considerable degree of redundancy, with the military dedicating more military capability than was actually required to destroy specific targets. Worse still, under the plans then in effect, one service’s weapons would have destroyed another’s in any nuclear conflict, limiting the damage to the intended Soviet targets. Discontented with this state of affairs, Eisenhower in 1960 ordered the creation of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff to develop an incorporated nuclear war plan.67 When the President took the pledge of office as the 34th president of the United States in 1953, the total U.S. nuclear stockpile was approaching 1,000. When he left the White House eight years later that number had expanded to around 20,000, with further increases planned.68

Notes 1. For an evaluation of the public opinion that underwrote the Cold War consensus see Ralph B. Levering, The Public and American Foreign Policy, 1918–1978 (New York: Morrow, 1978), 94–98. James R. Burnham of Georgetown University argued that the United States could not survive unless it destroyed Communist power. See Burnham, The Coming Defeat of Communism (New York: Day, 1950), 138; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Much has been written on Dulles’s background before becoming secretary of state in 1953. See, for example, Louis L. Gerson, John Foster Dulles (New York: Cooper Square, 1967), 9–97; John Robinson Beal, John Foster Dulles: A Biography (New York: Harper, 1957), 16–128; and Townsend Hoopes, The Devil and John Foster Dulles (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973), 17–133. 3. John Foster Dulles, “A Policy of Boldness,” Life (May 19, 1952): 146– 157. For Dulles’s views on America’s moral powers and obligations in external affairs see Henry Van Dusen, ed., The Spiritual Legacy of John Foster Dulles: Selections From His Articles and Addresses (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1960, 1972), passim. In many respects Dulles’s precepts coincided with those of Woodrow Wilson. In War and Peace (New York: Macmillan, 1950) Dulles expressed repeatedly his faith in moral force in a morally divided world. 4. U.S. News & World Report (July 18, 1952): 83–84.

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5. The New York Times, August 26, 1952, 12. For Eisenhower’s adoption of liberation see also Norman A. Graebner, The New Isolationism: A Study in Politics and Foreign Policy Since 1950 (New York: Ronald, 1956), 99–100. 6. Dulles quoted in The New York Times, August 27, 1952, 15. 7. The European press quoted in The New York Times, August 26, 1952, 12. See also ibid., August 27, 1952, 15. 8. The Economist (London) 164 (August 30, 1952): 503. 9. The Economist 164 (September 13, 1952): 623; Truman’s Parkersburg speech in The New York Times, September 23, 1952, 20. 10. The New York Times, September 4, 1952, 1, 20. One critic noted that Soviet armies did not occupy Yugoslavia and therefore Tito’s successful defiance of Stalin and the Cominform was no valid example of what peaceful liberation might achieve, ibid., September 5, 1952, 26. David Lawrence reminded his readers that liberation did not require force but rather the encouragement of the oppressed to free themselves. See U.S. News & World Report (September 12, 1952): 92. 11. Hearings before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-third Congress, First Session, on the Nomination of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State—Designate, January 15, 1953 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1953), 5–6. 12. State of the Union message, February 2, 1953, Department of State Bulletin 28 (February 9, 1953), 207–211. 13. David Lawrence in U.S. News & World Report (February 13, 1953): 100; Freda Kirchwey, “Where Are We Going?” The Nation 176 (February 21, 1953): 159–160. 14. See Department of State, American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1950–1955, 2 vols. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1957), II, 1958–1959; Dulles’s statement, February 26, 1953, ibid., 1959. 15. For the Senate’s reaction see Graebner, The New Isolationism, 147–148. 16. Dulles speech of April 18, 1953, Department of State Bulletin 28 (April 27, 1953): 606. 17. Graebner, The New Isolationism, 131; Memorandum of Discussion at the 138th Meeting of the National Security Council, Mar. 25, 1953, FRUS, 1952–1954, II, 260. 18. Graebner, The New Isolationism, 130–31; Eisenhower’s Defense Reorganization message, Apr. 30, 1953, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1960), 225–38; President’s meeting with congressional leaders, Apr. 30, 1953, FRUS, 1952–1954, II:317; Memorandum of Discussion at the 140th Meeting of the National Security Council, April 22, 1953, ibid., 297. 19. Robert H. Ferrell, ed., The Eisenhower Diaries (New York: Norton, 1981), 222–23 (Jan. 6, 1953); Newsweek (May 11, 1953): 28. For

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20.

21.

22.

23. 24.

25. 26.

27.

28.

Republicans generally the president’s emphasis on budgetary restraints was highly attractive. Some such as Ohio’s Robert A. Taft did not believe the cuts sufficient. Report to the National Security Council by the Executive Secretary (Lay), April 29, 1953, FRUS, 1952–1954, II:307; Memorandum of Discussion at the 160th Meeting of the National Security Council, August 27, 1953, ibid., 447–450. Memorandum of Discussion at the 168th Meeting of the National Security Council, October 29, 1953, ibid., 572; Memorandum by the President to the Secretary of State, September 8, 1953, ibid., 460–462. Review of Basic National Security Policy (NSC 162), October 7, 1953, ibid., 532; Memorandum of Discussion of the 166th Meeting of the National Security Council, October 13, 1953, ibid., 545–546; Report to the National Security Council by the Executive Secretary (NSC 162/2), October 30, 1953, ibid., 583, 591. Dulles’s New York address, January 12, 1954, Department of State Bulletin 30 (January 25, 1954): 107–110. Hanson W. Baldwin in The New York Times, November 1, 1953, January 24, 1954; Hans J. Morgenthau, “Instant Retaliation: Will It Deter Aggression,” The New Republic 130 (March 29, 1954): 11–14; Dean Acheson, “‘Instant Retaliation’: The Debate Continued,” The New York Times Magazine, March 28, 1954, 78; Thomas R. Phillips, “Our Point of No Return,” The Reporter 12 (February 24, 1954): 118–124. For Matthew Ridgway’s rejection of massive retaliation, see Norman A. Graebner, “Matthew B. Ridgway: Cold War Statesman,” in Henry S. Bausum, ed., Military Leadership and Command: The John Biggs Cincinnati Lectures, 1987 (Lexington, VA: VMI Foundation, 1987), 173–177. John Foster Dulles, “Policy for Security and Peace,” Foreign Affairs 32 (April 1954): 353–364. Elmer Davis, Two Minutes Till Midnight (Indianapolis, 1955), 36–37; Humphrey quoted in Graebner, The New Isolationism, 132; William F. Knowland, “The ‘Instant Retaliation’ Policy Defended,” The New York Times Magazine (March 21, 1954): 74ff. See Gary W. Reichard, “The Domestic Politics of National Security,” in Norman A. Graebner, ed., The National Security: Its Theory and Practice, 1945–1960 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 267–268. Strobe Talbott, The Master of the Game: Paul Nitze and the Nuclear Peace (New York: Knopf, 1988), 68–70; Richard Aliano, American Defense Policy from Eisenhower to Kennedy, 1957–1961 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1975), passim for politics of missile gap myth; also see Levering, The Public and American Foreign Policy, 114.

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29. For the evolution of American nuclear strategy under Eisenhower see David G. Coleman and Joseph M. Siracusa, Real-World Nuclear Deterrence: The Making of International Strategy (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006), 19–43. 30. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, January 17, 1961, see Public Papers of the Presidents: Eisenhower, 1960–1961 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1961), 1038. 31. Pearson to St. Laurent, February 2, 1954, quoted in Buckley, Canada’s Early Nuclear Policy, 116. 32. Quoted in Alastair Buchan, “Toward a New Strategy of Graduated Deterrence,” The Reporter (December 1, 1955): 26. 33. MemCon, 309th Meeting of the NSC, January 11, 1957, FRUS 1955– 1957 , 19: 409. 34. Senator Herbert Lehman (D-NY), April 12, 1954, quoted in Paul Peeters, Massive Retaliation: The Policy and its Critics (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1959), 79. 35. New York Times, August 9, 1953, 1; Washington Post, August 11, 1953, 1. For a summary of reaction from British newspapers, see New York Times, August 10, 1953. 36. New York Times, August 13, 1953, 4; Washington Post, August 14, 1953, 47. 37. New York Times, August 20, 1953. 38. Quoted in Leighton, Strategy, Money, and the New Look, 125. 39. FRUS, 1952–1954, 2 (Part1): 460–463. See also, Rosenberg, “The Origins of Overkill.” 40. NSC 5440, December 14, 1954, FRUS 1952–1954, 2: 808–890. 41. Sharon Ghamar-Tabrizi, The Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005), 50. 42. Zaloga, Target America, 144–145. 43. Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americas: The Democratic Experience (New York: Random House, 1973); Paul Dickson, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century (New York: Walker, 2001). 44. Paul Dickson, Sputnik: Shock of the Century (New York: Walker, 2001); Zaloga, Target America, 145–148. 45. Quoted in Leighton, Strategy, Money, and the New Look, 114. 46. Joseph T. Jockel, No Boundaries Upstairs: Canada, the United States, and the Origins of North American Air Defence, 1945–1958 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987). 47. The 911 Commission Report (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), 14–34. 48. George Gallup, Washington Post, August 13, 1953, 21. 49. Alice Kimball Smith, A Peril and a Hope: The Scientists’ Movement in America, 1945–1947 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965); Herbert York, The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller, & The Superbomb (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1976).

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50. See particularly Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon; Herken, Counsels of War. 51. William W. Kaufmann, “The Requirements of Deterrence,” Memorandum Number Seven, Center for International Studies, Princeton University, November 15, 1954. 52. Ibid. 53. Ibid. See also Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon, 186–194. 54. William W. Kaufmann, “Force and Foreign Policy,” in Military Policy and National Security, edited by William. W. Kaufmann (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1956), 237; Herken, Counsels of War, 88–90. 55. Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon, 97. 56. Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon, 99. 57. Albert Wohlstetter, “The Delicate Balance of Terror,” Foreign Affairs 37:2 (January 1959): 211–234. 58. Ibid., 211. 59. Ibid., 213. 60. Norstad address in London, February 11, 1957, Lauris Norstad Papers, Box 92, Eisenhower Library. 61. Vojtech Mastney and Malcolm Byrne, eds., Cardboard Castle?: An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955–1991 (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2005). 62. New York Times, September 17, 1952. 63. Meeting between President Kennedy and President Eisenhower, September 10, 1962, The Presidential Recordings: John F. Kennedy, vols. 1–3, The Great Crises, edited by Philip D. Zelikow, Ernest R. May, and Timothy J. Naftali (New York: W. W. Norton, 2001), 2:120. 64. Dwight D. Eisenhower, The White House Years (New York: Doubleday, 1965), 1: 248. 65. Thomas K. Finletter, Power and Policy: U.S. Foreign Policy and Military Power in the Hydrogen Age (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954), 144. 66. Nuclear Threat Initiative, 2020, https://www.nti.org/learn/countries/ united-states/nuclear/. 67. Ibid. 68. Jeffrey Lewis, “Point and Nuke Remembering the Era of Portable Atomic Bombs,” Foreign Policy, September 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/ 2018/09/12/point-and-nuke-davy-crockett-military-history-nuclear-wea pons/.

CHAPTER 6

Kennedy’s Nuclear Dilemma

John F. Kennedy inherited Eisenhower’s hard-line legacies. But many anticipated, with his election in November 1960, some departure from the established anti-Communist dogmas that would reflect a deeper appreciation of the world’s growing complexities and the special requirements that they imposed on national policy. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, delivered before the Capitol on a windy January 20, 1961, carried the promise of a fresh approach to the country’s external relations. The new president appealed to the Soviets to join Americans in seeking “to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors.” “Together,” he continued, “let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.” The instruments of war, he cautioned his audience, had far outpaced the instruments of stability. He urged nations to renew their quest for peace “before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.” But on those Capitol steps, Kennedy quickly displayed the ambivalence that would characterize his approach to foreign affairs. He pointed to the scarcely reduced dangers posed by the country’s adversaries. “We dare not,” he warned, “tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.” He instructed the Communist world that the United States © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_6

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would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”1

Kennedy and the 1960s Such ambivalence conformed to the continuing divisions in American society, measured by conflicting judgments of coexistence—whether it presaged a successful diminution of the Cold War or the ultimate victory of Soviet communism. Even the obvious changes wrought by a half generation of European peace offered scant reassurance to those Americans for whom security demanded the uprooting of Communist power and aggression. Until the Kremlin abandoned its rhetoric of world revolution and its support for radical causes, countless citizens, both inside and outside official Washington, would regard coexistence as a continuing struggle for victory by means other than war. Fearing the ultimate destruction of either the Soviet system or Western civilization, RCA chairman David Sarnoff admonished the nation: “Our message to humankind must be that America has decided, irrevocably, to win the Cold War and thereby cancel out the destructive power of Soviet-based Communism.” For Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Washington’s previous failure to pursue total victory openly exposed “an official timidity that refuses to recognize the all-embracing determination of communism to capture the world and destroy the United States.”2 Life challenged the country “to make irrevocably clear that it is resolved to…see the end of Communist efforts to dominate the world.” The editorial asked the president to assume leadership “of a full national effort to win the Cold War.”3 Kennedy required no conversion. Throughout his campaign for the presidency he had pursued a hard-line, uncompromising crusade against the Soviet Union. In Alexandria, Virginia, on August 24, he dwelled on the extreme dangers facing the country. For a decade, he warned, the tide had been running out for the United States and in for the Communist enemy. “These were the times,” he said, “when people began not to worry about what they thought in Washington, but only to what they thought in Moscow and Peking.” At Salt Lake City, on September 23, he was more specific: “The enemy is the communist system itself—implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination. For this is not a struggle for the supremacy of arms alone—it is also a struggle

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for supremacy between two conflicting ideologies….”4 Kennedy repeated such fears in his first State of the Union message on January 30. For him the United States had entered a period of national peril. Ten days in office, he averred, had taught him “the harsh enormities of the trials through which we must pass in the next four years. Each day the crises multiply. Each day their solution grows more difficult. Each day we draw nearer the hour of maximum danger, as weapons spread and hostile forces grow stronger.” Neither the U.S.S.R. nor Communist China, he declared, “has yielded its ambitions for world domination….”5

Kennedy’s Penchant for Strength As president, Kennedy surrounded himself with men who believed, as he did, that only through uncompromising toughness could the United States deal effectively with the Communist world, that the Moscow– Beijing axis, if not monolithic, remained united in essentials and therefore dangerous to the non-Communist world. Only a well-armed United States could carry the burden for peace and stability everywhere. Kennedy selected Dean Rusk as secretary of state over Chester Bowles, Adlai Stevenson, and J. William Fulbright, three intellectuals who had been critical of past decisions, especially those relating to Asia. Contrasted to Dulles, Rusk, a former Rhodes Scholar, appeared urbane and selfeffacing. Some predicted that he would introduce a new flexibility in U.S. relations with East Asia. Still, whatever his private views, his public defense of Truman’s anti-Communist policies in Asia propounded attitudes and assumptions that varied little from those of Dulles. Nothing in the Kennedy environment would dislodge them. Robert McNamara, the new secretary of defense, entered the administration as an expert on statistical analysis. To McNamara, former president of the Ford Motor Company, everything of importance could be quantified.6 He built a staff of bright emerging professionals who were convinced that they understood the requirements of the nation’s security better than the military professionals. That spirit of toughness pervaded the Kennedy administration. In external affairs, no less than in football and politics, Kennedy was out to win. Supported by key White House advisers, McGeorge Bundy and Walt W. Rostow, he welcomed every confrontation with the conviction that he could not lose. The style and external brilliance of the administration

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did not conceal its intensity, its propensity for action, its supreme confidence in its capacity to command any crisis. In background, education, outlook, and experience the Kennedy people represented the nation’s anti-Communist Establishment. For journalist David Halberstam, they possessed the Establishment’s conviction that they “knew what was right and what was wrong for the country, linked to one another, but not to the country.” Later, John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard economist and Kennedy’s choice as U.S. ambassador to India, said of them: We knew that their expertise was nothing, and that it was mostly a product of social background and a certain kind of education, and that they were men who had not traveled around the world and knew nothing of this country and the world. All they knew was the difference between a Communist and an anti-Communist. But that made no difference; they had this mystique and it still worked and those of us who doubted it…were like Indians firing occasional arrows into the campsite from the outside.7

For Kennedy and much of the nation’s Cold War elite, the SovietAmerican competition still dominated international life. In a presumed world of global conflict military power remained the decisive, essential factor. During the 1960 campaign, Kennedy warned that the “Soviet program for world domination… skillfully blends the weapons of military might, political subversion, economic penetration and ideological conquest.” The United States was falling behind the Soviet Union, therefore it was imperative to construct an “invulnerable… nuclear retaliatory power second to none” and then develop an ability “to intervene effectively and swiftly in any limited war anywhere in the world.”8 To contain Soviet involvements where U.S. interests were marginal required larger conventional forces than the country possessed. During his presidential campaign, Kennedy had joined those who charged that the United States suffered from a missile gap. In January 1961, American intelligence began to revise downward its earlier estimates of Soviet missile strength; some experts concluded that the United States had built a 3–1 lead. Still, the president was determined to fulfill his campaign pledge on national defense. His message to Congress on March 28, 1961, asked for a $2.3 billion increase in the defense budget, targeted primarily for new strategic missile systems. “Our defense,” he declared, “must be designed to reduce the danger of irrational and unpremeditated general war—the danger of an unnecessary escalation of a small war into

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a larger one, or of miscalculation or misinterpretation of an incident or enemy initiative.”9 Yet McNamara was disturbed by the nuclear “over-kill” plan he found at the Pentagon. The Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP62), ordered by Eisenhower to combine the military services’ nuclear targeting, was completed on December 14, 1960—it was to go into effect in fiscal year 1962, meaning it would begin June 1961. It was initially presented by the Air Force to then Secretary of Defense Tom Gates, various Pentagon officials and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The U.S. strategic nuclear alert force consisted of 1,459 nuclear bombs, totaling 2,164 megatons, aimed at 654 military and urban-industrial targets in the Soviet Union and Communist China. Additionally, intermediate forces targeted hundreds of Soviet air and radar bases in Eastern Europe. Should the combined forces be launched in a preemptive strike—in anticipation of a Soviet attack—it would involve 3,423 nuclear weapons, totaling 7,847 megatons, resulting in the deaths of some 285 million Russians and Chinese, and severely injuring another 40 million. Moreover, there would be millions of Eastern European and allied victims as a result of the wind-carried fallout. Only the Marine Corps Commandant, General David Shoup, posed a question. He wondered what would happen if we were not at war with the Chinese. “Do we have any options,” he asked, “so that we don’t have to hit China?” “Well, yeh, we could do that,” Air Force Chief of Staff Thomas S. Power replied, “but I hope nobody thinks of it because it would really screw up the plan.” Looking at the secretary of defense, Shoup stood and declared: “Sir, any plan that kills millions of Chinese when it isn’t even their war is not a good plan. This is not the American way.”10

Kennedy and Arms Control Kennedy arrived at the White House committed to finding means of employing arms control techniques to curb the burgeoning arms race. The previous administration, despite rhetorical endorsements of the idea, could not field a coordinated arms control policy. Eisenhower’s wellpublicized “Atoms for Peace” program did little to diminish the prospect of nuclear weapons proliferation, although its companion project, the International Atomic Energy Agency, subsequently established in 1957, would become a cornerstone of the later Non-Proliferation agreement. In an April 16, 1953 speech following Stalin’s death, Eisenhower had

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challenged Moscow to demonstrate its “sincere intent” for better relations by placing “the Soviet Union’s signature upon an Austrian treaty,” notwithstanding the administration’s fear that neutralizing Austria might prove to be a destabilizing power vacuum in the heart of Europe. In early 1955, the Soviets dropped their efforts to tie the Austrian settlement to the reunification of Germany and agreed to Austria’s neutralization in a treaty of May 1955.11 In March 1955 President Eisenhower created the post of special assistant to the president for disarmament and appointed former Minnesota governor Harold E. Stassen to the position. Following the death of Stalin, the new Soviet leadership offered a comprehensive disarmament plan on May 10, 1955, that marked a shift in the U.S.S.R.’s policy and indicated a willingness to negotiate. Unfortunately, Washington officials did not respond to the challenge. At the Geneva summit in July, President Eisenhower declared that the U.S. government was prepared to consider a pact for the reduction of arms, but, as he later wrote, the Soviets had “flagrantly violated nearly every agreement they ever made.” Therefore, Eisenhower insisted no pact was possible “unless it is completely covered by an inspection and reporting system adequate to support every portion of the agreement.” To move toward that objective, he offered the “Open Skies” plan to allow unopposed mutual aerial inspections to minimize “the possibility of great surprise attack, thus lessening danger and relaxing tension.” The Soviets viewed the over-flight plan as a recycling of Baruch’s 1946 inspection proposal and immediately branded it as nothing more than thinly veiled espionage.12 While he viewed the prospects of arms control negotiations with the Soviets more optimistically than Secretary of State Dulles and chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Lewis Strauss, Stassen failed to have much impact on policy decisions. Stassen’s resignation in early 1958 prompted popular demands to bring the arms race under control. In 1960, the Democratic candidates for president made it a political issue. Hubert H. Humphrey, who headed the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Disarmament, proposed the creation of a new agency to deal with arms control and disarmament issues. Meanwhile Senator Kennedy introduced a bill to create a separate organization to provide the expertise necessary to provide the president with authoritative advice on these matters. Once in office, President Kennedy moved more decisively than his predecessors to establish the machinery of arms control. “I have already taken steps to coordinate and expand our disarmament effort,” he

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announced in his January 30, 1961, State of the Union address, “and to make arms control a central goal of our national policy under my direction.” He desired to obtain a nuclear test ban, to limit proliferation of nuclear weapons, and to prevent the arms race from spreading to outer space. Kennedy immediately appointed John J. McCloy, who previously had held several high government positions and was a respected Republican banker, to be his adviser on disarmament matters and to prepare recommendations regarding a new arms control agency.13 The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, based on a bill drafted by McCloy, was established as an independent agency on September 26, 1961. Its mission was to strengthen United States national security by “formulating, advocating, negotiating, implementing and verifying effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament policies, strategies, and agreements.” It was hoped that the Agency would be able to integrate arms control concepts into the development and conduct of United States national security policy.14 Amidst the tensions of the Berlin crisis, Valerian Zorin and McCloy issued a joint statement on agreed principles for disarmament. Also referred to as the Zorin–McCloy agreement, the 20 September, 1961 statement offered goals for negotiation to assure that war would not be used as a way of settling international disputes. In a September 1961 address to the General Assembly, President John F. Kennedy responded to Premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1959 proposal for “general and complete disarmament” by offering one of his own, essentially for “propaganda” value. Both plans primarily sought to influence international and domestic opinion, since neither leader had any reason to expect their plan would gain approval. Extended discussions of the plans by the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) would reveal that a major point of contention continued to be that of verification. The United States insisted that verification must not only ensure that agreed limitations and reductions had taken place, but that retained forces and weapons never exceed established limits. The Soviet Union countered that continued verification of retained forces and weapons constituted espionage. As the informal moratorium on nuclear testing in the atmosphere ended in 1961, the Kennedy administration proceeded to develop a sound negotiating strategy aimed at gaining a comprehensive treaty to end all nuclear tests.15 But partial success would be more than a year away.

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Kennedy’s Russian Diplomacy Early in his administration, Kennedy explained his desire to meet Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, but warned that the Soviet leader “must not crowd him too much.” In his inaugural address, the president acknowledged his readiness to negotiate; soon thereafter he announced his intention “to explore promptly all possible areas of cooperation with the Soviet Union.” He assumed that the country’s nuclear supremacy would enable him to confront Khrushchev on outstanding issues with some prospect of success. Finally, in June 1961, the young president journeyed to Vienna to exchange views with Khrushchev. The experience was not reassuring. On June 4, Khrushchev warned Kennedy that unless the Western powers accepted the conversion of West Berlin into a free city, the U.S.S.R. would negotiate a treaty with East Germany and assign it control of the access routes into West Berlin. Kennedy reminded the Soviet leader that the West had gained its role in West Berlin by international agreement and intended to remain, even at the risk of war. At the end, Kennedy remarked to Khrushchev, “Mr. Chairman, I see it’s going to be a very cold winter.”16 The president’s report to the nation, on June 6, reflected a mood of desperation. “I will tell you now,” he declared, “that it was a very sober two days…. We have wholly different views of right and wrong, of what is an internal affair and what is aggression. And above all, we have wholly different concepts of where the world is and where it is going.”17 That Kennedy would not challenge established attitudes toward the Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe seemed apparent when, in July, he proclaimed “Captive Nations Week” and urged the American people to recommit themselves to the support and just aspirations of all suppressed peoples. Again, he affirmed the American goal of German reunification. Even earlier, in March, Kennedy requested Dean Acheson to recommend an American policy for Berlin. In his report, Acheson advised the administration that any change in the status of Berlin would reshape their alignment of power in Europe. Unless the United States took an uncompromising stand on the Berlin question, Acheson warned, the Soviet Union would dominate Europe and eventually Asia and Africa.18 Acheson recommended a huge increase in the military budget. On July 25, the president announced that he would submit to Congress a supplemental defense budget request of $3.2 billion for an immediate buildup in conventional forces. This expenditure would increase the Army’s manpower from 875,000 to one million. Within weeks the United States

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dispatched an additional 40,000 troops to Europe. At the same time, the president requested standing authority to call up their Reserves and triple the draft calls.19 Kennedy’s auxiliary defense program pushed the tension over Berlin to a new high. At a NATO meeting on August 4, the allies agreed to support military action in defense of West Berlin’s freedom and viability; France’s Charles de Gaulle and West Germany’s Konrad Adenauer opposed any negotiations with the Kremlin on the future status of Berlin. East Germany controlled the access routes to West Berlin. Anticipating a crisis, the East German government, in July, began to restrict the exodus of East Germans into West Berlin. The resulting anxiety sent a flood of East Germans across the line, including hundreds of professionals. Forty-seven thousand fled during the first twelve days of August. On the night of August 9, the Communists sealed the border between East and West Berlin. They stopped cars and pedestrians at the Brandenburg Gate as well as all service on the Communist-run elevated rail line. Beginning with a barricade of barbed wire, they eventually sealed off West Berlin completely by erecting the Berlin Wall. Germans watched in despair. Western leaders complained that the barricades broke the fourpower agreement on Berlin, but they shrank from the risk of initiating a war.20 In a gesture of defiance, President Kennedy sent a U.S. battle group from Mannheim down the autobahn through the East German checkpoints into West Berlin. Meanwhile the Soviet bloc had succeeded in impeding the escape of East Germans into the West German Republic. The Berlin crisis continued until October 1961 when Khrushchev announced that he would withdraw his December 31 deadline if the Western powers revealed some willingness to negotiate. This Berlin crisis died as did those that preceded it, with the Soviets reluctant to fight over Berlin and the Western powers reluctant to compromise their principle of self-determination. Khrushchev’s actions regarding Berlin, Kennedy later explained to the visiting Finnish President Urho Kekkonen, was part of an effort “to neutralize West Germany as a first step in the neutralization of Western Europe…[which] will mean the destruction of NATO and a dangerous situation for the whole world. All Europe is at stake in West Berlin.”21

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The Cuba Missile Crisis Even as Washington seemed to dispose of the Berlin crisis satisfactorily, its fixation with Castro invited an unwanted Soviet-American confrontation in Cuba. During 1961, Khrushchev warned Kennedy against another armed assault against Cuba, but assured the president that the Kremlin had no intention of establishing bases on the island. The administration readily accepted that assurance, knowing that the Soviets had never placed offensive missiles on foreign territory. But in May 1962, Khrushchev addressed the question of stationing nuclear missiles in Cuba. While irritated by the U.S. deployment of Jupiter missiles in Turkey across the Black Sea from his summer villa, his expressed primary motivation was the desire to defend Cuba and secondarily to adjust the strategic nuclear balance. After the Bay of Pigs and Berlin Crisis, Moscow and Havana viewed Kennedy as an aggressive leader and anticipated a forthcoming U.S. military intervention. Consequently, Castro agreed to a missile deployment in Cuba believing that Khrushchev’s boasts of a strategic balance was true. In July, Soviet officials negotiated detailed arrangements with the Cuban Defense Minister, Raul Castro, in Moscow. By late July, the CIA reported a large number of Soviet specialists in Cuba, as well as the apparent construction of an air defense system. A U-2 flight on August 29 confirmed the presence of surface to air (SAM) missile sites. For CIA Director John McCone, the expensive SAMs in Cuba could only have the purpose of protecting future Soviet offensive missile bases.22 On September 4, the president issued a statement that acknowledged the presence of defensive missiles in Cuba, and warned the U.S.S.R. against positioning weapons of “significant offensive capability.” At a news conference on September 13, the president declared that past Soviet military shipments constituted no threat to the hemisphere, but should Cuba become an offensive military base, he continued, “this country will do whatever must be done to protect its own security and that of its allies.”23 This warning was too late for Khrushchev had already ordered the transfer of missiles to Cuba. Kennedy’s persistent distinction between defensive and offensive Soviet weapons offered little comfort to the country’s anti-Communist elite. In late September, both houses of Congress passed resolutions almost unanimously that sanctioned the use of force to curb any Communist aggression in the hemisphere.24 As pressure mounted, the president, on October 9, authorized U-2 flights over the western provinces of Cuba

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to study the SAM sites. The next day, Republican Senator Kenneth B. Keating of New York, who had not been a particularly visible legislator, informed Congress that he had confirmed refugee reports of construction at six launching sites for intermediate range nuclear missiles.25 The administration denied the evidence. But on Sunday, October 14, a delayed U-2 flight took photographs that revealed the beginning of a Soviet missile base in the San Cristobel region. Analysts confirmed this discovery on Monday and proceeded to inform Defense and State Department intelligence chiefs, as well as McGeorge Bundy at the White House. On Tuesday morning, when Bundy brought the news to Kennedy, the furious president declared, “He [Khrushchev] can’t do this to me!”26 Late that morning, President Kennedy convened his top advisers to study the Soviet challenge and recommend a national response. This Executive Committee, later dubbed Ex Comm, met in absolute secrecy until the president made his decision on October 20. From the beginning, Ex Comm pondered the meaning of Khrushchev’s decision. No member believed that the Soviets meant merely to deter an American invasion of Cuba. Some concluded logically that Khrushchev sought to redress the Soviet Union’s exposed strategic inferiority.27 As CIA Deputy Director Ray S. Cline expressed it, the Soviet leader hoped “to alter the psychological and political perceptions of the balance of power, particularly in Washington.” Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury, and the Joint Chiefs accepted that judgment; for them the nearness of Cuba was sufficient to change the strategic balance. Later, Anastas Mikoyan thought that the Soviet missile deployment in Cuba was designed to defend Cuba and secondarily to correct the balance of power. Mikoyan’s son later recalled that Khrushchev worried that an American leader “might think” that given “a seventeen-to-one superiority” in intercontinental ballistic missiles a “first strike was possible.” To Moscow, this was an “impossible situation.”28 Some Ex Comm members discounted the notion of Khrushchev’s strategic challenge completely; they detected little increase in Soviet firststrike or retaliatory capabilities from Cuban-based missiles. McNamara declared that “a missile is a missile. It makes no difference whether you are killed by a missile fired from the Soviet Union or from Cuba.” Upon reflection, Kennedy agreed. The United States had thousands of nuclear warheads, the Soviets a few hundred. For Roswell Gilpatric, Deputy Secretary of Defense, the Soviet missiles in Cuba did not alter the military balance. “It was,” he recalled, “simply an element of flexibility introduced

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into the power equation that the Soviets had not heretofore possessed.” No one recalled Kennedy ever mentioning any shift in the balance of power as his reason for demanding the removal of the missiles.29 The president, however, was painfully aware of the domestic consequences of inaction. The Soviet challenge in Cuba was political, not military. What was at stake, Ex Comm finally agreed, was the nation’s will and credibility. Neither friends nor enemies, at home and abroad, would take Washington’s pledges seriously if it permitted the Soviets to place offensive missiles in Cuba. The various dimensions of the challenge compelled the president to draw away from the position that the missiles comprised no threat. He looked to Ex Comm, in Dean Rusk’s opening remarks, to consider options that “will eliminate” them.30 The sine qua non of any U.S. decision was victory. This seemed to rule out the quest for a diplomatic solution. Adam Yarmolinsky, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, asserted later that the group scarcely considered that option. Still, on October 17, Charles Bohlen, en route to his post as ambassador in Paris, advised Kennedy to communicate with Khrushchev privately and base his subsequent policy on the Soviet response. The communication, Bohlen added, “would be very useful for the record in establishing our case for action.” Soviet expert Llewellyn Thompson recommended the same course. But when Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko visited the president on the following day, Kennedy only repeated his warnings of September 4 and 13. Gromyko discussed Cuba at length without reference to the missiles; the president refused to disclose in conversation what he knew. That revelation would come with an open ultimatum. As author Henry Pachter explained, “Kennedy and the majority of the Executive Committee felt it necessary to have a public showdown with Khrushchev, forcing him to acknowledge the boundaries of his power.”31 What commanded the Ex Comm discussions was the need to weigh the alternative applications of force. Dillon, Acheson, Bundy, McCone, Nitze, General Maxwell Taylor, and members of the Joint Chiefs advocated an air strike to eliminate the missile bases, or an actual invasion of the island. Robert Kennedy, in his memoirs, expressed surprise at the extreme hawkishness of Ex Comm’s bankers, lawyers, and diplomats. McNamara introduced the idea of a blockade and attorney general Kennedy strongly seconded the concept. The blockade, or quarantine as it soon was called, was endorsed by Gilpatric, Ball, Llewellyn, Thompson, Sorensen, Stevenson, and Lovett. Finally, on October 18, Ex Comm

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agreed to recommend a stop and search quarantine of Cuba. Still the hawks would not concede; several continued to argue for an air strike. That strategy, Robert Kennedy retorted, would be a “Pearl Harbor in reverse.” Picking up on the Pearl Harbor comparison, George Ball feared where the air strike would lead: “You go in there with a surprise attack. You put out all the missiles. This isn’t the end. This is the beginning, I think.” How would Khrushchev respond to the death of hundreds of Russian soldiers? On October 20, Gilpatric stated the case for the quarantine. “Essentially, Mr. President, this is a choice between limited action and unlimited action; and most of us here think that it’s better to start with limited action.” The president concurred. He announced to Ex Comm his decision to blockade Cuba and was prepared to risk the consequences. He assured the advocates of an air strike or invasion that he did not rule out either option for the future. He now proceeded to prepare his speech for delivery on Monday evening, October 22, to reveal the presence of the missiles in Cuba and inform the world what he intended to do about them.32 Kennedy’s nationwide telecast embodied the official assumption that the Soviet missiles endangered the hemisphere, that unlike U.S. missiles in Europe, their mission was offensive, not defensive. The president’s central warning was clear: “It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” He did not include among his objectives unconditional surrender or Castro’s removal. The president delineated the American program: a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment being shipped to Cuba, continued surveillance of any military buildup in Cuba, an appeal to the OAS and the United Nations for international support and condemnation of the U.S.S.R., and a demand that the Soviets remove the missiles from Cuba.33 Adlai Stevenson carried the administration’s cause to the UN. He urged the Security Council to call for the immediate removal of the missiles to contain the Soviet Union’s perennial aggression. Edwin M. Martin, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, briefed the representatives of OAS who voted unanimously to support the Kennedy program. Secretary Rusk assumed the task of explaining the crisis to the ambassadors of the nonaligned and neutral states. He appealed to them to forego their neutrality on an issue that touched the interests of all. In

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Europe, the alliance held as Britain, France, and West Germany pledged their support.34 International approval, however, could not resolve the crisis. Kennedy and Khrushchev, tormented by the potential price of their confrontation, embarked immediately on a correspondence that ultimately led to a peaceful solution. On October 22, Kennedy addressed a letter to the Soviet leader. “I must tell you,” he wrote, “that the United States is determined that this threat to the security of this hemisphere be removed.” In his response, Khrushchev denounced the quarantine as a violation of the UN Charter and an act of aggression against both Cuba and the U.S.S.R. The weapons in Cuba, he added, were purely defensive. On October 23, Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin informed Robert Kennedy that he knew of no new instructions issued to Soviet vessels headed for Cuba. That day, the president dispatched another letter to Khrushchev, asking him to instruct Soviet vessels to observe the American quarantine. On October 24, the quarantine went into effect. Khrushchev again accused the United States of an “aggression which pushes mankind toward the abyss of a world missile-nuclear war.” In his letter of October 25, Kennedy urged the Soviet leader to obey the quarantine and make some effort to resolve the crisis. Khrushchev’s response of October 26 offered the first break in the stalemate. It implied that the Soviets would remove the missiles along with military specialists if the United States would promise not to invade Cuba or support others who might attempt it.35 Khrushchev appealed to Kennedy not to push the confrontation beyond the possibility of a peaceful solution. On the morning of October 27, Washington received another Soviet message that again offered a withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba in return for a no-invasion pledge, but it demanded as well, the removal of U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Kennedy had long regarded the Jupiters so obsolete, provocative, and irrelevant to NATO’s defenses that he had ordered them removed. Thus, Kennedy appeared ready to consider Khrushchev’s second offer. Ex Comm preferred a showdown without any concessions. The president quickly agreed, not wishing, in Robert Kennedy’s words, “to order the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey under threat from the Soviet Union.” Then a report from Cuba announced that the country’s leading U-2 pilot, Major Rudolph Anderson, Jr., had been shot down by a SAM missile. Pressed by apparent Soviet belligerence, not assured of continued Soviet compliance with the blockade, yet determined to avoid any concessions to the Kremlin, the administration had

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reached a dead end. With good reason, Graham T. Allison called October 27 “the blackest and most frustrating day of the crisis.” Facing the necessity of framing a message to Khrushchev, Kennedy adopted the suggestion of Thompson, Sorensen, and Robert Kennedy to accept the first Soviet proposal and ignore the second.36 After conveying the president’s letter to Dobrynin, Robert Kennedy demanded the removal of the missiles in 48 hours or the United States would destroy them. At the same time, he secretly informed the Soviet ambassador that the United States intended to remove the Jupiters from Turkey in four to six months with NATO approval. Whether this hint to Khrushchev, communicated without Ex Comm knowledge, influenced the Soviet response is not certain, but the president’s message of October 27, and Khrushchev’s favorable response on the following day, ended the crisis.37 Officials, writers, and scholars who advocated an ever-stronger defense quite naturally attributed Khrushchev’s decision to remove the missiles to America’s superior power and the will to use it. In February 1963, Walt Rostow’s Policy Planning Staff, in a postmortem analysis, concluded that the United States had protected its vital interests in Cuba by conveying to the Soviets the knowledge that the administration was prepared to undertake combat operations to achieve its minimum goals. What mattered in the crisis was force and toughness, now enshrined in the instruments of policy. A National Security Council memorandum of October 29, 1962 concluded that weakness had invited the Soviet aggression, but firmness would “force the Soviets to back away from rash initiatives.”38 Rostow carried that conviction to its ultimate formulation. In a New York Times Magazine essay, he reduced the conflict between the United States and its Communist foes to purely a matter of nerve and skill, backed by a finely orchestrated flexible response. He, like others, made no reference to strategic advantage or the relative importance of the interests in conflict.39 For other analysts, the issue was not that simple. James Reston noted as early as October 29 that the Soviets had readily avoided a military conflict over Cuba because the area, no less than history, placed them at a strategic disadvantage; they would not necessarily retreat where the battlefield was advantageous to them.40 At the same time, no rational Soviet leader would have sacrificed Moscow for the country’s minimal interests in Cuba. Whatever the balance of nuclear forces in 1962, Bundy, McNamara, and Cline agreed that no interests in Cuba for either the United States or the U.S.S.R. were worth the price of a nuclear war. Some believed that the chances of war were high. In retrospect, Cline thought

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them never more than one in a thousand. Khrushchev, recognizing the odds, accepted the settlement as a victory for reason. Fundamentally, the Cuban missile crisis demonstrated the importance of strategic advantage and superior geographic and historical interests in any confrontation, and the possibilities of any policy that reflected such realities. Still, the final Cuban settlement came hard. Mikoyan, charged with the responsibility of removing all offensive weapons from Cuba, encountered the resistance of a resentful Castro who, for a time, refused to see him. Kennedy’s list of offensive weapons included the Ilyushin-28 bombers in Cuba, as well as the missiles. In addition, the president opposed any Soviet military or submarine bases in Cuba. Castro reluctantly acquiesced on the issue of the Ilyushin-28 removal, but he never accepted the provision for external inspection of the missile sites. Washington did not press the issue.41 In his retreat, Khrushchev secured Washington’s acceptance of a socialist Cuba with a Soviet presence, permitting him to boast in his memoirs that he had secured at least de facto recognition of Castro’s regime. In November, the Kennedy administration suspended the Mongoose program; in December it redeemed the Bay of Pigs survivors with $54 million in medical supplies and baby food. Thereafter, U.S. policy toward Cuba remained hostile, but accepted the Castro government as a necessity. Khrushchev’s limited gains in Cuba could scarcely conceal Soviet humiliation in the missile crisis. Soviet official Vasily V. Kuznetsov commented to John J. McCloy at the UN as the missiles were being withdrawn: “You Americans will never be able to do this to us again.”42 Still, the Kremlin’s subsequent quest for rough nuclear parity received its incentive, not from the missile crisis, but from the arms buildup of the Kennedy years.

Desires for Strengthening the Atlantic Alliance Kennedy responded to Khrushchev’s challenge over Berlin and Cuba with a determination to strengthen Atlantic unity as the foundation of a stronger, more effective, Western alliance. Through his Grand Design for Europe, the president hoped to create greater conformity in the West’s economic and political institutions to enable them to meet the requirements imposed by a dangerous world. At Philadelphia, on Independence Day 1962, Kennedy declared that the United States contemplated the European movement toward union, as embodied especially in the Common Market, with hope and admiration. “We do not,” he said,

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“regard a strong and united Europe as a rival, but a partner.” Then he continued, “I will say here and now on this Day of Independence that the United States will be ready for a declaration of interdependence, that we will be prepared to discuss with a United Europe the ways and means of forming a concrete Atlantic partnership….”43 At his news conference that followed, the president refused to define what kind of partnership he had in mind, observing that it would be premature to do so before the European nations themselves had made greater progress toward unity. Kennedy’s design for Europe required, above all, a flexible Western defense. To broaden the options required to make limited war more feasible and the nuclear deterrent more credible, he stressed the need for a better choice than surrender or all-out nuclear war. That choice, to be effective, required allied conventional forces strong enough to permit a “pause” in any future fighting, sufficient to enable the combatants to negotiate a cease-fire or give the aggressor time to contemplate the consequences of further military escalation. These anticipated conventional forces required a more demanding allied commitment to Europe’s defense. The U.S. decision to maintain 300,000 military personnel in the European theater had already undermined the nation’s balance of payments structure, whereas Europe, enjoying unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, refused to contribute its share to even the existing conventional forces in Europe. By 1962, Western Europe not only had closed the dollar gap, but also had acquired gold and dollar reserves that exceeded the combined holdings of the United States and Britain.44 To maximize Europe’s contribution to the continent’s conventional defenses, the Kennedy administration opposed expenditures for independent nuclear deterrents. At Ann Arbor, Michigan, on June 16, 1962, Defense Secretary McNamara declared that “limited nuclear capabilities, operating independently, are dangerous, expensive, prone to obsolescence, and lacking in credibility as a deterrent.” He asked Europe to avoid conflicting and competing strategies to meet the contingency of nuclear war. “We are convinced,” he continued, “that a general nuclear war target system is indivisible, and if, despite all our efforts, nuclear war should occur, our best hope lies in conducting a centrally controlled campaign against all of the enemy’s vital nuclear capabilities, while retaining reserve forces, all centrally controlled.” McNamara asked that the NATO partners leave full responsibility for nuclear warfare to Washington. In Copenhagen, on September 27, McGeorge Bundy reminded Europeans that the United States could not escape its responsibilities for Europe’s defense.

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Writing in the October 1962 issue of Foreign Affairs, Bundy observed that the “present danger does not spare either shore of the Atlantic— or set Hamburg apart from San Francisco…. [W]e may reasonably ask for understanding of the fact that our own place at the center of the nuclear confrontation is inescapable.”45 The administration’s preference for a more reassuring flexible strategy did not incorporate any curtailment of the U.S. contribution to Europe’s nuclear defenses. Kennedy anticipated that greater military cooperation would eliminate trade barriers and promote a more pervading sense of Atlantic unity. From the outset, Kennedy’s Grand Design for Europe faced the countering views of France’s de Gaulle. Long before de Gaulle returned to power in 1958, many French leaders had questioned the wisdom of binding NATO’s defenses to the nuclear power of the United States. De Gaulle inaugurated his assault on the U.S. near monopoly of allied leadership in September 1958 when he proposed a tripartite global directorate, including the United States, Britain, and France, to control NATO’s decisions. Washington rejected the plan with the argument that the United States could not designate one or two European powers to speak for the others. Secretary Dulles recognized the need for more liberal American atomic secrecy laws to facilitate allied collaboration in the development of NATO’s nuclear strategy. In 1958, a modification of the Atomic Energy Act permitted the United States to provide nuclear materials and information to any ally that had “made substantial progress in the development of atomic weapons.” Obviously Britain was the only country that qualified. Washington’s rebuff of de Gaulle’s tripartite proposal and refusal to share atomic secrets with France, reinforced the French leader’s determination to build a French nuclear deterrent without American help. This would strengthen France’s voice in European affairs and increase the confidence of the French army following France’s politically imposed defeat in Algeria. Essentially, however, de Gaulle objected to making French territory a target during a Soviet nuclear attack with only Washington having the decision to go to war. In May 1959, he wrote President Dwight Eisenhower that “If there were no alliance between us, I would agree that your monopoly of the possible unleashing of nuclear conflict was justified. But you and we are bound together to a point where the opening of this sort of war, whether by you or against you, would automatically expose France to total and immediate destruction. She obviously cannot leave her life and death entirely in the hands of any other state…even the most friendly.” On September 5, 1960, de

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Gaulle issued an edict forbidding nuclear weapons on French soil unless France shared in their control. Subsequently, the United States shifted its A-bomb-carrying aircraft from French to British and German bases.46 Convinced that de Gaulle would never conform to its wishes, Washington sought an arrangement whereby the European nuclear force, closely linked with that of the United States, would encompass a future French deterrent as well. But that objective required a more effective political and economic union in Europe, and one that included Britain. To that end, the administration placed the full force of its influence and prestige behind Britain’s bid for membership in the European Common Market. Earlier Britain had refused to join either the Coal and Steel Community or the European Economic Community (EEC). Traditionally, Britain had avoided ties to the continent, but in 1961 British leaders questioned their country’s isolation from Europe. In April, Prime Minister Harold Macmillan informed U.S. officials of Britain’s desire to enter the EEC and elicited Washington’s support. “We’re going into Europe,” he informed George Ball. “We’ll need your help since we’ll have trouble with de Gaulle, but we’re going to do it.” The British quest for EEC membership faced strong opposition among British conservatives and socialists who feared that EEC’s agricultural policies would eliminate Britain’s Commonwealth preferences. Macmillan’s effort to accommodate Britain’s imperial economic interests, especially those of the Commonwealth, cast doubts on British fitness for membership in the EEC or Washington’s capacity to help.47 Europe’s response to U.S. demands for a more equitable distribution of the Western defense burden was hardly enthusiastic. Whatever its lack of flexibility, the Western deterrent had granted Europe a decade of peace without recurrent crises or prosperity-curtailing military expenditures. Many concluded, among them de Gaulle, that it was precisely Europe’s inability to fight a successful conventional war that had made the nuclear deterrent effective; apparently the Kremlin understood that any Western decision to resist even a minor Soviet assault could quickly degenerate into a nuclear war. Kennedy’s new emphasis on the need for a flexible response seemed to endanger the credibility of the nuclear deterrent and undermine further Europe’s confidence in the American commitment to its defense. Some Europeans feared that the United States, in an effort to avoid the extremity of a nuclear exchange, might refuse to act until much of Europe again lay in ruins.48 Moreover, nowhere in his Grand Design did Kennedy resolve the question of nuclear control. Those who favored

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stronger trans-Atlantic ties agreed that Atlantic unity required a sharing of responsibility for nuclear decision-making. Late in 1962, Washington discovered a possible answer to the dilemma of nuclear control in a mixed-manned multilateral defense force. Britain pushed Washington into this proposal when, in November, the Kennedy administration responded to improvements in the Polaris submarine missile by canceling the Skybolt project. Britain had joined the United States earlier in developing this air-to-ground missile; launched from bombers, it could reach targets a thousand miles away. Britain regarded the Skybolt project an American guarantee of its nuclear future.49 Britain’s Defense Minister accused the administration of attempting to deprive his country of a national nuclear deterrent. London’s bitter reaction compelled Washington to find a substitute quickly. On December 21, Kennedy and Macmillan conferred in Nassau. There the president agreed to provide Britain with Polaris missiles. To resolve the question of control, the two leaders accepted the principle of a Multilateral Defense Force (MLF) of nuclear-armed naval vessels, initially submarines but later surface ships, manned by mixed NATO crews. The proposal contained no arrangement for an integrated strategy; nor did it diminish U.S. control of its nuclear weapons.50 De Gaulle, in a dramatic press conference on January 14, 1963, challenged every facet of the American Grand Design. In rejecting the British application for Common Market membership, the French leader charged that Britain was not sufficiently European-minded to break its ties with the United States and the Commonwealth. He was, he said, simply advancing the emancipation of Europe. British membership in the Common Market would lead to the formation of “a colossal Atlantic Community under American dependence and leadership.” France could accomplish little without sacrifice, he informed a French audience in April, “but we do not wish to be protégés or satellites; we are allies among allies, defenders among the defenders.” De Gaulle rejected the principle of the multilateral defense force with equal determination. “France has taken note of the Anglo-American Nassau agreement,” he declared. “As it was conceived, undoubtedly no one will be surprised that we cannot subscribe to it.” De Gaulle dismissed completely the question of the integration of nuclear forces. France, he said, would provide its own nuclear deterrent. The French leader admitted that U.S. defense strategy covered all European targets; what he questioned, he noted, was the American willingness

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to engage in a nuclear exchange over issues that Washington might regard secondary.51 In an apparent effort to protect Europe even further from U.S. influence, de Gaulle, one week after his January press conference, announced the signing of a Franco-German treaty whereby the two governments agreed to “consult before any decision on all important questions of foreign policy…with a view to reaching as far as possible parallel positions.” American officials, wondering about the treaty’s implications, soon discovered that many German leaders were embarrassed by Chancellor Adenauer’s decision to sign the document in Paris. Actually, in Adenauer’s absence members of the German Foreign Office had prepared a preamble that upheld all the Federal Republic’s obligations under previous multilateral treaties. The West German government sent its top Foreign Office spokesmen to Washington to assure U.S. officials of West Germany’s reliability as a member of NATO. The preamble, in effect, repudiated de Gaulle’s objectives. Recognizing his failure to enlist Germany in his antiAnglo-Saxon crusade, de Gaulle proceeded to ignore the new German treaty and conduct French diplomacy without reference to Bonn.52 Still, de Gaulle had placed the movement for trans-Atlantic partnership in temporary eclipse. In Washington, de Gaulle’s news conference evoked expressions of muffled rage. Kennedy answered the French leader in a press conference on February 8, noting regretfully that France had denied Britain membership in the Common Market. He challenged de Gaulle’s assertion that the United States did not deal with Europe as an equal partner. The president reminded the press that the United States had supported every move toward European unity so that Europe could speak with a stronger voice, accept greater burdens and responsibilities, and take advantage of great opportunities.53 Only West Germany indicated a willingness to join and defray its share of the cost. Critics noted that the multinational force satisfied no outstanding strategic requirement and offered Europe no significant responsibility for nuclear deterrence. To many international observers, the new defense project was little more than an effort to involve West Germany in a system of nuclear defense without upsetting the delicate Cold War balance in Europe. If MLF placed a German in control of nuclear power, it endangered the peace of Europe—as the Kremlin made clear. If, on the other hand, MLF perpetuated U.S. control of allied nuclear defenses, it served no purpose whatsoever.54

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To demonstrate his desire to bridge the Atlantic gap with new forms of allied cooperation, Kennedy, in late June 1963, visited West Germany, Ireland, Britain, and Italy. The trip quickly assumed the form of a ceremonial spectacle. In West Germany, the president stressed the concept of partnership. At historic Paulskirche, in Frankfort, he designated the United States and West Germany as “partners for peace.” In a clear thrust at de Gaulle, he added: “Those who would separate Europe from America or split one ally from another—could only give aid and comfort to the men who make themselves our adversaries and welcome any Western disarray. The United States cannot withdraw from Europe, unless and until Europe should wish us gone. We cannot distinguish its defenses from our own. We cannot diminish our contributions to Western security or abdicate the responsibility of power.” At Bonn, the president issued the same assurance: “Your safety is our safety, your liberty is our liberty, and an attack on your soil is an attack on our own.”55 Kennedy effectively challenged de Gaulle’s persistent warnings of America’s unreliability; however, he had no measurable effect on French policy. De Gaulle’s reading of French economic interests still determined the course of Common Market decisions. When the United States, during the autumn of 1963, pressed the allies for greater defense contributions, de Gaulle replied that the American concept of a “pause” would not prevent nuclear war as effectively as reliance on instant nuclear retaliation. Nothing in the entire spectrum of Soviet behavior could disprove his contention. The MLF issue remained and it would fall to Lyndon Johnson to deal with it.

Limited Test-Ban Treaty In the immediate aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy, in words and actions, sought better relations with the Soviet Union. His willingness to resume negotiations on arms control and other tension-reducing measures reflected a conviction that the Kremlin desired agreements that reinforced the European status quo and reduced the dangers of a clash across Central Europe. In his critical letter of October 27, 1962, Khrushchev called for negotiations on a nuclear test-ban treaty. Kennedy, who had earlier sought such a pact, assigned it a top priority. Once again, negotiations quickly snagged on the question of onsite verification, as the Soviets continued to view intrusive inspections as thinly disguised spying. Finally, on May 30, 1963, Kennedy, joined by Macmillan, suggested a

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conference in Moscow to resolve the conflict. The president addressed the status of Soviet–American relations in his noted American University address on June 10. He attacked those who argued that any discussion of peace and disarmament was useless until the Soviets adopted a more enlightened attitude toward the world. He continued: I also believe we must re-examine our own attitude—as individuals and as a Nation—for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And… every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by…examining his own attitude toward the possibilities of peace, toward the Soviet Union, toward the course of the Cold War…. [L]et us not be blind to our differences—but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.56

Kennedy selected veteran diplomat W. Averell Harriman to represent the United States at the Moscow test-ban negotiations. The Joint Chiefs had long opposed a comprehensive test ban without guaranteed verification and onsite inspection. Kennedy accepted that formula. On July 2, Khrushchev offered a partial treaty, eliminating the problem of inspection by barring tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. Permitted underground testing provided the U.S. defense department and its nuclear scientists with a guarantee, as they put it, to ensure the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons. (Subsequently, from 1964 to 1992, the United States conducted 683 announced tests compared with 494 for the Soviet Union.) On July 25, 1963, Harriman, Lord Hailsham representing Britain, and Gromyko initialed the partial (or limited) test-ban treaty.57 In the Senate, the treaty, formally signed in August, faced strong opposition from the right. The father of the H-bomb, physicist Edward Teller, complained to senators that “I think through our policy of arms limitations we already lost our superiority…. And I think we might repeat the tragic mistake of the 1930s where war has not been the consequence of an arms race, but the consequence of a race in disarmament.” But public opinion mobilized sufficiently behind the president to assure a favorable vote of 81 to 19 in September.58 The Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was signed by the governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States in Moscow

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on 5 August 1963, before it was opened for signature by other states. The treaty officially went into force on 10 October 1963 and since then, 123 other countries have become party to the treaty, while ten have signed but not ratified. As indicated above, the treaty banned explosive nuclear testing or “other nuclear explosions” in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater, and only permitted underground nuclear testing if it did not produce radioactive waste to appear beyond the territory of the country that performed the test. Official negotiations for a test-ban treaty began in 1955, with a meeting between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and the Soviet Union.59 While the treaty did not eradicate all dangerous nuclear testing, it promised to work toward a comprehensive test ban and ultimately, attempted to put requisite steps in place with the goal of ending the arms race. It laid the necessary foundation for endeavors that would lead to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Its importance is based on the fact that it limits nuclear testing, as well as the amount of radioactive material dispersed into the atmosphere. Exposure to radioactive fallout has a wide array of hazardous effects on the environment, animals, and humans. During this period, there was mounting concern pertaining to the health-related effects of nuclear tests. A prevalent example of the pervasiveness of radioactive contamination was illustrated in the “Baby Tooth Survey” research conclusions where there had been a marked increase in Strontium-90 (a radioactive isotope of strontium) in infants born after large-scale atomic testing. The treaty also substantially improved the susceptibility of “downwinders” to radioactive fallout in Arizona, Idaho, and Utah near U.S. nuclear sites. The downwinders had endured several health effects in response to testing, but after the treaty went into force the levels of nuclear fallout detected moved toward more “natural levels.”60 The diplomats of the LTBT, however, were not able to include underground nuclear testing due to differences regarding the amount of onsite inspections, and dependability of automated seismic stations. Nor could they determine a process for authentication purposes. As an alternative, all parties agreed to implement their own existing verification systems in monitoring a ban in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. In the subsequent years, scientists proceeded to design more sophisticated verification instruments and equipment for detecting nuclear explosive testing, which have contributed to negotiators being able to create the Threshold Ban Treaty (TTBT), and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

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That said, the CTBT has not yet been ratified by several key hold out states, including the United States, and therefore has not entered into force. The LTBT is still in effect today and is of unlimited duration.61 Of course, this very gain for East–West relations did not stand alone. Earlier, NATO confirmed in January the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Turkey, fulfilling the president’s secret concession during the missile crisis. In June 1963, Kennedy and Khrushchev established a direct communication “hot line” between Washington and Moscow. This was the first in a series of agreements seeking to avoid the fumbling, indirect diplomatic approaches of the missile crisis that could result in a miscalculation of an adversary’s intentions. That year the United States and the U.S.S.R. agreed to support a UN resolution barring weapons of mass destruction from outer space, as well as a non-proliferation nuclear weapons treaty.62 The possibility of nuclear proliferation greatly worried Kennedy. As he told a March 22, 1962 news conference, “Personally, I am haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we are successful, there may be 10 nuclear powers instead of 4, and by 1975, 15 or 20.” Lyndon Johnson would see these arms control proposals take form and substance.

Conclusion Kennedy’s limited agreements with Khrushchev, as well as his words of hope and necessity, suggested recognition of the country’s limited power to have its way in a world of diversity. To many analysts, Kennedy was committed to a policy of “peaceful coexistence” with the U.S.S.R., with its implication that U.S. security no longer required the pursuit of victory in the Cold War. J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as many others, anticipated further displays of official American restraint, leading to reduced tensions with the Kremlin.63 Still, in his final speeches, the president focused on the Soviet danger and the burden that the United States carried for the defense of the non-Soviet world. He warned a University of Maine audience on October 19 against “laboring under any illusions about communist methods or communist goals.” A month later, he reminded Americans of the many occasions since 1945 when the United States alone had prevented the domination of the globe by the Communist forces. At Fort Worth, on the morning of November 22, he declared:

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Without the United States, South Vietnam would collapse overnight. Without the United States, the SEATO alliance would collapse overnight…. Without the United States there would be no NATO, and gradually Europe would drift into neutralism and indifference. Without the effort of the United States and the Alliance for Progress, the Communist advance onto the mainland of South America would long ago have taken place.

After reciting the enormous advances in the nation’s defense budget and the increase in its military capabilities, he assured his listeners: “We are still the keystone in the arch of freedom.” His final charge to the nation to recognize and resist the ongoing Soviet challenge appeared in the speech he was to deliver in Dallas later that day: “We in this country, in this generation, are—by destiny rather than by choice—the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility….”64 What concerned Kennedy at the end was not the country’s capacity to exist successfully in a divided world, but its willingness to assure that success by meeting the Communist danger resolutely wherever it might appear.

Notes 1. “The Inaugural Address of President Kennedy,” in John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project (Santa Barbara, CA: University of California), https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/? pid=8032. 2. Senator Goldwater’s remarks in the Senate, July 14, 1961, Congressional Record, 87th Cong. 1st Sess., Vol. 107, No. 118, 11,690; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 3. “Editorial,” Life Magazine (January 27, 1961): 16. 4. Michael R. Beschloss, The Crisis Years: Kennedy and Khrushchev, 1960– 1963 (New York: Harper Collins, 1991), 25. 5. New York Times, August 25 and September 24, 1960; “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union, January 30, 1961,” in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8045.

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6. For a discussion of Kennedy’s advisors, see John C. Donovan, The Cold Warriors: A Policy-Making Elite (Lexington, MA: Heath, 1974), chs. 7 and 8. 7. David Halberstam, The Best and Brightest (New York: Random House, 1992), 60. 8. Speech of June 14, 1960, U.S. Senate, Allan Nevins, ed., John F. Kennedy: The Strategy for Peace, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1960). 9. “Special Message to the Congress on the Defense Budget, March 28th, 1961,” in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https:// www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8554. 10. The Creation of SIOP-62, More Evidence on the Origins of Overkill, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 130, Edited by William Burr, July 13, 200, https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSA EBB130/. 11. Gerard C. Smith, Disarming Diplomat: The Memoirs of Ambassador Gerard C. Smith (Lanham, NJ: Madison, 1996), 28–29; Richard H. Immerman, John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999), 52–55, 135. 12. Smith, Disarming Diplomat, 54–55; Matthew Evangelista, “Disarmament Negotiations in the 1950s,” World Politics 42 (July 1990): 502–518; H. W. Brands, Jr. “Harold Stassen and the Perils of Disarmament,” in Cold Warriors: Eisenhower’s Generation and American Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 138–162; “Dwight D. Eisenhower, Statement on Disarmament Presented at the Geneva Conference, July 21, 1955,” in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project: https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=10306. 13. State of the Union Message, Jan. 30, 1961, in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid= 8045. 14. Text is contained in U.S. Congress, Committee on Foreign Relations, Senate, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Legislation on Foreign Relations Through 1989, vol. 2 (Washington, DC. GPO, 1990). 15. Arthur M. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 478–479, 484–486; see Glenn T. Seaborg, Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), chs. 3 and 4. 16. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 348; Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 57. 17. “Radio and Television Report to the American People on Returning from Europe,” June 6, 1961 in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8180. 18. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 380–382.

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19. Ibid., 297; “Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Berlin Crisis,” July 25, 1961, Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8259. 20. See Robert M. Slusser, “The Berlin Crises of 1958–59 and 1961,” in Barry M. Blechman and Stephen S. Kaplan, eds., Force Without War: U.S. Armed Forces as a Political Instrument (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1973), 343–439. 21. Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, 294. 22. Richard Ned Lebow and Janice Gross Stein, We All Lost the Cold War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 68, 73; John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 260–264; Mary McAuliffe, ed., CIA Documents on the Cuban Missiles Crisis, 1962 (Washington, DC: CIA History Staff, 1992), 45–97; Arthur Krock, Memoirs (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1968), 378–380. 23. For statement of September 4, 1962, see Department of State Bulletin (September 24, 1962): 450; “The President’s News Conference of September 13th, 1962,” in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8867. 24. Graham T. Allison, Essences of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston: Little, Brown, 1971), 235–237. 25. Senator Keating, Congressional Record, 88th Cong., 2nd. Sess., vol. 108, 18,359–18,361. 26. Kennedy response in Allison, Essences of Decision, 193; Beschloss, The Crisis Years, 451. 27. Lester H. Brune, The Cuba-Caribbean Missile Crisis of October 1962 (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 1996), 55–56. 28. Beschloss, The Crisis Years, 385. 29. McNamara quoted in Lebow and Stein, We All Lost the Cold War, 98. 30. Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 171. 31. See Henry Pachter, Collision Course: The Cuban Missile Crisis and Coexistence (New York: Praeger, 1963). 32. Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 178–180, 190; Gilpatric quote in Sorensen, Kennedy, 694. 33. “Radio and Television Report to the American People on the Soviet Arms Buildup in Cuba, October 22, 1962,” Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8986. 34. Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 203. 35. Laurence Chang and Peter Kornbulh, The Cuban Missile Crisis: A National Security Archive Documents Reader (New York: New Press, 1992), 185–88. 36. Allison, Essence of Decision, 223–230.

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37. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Robert Kennedy and His Times, 2 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978), 545–546; Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 217. 38. Freedman, Kennedy’s Wars, 204–205. 39. Walt Rostow, “The Test: Are We the Tougher,” New York Times Magazine (June 7, 1964): 21ff. 40. New York Times, October 29, 1962. 41. Brune, The Cuba-Caribbean Missile Crisis, 88–90; Raymond Garthoff, Reflections on the Cuban Missile Crisis, rev. ed. (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1989), 140–149. 42. Quoted in Beschloss, The Crisis Years, 563. 43. “Address at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, July 4, 1963,” cited in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.pre sidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8756. 44. See Secretary of State Rusk, “The State of the North Atlantic Alliance,” Department of State Bulletin 49:1258 (August 5, 1963): 192–193. 45. “Excerpts from McNamara’s Address, New York Times, June 17, 1962, 26; McGeorge Bundy, “Friends and Allies,” Foreign Affairs (October 1962): 21. 46. McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (New York: Random House, 1988), 476–481. 47. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 842–846. 48. Ibid., 867–888. 49. For the administration’s view of Skybolt, see Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 856–862. 50. U.S. Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Staff Study: Problems and Trends in Atlantic Partnership II, June 17, 1963, Washington, DC: GPO, 1963, 15, 54–56; for an brief, but pointed discussion see Frank Costingliola, “Lyndon B. Johnson, Germany, and the End of the Cold War,” in Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, eds., Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy, 1963–1968 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 179–192. 51. Staff Study: Problems and Trends in Atlantic Partnership II , 60–62. 52. Ibid., 2–4; for text of treaty, see ibid., 50–53. 53. “The President’s News Conference of February 7th, 1963,” in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9550. 54. Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, 953–956. 55. New York Times, June 30, 1963, 2E; see also Department of State, Foreign Policy Briefs 12:26 (July 8, 1963). 56. “Toward a Strategy of Peace,” Address at the American University, June 10, 1963, Department of State Bulletin 49:1253 (July 1, 1963): 3–4.

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57. The negotiations are detailed by Glenn T. Seaborg, who was chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and directly involved, in his Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban. 58. U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, 88th Cong., 1st Sess. (Washington, DC: GPO, 1963): 564. 59. “The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT),” The Center for Arms Control and Non-proliferation, May 5, 2027, https://armscontrolcenter.org/factsheet-limited-test-ban-treaty-ltbt/. 60. Ibid. 61. Ibid. 62. See Richard D. Burns, ed., Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, 3 vols. (New York: Scribners, 1992): II: Hot Line pacts, 847–854; Outer Space, 877–886: Nonproliferation Treaty, 855–876. 63. For Fulbright’s observations on Kennedy’s efforts at detente, see Norman A. Graebner, Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy (New York, 1964), 863. 64. “Address at the University of Maine,” October 19, 1963 in Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency. ucsb.edu/ws/?Pid=9483; “Remarks at the Breakfast of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce,” November 22, 1963, ibid., 9538.

CHAPTER 7

The Johnson Years

Despite the emerging consensus pertaining to the inadmissibility of nuclear war during the Johnson years, it certainly was no impediment to the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons. In a nuclear world, the maintenance of an adequate nuclear deterrent remained a rational policy, but the design for optimum nuclear preparation, sufficient to deter nuclear attack, remained elusive. Notwithstanding the mutual agreement on the irrationality of war, both the United States and the U.S.S.R. perpetuated an unrestricted arms race, largely to guarantee that neither side would use such weapons. For George Kennan, the entire Soviet–American conflict had been reduced largely to “the fantasy world of nuclear weaponry.” The arms race, he wrote, was caught up in a momentum without any discernible objective that required the constant preparation for an ever more destructive nuclear war. Indeed, he argued, if the two powers would roll back their nuclear armaments to some reasonable level, the U.S.S.R. would cease to be a threat to American security. No quarrel with the Kremlin would tolerate a resolution at the price of such a war. To Columbia’s Marshall D. Shulman and Chicago’s Hans J. Morgenthau, it seemed essential that the United States and the U.S.S.R. curtail their nuclear programs, long redundant, and demonstrate more restraint in their military competition.

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_7

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The Constancy in Bi-Polarity For much of the nation’s Cold War elite, for whom the Kennedy and Johnson administrations spoke, the world remained largely bipolar, with Kennedy’s final speeches still portraying the United States as freedom’s lone defender against an insatiable Communist threat. During April 1963, Kennedy, in characteristic phraseology, observed that “two irreconcilable views of the value, the rights and the role of the individual human being confront the peoples of the world.” Rusk, who continued as secretary of state under Johnson, declared as late as September: “There can be no assured and lasting peace until Communist leaders abandon their goal of world revolution.”1 For America’s Cold Warriors, consequently, Moscow could only be dealt with from a position of strength. Expression of this notion began early in the Cold War. “The only way to deal with the Soviet Union, we have found from hard experience,” Secretary of State Dean Acheson told a press conference in February 1950, “is to create situations of strength…. When we have reached unity and determination on the part of free nations…we will be able to evolve working agreements with the Russians.” President Kennedy declared characteristically, “It is only when we have military force strong enough to convince the Russians that they will never be able to gain any advantage through military strength that we can hope for fruitful negotiations.” Similarly, Secretary Rusk assured the country in 1961: “We are not dealing in the world these days from a position of weakness…. I have no doubt the Soviet government knows a good deal about our strength and has an accurate assessment of it.” In defending the nation’s decision to construct an antiballistic system, McNamara’s successor, Clark Clifford, asserted, “You deal much better with the Soviet Union when you deal from strength.”2 That the United States had long possessed sufficient strength for successful negotiation seemed clear enough. Indeed, U.S. diplomats seemingly enjoyed the backing of a universally recognized national capacity to reduce much of the earth’s surface to rubble in a period of hours. Still there were no fruitful negotiations. Fortunately for Europe, the absence of genuine negotiations was a matter of limited consequence. After mid-century, the actual policies of both the United States and the U.S.S.R., whatever the rhetoric both countries employed, were designed primarily to stabilize a Europe already divided. Whatever the failures of any serious attempts at diplomacy, those failures resulted less

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from the elusiveness of power than from the objectives pursued. Whereas the United States and the Soviet Union, in their day-to-day decisions, accepted the European status quo as a necessity, their official purposes eliminated, as politically and ideologically unacceptable, the only world available to them. What the United States sought officially was not hegemony, but a compatible world in which all countries would accept the liberal principles of self-determination, peaceful cooperation, and the rule of law. Secretary Rusk, employing standard American rhetoric, reminded a television audience on September 24, 1962, that the United States desired “a peaceful world community of free and independent states, free to choose their own future and their own system so long as it does not threaten the freedom of others.” Rusk explained why the United States continued to avoid serious negotiations with the Kremlin. “Our goal, the goal of all free men,” he said, “is incompatible with the communist goal. This contest between two incompatible systems and concepts will continue until freedom triumphs. Our objective is a worldwide victory not of one people or one nation over another, but a worldwide victory for all mankind, for freedom and a decent world order.”3 Such goals exceeded the possibilities of negotiation, even of war. As a stabilizing force, NATO’s contribution to postwar Europe, through twenty years of Cold War, was profound. Western policies of containment underwrote the continent’s astonishing political and economic achievements. But they failed to eliminate the unforeseen and unwanted consequences of the Allied victory over Germany; they did not unify Germany or erase the Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. In the absence of major Cold War victories or defeats for either side, time merely confirmed Europe’s de facto postwar boundaries. For most Western Europeans, Soviet policies did not infringe on their prosperity or welfare. What NATO lacked from its initial formulation was not the power, backed by the American nuclear arsenal, to stabilize Europe, but a set of clearly defined goals, achievable within the constraints placed on power by the irrationality of another European war. Nothing would demonstrate so effectively the limited choices confronting the West as the outbreak of a conventional war that involved the forces of the United States and the U.S.S.R; for military conflicts in the 1960s could be limited only by an unequivocal acceptance of the status quo as the object of policy. In nearly two decades of Cold War the U.S.S.R. had achieved no genuine ideological advances in Europe. By the mid-1960s it became apparent to Soviet experts that the earlier assumptions of unity in world

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communism, sustaining images of the Kremlin’s commanding ideological power, had never been particularly accurate. Rather, the Communist bloc had suffered deep and debilitating divisions, cutting deeply into the discipline that seemed to characterize the early postwar Communist movement. The loss of Yugoslavia in 1948 and the repressions in Poland and Hungary in 1956, demonstrated that the Kremlin’s authority extended as far as the reach of its tanks. Outside the Soviet hegemony, the Soviets had some influence in a number of Europe’s Communist parties, but the degree of control was inversely proportional to the importance of those parties in the life of their countries. Only extensive concessions, observed Kennan, enabled the Kremlin to maintain some semblance of solidarity with Communist movements beyond the area of military occupation. The conflicting purposes among Communist leaders on matters of foreign policy, national interests, and strategy, suggest that little remained of a cohesive international Communist movement. Indeed, for many Soviet experts world communism no longer existed. That the Soviets could sustain a Communist monolith on free consent was always an illusion. Nowhere in Asia, Africa, or Latin America could the Kremlin’s ideological expansionism overcome the power of nationalism. The political evolution of the Third World mocked the prediction that it would become the decisive battleground in the ideological struggle for the world. Not even Khrushchev’s proclaimed support for wars of national liberation offered opportunities for successful Soviet involvement. Where the Soviets managed to maintain some special affinity with Third World regimes, as in Cuba or the United Arab Republic, this was on the basis of mutual interests, not Communist ideology. In the Middle East, Soviet influence was always precarious and limited. The historic Sino-Soviet split did not necessarily weaken China or the U.S.S.R. militarily, but it created for both a new, powerful, bordering antagonist, and thereby reduced the image and the reality of both Communist giants as dangers to Western interests. Bipolarism, whether viewed as military, political, or moral, began to disintegrate in the 1950s; by the mid-sixties it had ceased to exist. In his noted address of March 1964, Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared any policy unrealistic that failed to recognize the infinite variety of interests and objectives among nations.4 For him, the chief myth of the Cold War had been the assumption that the Communist bloc was monolithic, and that the Communist states, as a body, were hostile to the United States. Indeed, most citizens of Communist-led countries were enemies of the

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Soviet Union. Moscow remained a complicating factor in the life of nations. Still, the world’s troubles remained indigenous, unique, historic, and largely domestic. In July 1964, Thomas L. Hughes, State Department director of intelligence and research, suggested a necessary policy reexamination that recognized the complex origins of human conflict: “Let us beware of thinking that all internal violence can be charged off to Communist influence, when that influence may often be merely one element among others…. In each situation we confront we must try to identify clearly the real problem, the real enemy, and the real opportunity.”5 Washington no more than Moscow could hurdle the nationalist barriers that circumscribed their global influence. Western Europe had recovered an identity of its own, its security no longer anchored to the U.S. power alone. Its economies had outstripped those of the communist world. With confidence born of superior economic power, as well as the Kremlin’s declining influence and prestige, Western Europe’s onceleading nations became increasingly independent in their behavior. Facing profound disagreements in Western capitals on basic definitions of the Soviet problem and Third World upheavals, Washington less and less sought or received European support for its global decisions. Third World countries were equally exempt from any pervading Western influence. Asia existed as a world of its own, following the dictates of its indigenous socialist and nationalist proclivities. Nations inside and outside Europe pursued their own interests and dealt with others largely on their own terms. With each passing year, the United States and the U.S.S.R. faced a growing diffusion of world power, marked by the determination of states to stand against the pretensions of others. Such nations, whether acting independently or in combination, were powerful factors in international stability. Experience suggested that the real world of sovereign nations was tougher, more resilient, and more resistant to unwanted pressures than that portrayed by the image of a vulnerable world, subject to the bipolar antagonism of two superpowers.

Reassessing the Nuclear Pathway Forward By the mid-1960s, many leading analysts were questioning the accepted notion of a continuing bipolar East–West arms buildup, driven by two conflicting ideologies. The world they perceived had little relationship to that envisioned in official U.S. policies and attitudes. For them, many

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fundamental aspects of world politics never conformed to the Cold War stereotypes. Equally troubling were the powerful, often dramatic, changes in global politics after mid-century that seemed to undermine the foundations of Cold War relationships without producing much official reevaluation. Indeed, for countless Americans and Europeans, the Soviet– American rivalry, and the unprecedented arms race that it spawned, seemed irrelevant to the main currents of international life. To its critics, Washington’s full spectrum of inflexible positions on questions that mattered, however acceptable to the American public, denied the certainty that the only long-term alternative to the Cold War was the acceptance of agreements that reflected the realities of global power and the known interests of the country’s antagonists. Despite the sword of Damocles suspended over them, the great powers had managed to negotiate away no major issue in dispute throughout the period of the Cold War. That the West had moved through crisis after crisis, neither compromising its established diplomatic posture nor experiencing attack, reflected, for many observers, the existence of mitigating factors in world politics that challenged the concept of a protracted, dangerous confrontation with an international Communist enemy. Not the least of these moderating elements was a general appreciation of the ultimate costs that a nuclear exchange would impose on the warring powers. By the mid-sixties, few writers and scientists regarded nuclear war a reasonable alternative to the perpetuation of the highly satisfactory peace that had become remarkably stabilized through twenty years of Cold War. English philosopher Bertrand Russell had warned that there was no escape from the simple choice that faced humanity: there would be peace or the annihilation of the species. Indeed, officials of both the United States and the U.S.S.R. repeatedly acknowledged this simple reality. Together they sought to encourage caution among defiant, over-demanding elements, at home and abroad, by citing the threat to civilization inherent in the nuclear arms race. “A full-scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes, with the weapons now in existence,” President Kennedy warned the nation on July 26, 1963, “could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans, and Russians, as well as untold numbers elsewhere.” Such an exchange, added Secretary Rusk a month later, “could erase all that man has built over the centuries.” Similarly, Chairman Nikita Khrushchev warned the Soviet populace that over a half billion people would be killed in the initial stages of a nuclear war. There would be no escape. Writing in October 1959, the

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Soviet leader observed that “with military techniques what they are today, there are no inaccessible place in the world. Should a war break out, no country will be able to shut itself off from a crushing blow.” Those that survived, Khrushchev added, would envy the dead; the world that they inherited would be so devastated by explosions, poison, and fire that one could hardly conceive the horrors. Nor would the survivors have any assurance that they had experienced the last of such catastrophes. That such predictions of disaster—added to those of writers, statesmen, and scientists—were a force for peace seemed undeniable.6 Indeed, no wall of power, whatever its magnitude, ever prevented war over long periods of time without the restoration of conditions that rendered it pointless. Europe’s peace and stability reflected not merely the mutual fear of nuclear destruction, but, even more, the realization that the unresolved issues between East and West were considerably less than vital for one side or the other. As James Reston observed in The New York Times, “At no period of history have enemies faced each other for so long over so vast an area and yet shown more restraint than the Western powers and the Communists.” There had been incidents and provocations, but no nation possessing nuclear striking power had passed, or perhaps even approached, the point of no return. Few lines of demarcation could experience tampering without setting off a war. With good reason, the Kremlin had refused repeatedly to follow with action its unsuccessful quests for change in the status of West Berlin. The resolution of no European conflict dictated the necessity or wisdom of another Armageddon.7 Already the Western powers had coexisted with the Soviet empire in Europe for almost two decades with remarkable success. The United States had demonstrated the capacity and will to maintain the European status quo where it mattered; it had demonstrated no power to alter it peacefully. Liberation had been an illusion. To avoid unwanted military confrontation across Europe, the West chose to coexist with the political realities of Soviet-occupied Europe as a matter of necessity. With the Western acceptance of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, the United States no longer had any serious territorial-political conflict with the U.S.S.R.8 Outside the areas of Soviet occupation, policies justified in terms of international communism seemed equally divorced from reality. For orthodox Marxists, who discounted the power of nationalism, international quarrels among Communists were unthinkable. Stalin and his associates might have assumed that any Communist movement would accept

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Moscow’s direction. In practice, however, the Kremlin quickly abandoned its antinationalism and concomitant hope for a united Communist world. Stalin himself grounded Soviet foreign policy in national interests. Communist dogma emerged neither as a serious guide to Soviet policy or a source of unique expansive power. In Eastern Europe, Stalin merely exploited the instruments of communism, anchored to Soviet military dominance, to establish and maintain puppet regimes. “It may be,” wrote Louis J. Halle, formerly a key member of the Policy Planning Staff, as late as 1959, “that Marx’s vision of Utopia is still entertained as a daydream by some Russian Communists. But the men who run things in Moscow are tough, practical operators…. [T]heir working objectives are surely of quite a different order. They are the familiar objectives of a great power, to realize its interests and ambitions as one state in a world of rival states.”9 In the world of power politics, what mattered for the United States was the Kremlin’s definition of its territorial and political interests and the strength and will of the external world to resist unwanted Soviet encroachments. Soviet expansion would flow from military conquest, with all the risks that such policy assumed, or it would not occur at all.10

The Transition to President Lyndon Johnson With President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas on November 22, 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson inherited not only the Kennedy policies, carrying major responsibility for defending Western society in a presumably dangerous world, but also a body of advisers whom he had learned to know and respect—indeed, to hold in awe as members of the country’s so-called “best and brightest.” His membership in the Kennedy administration, added to the nature of his dramatic, unanticipated succession to the White House, appeared to assure continuity in policy. His foreign policy convictions varied little from those held by the administration’s key interpreters of world events. Contrary to widely held contemporary (and historical) views, Johnson would be more fully involved than Kennedy in directing his administration’s foreign policy, tending on occasions toward micromanaging. To a much greater extent than his predecessor, Johnson’s decisions emphasized the relationship between domestic and foreign policy. As historian Thomas A. Schwartz has emphasized, he “thoroughly understood that American domestic politics constrained or limited U.S. foreign policy.” Johnson also understood that domestic politics of other nations, both allies and adversaries,

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conditioned their response to Washington’s initiatives. Recognizing the issues and limits confronting Allied leaders allowed him to skillfully manage the politics of NATO. Johnson never allowed his staunchly held anticommunist views to question “the legitimacy of the Soviet Union.” Rather, he was determined to reduce tensions between Washington and Moscow, and as an initial step avoided the use of such terms as “total victory,” “captive nations,” and “ruthless totalitarians.” He only tentatively, however, adapted policies to reshape the profound restraints that the world imposed on its two superpowers. If the new president failed to deal with the core issues— for example, the unification of Germany, removing the threat of nuclear war and formal recognition of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe— he and his advisers did understand that the Cold War was centered in Europe. “Europeans were not innocent bystanders in the Cold War,” as Secretary of State Dean Rusk often noted. “They were the issue.”11 Johnson’s awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons led him to rule out any idea of a “limited nuclear war” or, as Barry Goldwater urged, vesting authority in the supreme commander of NATO to employ nuclear weaponry. At Detroit in September 1964, the president declared: “Modern weapons are not like any other. In the first nuclear exchange, 100 million Americans and more than 100 million Russians would all be dead. And when it was all over, our great cities would be in ashes, our fields would be barren, our industry would be destroyed, and our American dreams would have vanished. As long as I am president, I will bend every effort to make sure that day never comes.”12 If Johnson was, as biographer Robert Dallek discerned, “a forceful foreign policy leader,” he often disguised his intentions behind a bewildering mixture of “rhetorical bombast, jokes, role playing, and folksy sentimentalism.” Consequently, H. W. Brands has suggested: “Johnson could be wise, and he could be foolish; his efforts to secure American interest in various parts of the world sometimes succeeded, and sometimes failed. Vietnam was an important influence on American foreign policy, but it wasn’t always determinative.”13

Johnson and the Chinese Nuclear Question Johnson inherited Washington’s potentially dangerous, noncompromising U.S. posture toward China. The State Department, recognizing the deepening Sino-Soviet schism, initially hoped that the

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People’s Republic somehow might be brought into a new alignment with Washington against Moscow. In an address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco on December 13, 1963, assistant secretary of state Roger Hilsman suggested that the new administration might be prepared to undertake a more pragmatic approach to the China question. While acknowledging that Taiwan would continue to enjoy U.S. protection, he offered the possibility of a “two China” policy since the People’s Republic was unlikely to collapse. While Hilsman offered little that was new, his speech caused a sensation, eliciting favorable comments from individuals at home and abroad who surmised that the administration was adopting a more constructive approach. Surprisingly, there was little domestic opposition to the notion. As it became evident that China was determined to join the nuclear weapons club, Washington launched futile efforts to engage Beijing in discussions aimed at limiting its nuclear programs. Ignoring calls to participate in conferences at Geneva, Beijing officials refused sign the nuclear test ban and nonproliferation pacts insisting that they were designed to guarantee a Soviet-American monopoly. With China refusing to curb its nuclear intentions, Johnson, Rusk, McNamara and CIA director John McCone explored the possibility of approaching Moscow for a “preventive military action.” Nothing came of the discussion and the administration accepted a nuclear China, while hastening to inform its Asian friends that China’s primitive devices did not alter the balance of power. That said, with the explosion of its nuclear device in October 1964, and its call for global revolution, China was seen by some in Washington as the world’s gravest danger to peace and security, surpassing the U.S.S.R. In December 1965, McNamara warned NATO ministers that soon China, possessing nuclear weapons and an adequate delivery system, would pose a threat to Europe itself. In the United Nations, Secretary Rusk, supported by Ambassador Arthur Goldberg, insisted that the United States would never revise its commitment to the Republic of China or accept mainland Chinese membership in the UN. “The admission of Peiping,” warned Goldberg, “would bring into our midst a force determined to destroy the orderly and progressive world which the United Nations has been helping to build over the past 20 years.”14 Recognition of the Beijing regime would only encourage its violent nature, reward its international misbehavior, and strengthen its belief in the righteousness of its ideology. What confirmed Washington’s perception of a dangerous and

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aggressive China was Marshall Lin Piao’s doctrinal article that appeared in the Beijing press on September 3, 1965. This manifesto by the Chinese Defense Minister proclaimed a worldwide people’s war against the West thus reaffirming Beijing’s commitment to global revolution. For Lin Piao, the countryside, the underdeveloped regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, would provide the bases from which the revolutionaries would achieve a final victory over the cities—the industrial regions of North America and Western Europe. This revolution, he admitted, would be long and costly, but it would triumph.15 Washington measured Lin Piao’s call for revolutionary action with Indonesian President Sukarno’s decision in early 1965 to withdraw from the United Nations and embrace Beijing. The Indonesian president’s endorsement of Communist policies and the repeated anti-Americanism demonstrations at the U.S. embassy were seen as a product of China’s new belligerency. Even though a coup by General Suharto a month later returned a more tractable Indonesian government, U.S. officials and friends of Chiang responded to Lin Piao’s call for revolution with renewed fears of Beijing. Rusk advised the nation in April 1966: “Peking is prepared to train and indoctrinate the leaders of these revolutions and to support them with funds, arms, and propaganda, as well as politically. It is even prepared to manufacture these revolutionary movements out of whole cloth.” China’s alleged support for global revolution provided the ultimate rationale for a policy of universal opposition to China; Lin Piao had announced to the world both the ends and the means of Chinese expansionism. Beijing’s new challenge, warned Rusk, would lead to catastrophe if not met by a timely, if indefinable, response.16 Nevertheless, a somewhat greater flexibility in policy slowly emerged in Washington. In contrast to the earlier Eisenhower and Kennedy hardline condemnation of mainland China, the United States now offered some limited initiatives. In 1965–1966, Washington eased travel restrictions for certain classes of professionals; in 1967 it lifted prohibitions on the sale of pharmaceuticals for several extremely contagious diseases, and in 1968, it invited Chinese journalists to witness and report on the presidential campaign. If the opportunity arose, American officials abroad were permitted to engage in informal social contract with Communist Chinese; however, they were to avoid “conveying the public impression of a change in US policy of nonrecognition.” Beijing rebuffed these American initiatives, insisting improvement of relations depended upon recognizing Taiwan as part of Communist China.

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Official efforts to sustain the perennial anti-Chinese consensus at home were doomed to failure. That behavior toward mainland China, with rationales that had little relation to reality, had long faced a telling criticism from those in Washington and out, that denied the United States had any genuine interests or objectives in Asia, demanding the endless, ineffectual crusade. As late as 1965, the Committee of One Million, Nationalist China’s powerful American lobby, could still muster majorities in both houses of Congress, but it could no longer wield much influence outside government or in the United Nations. In December 1966, several senators, including staunch Nationalist Chinese supporter, Paul Douglas of Illinois, formally severed their ties with the committee. By 1968, the committee had fewer than one hundred supporters in the House, and failed that year to extract a hard anti-Beijing statement from Republican candidate Richard Nixon. Indeed, much of the Congress and the country’s intellectual community demanded a new approach to China.17

Nuclear Diplomacy and Europe In Europe, Johnson faced a series of significant challenges ranging from preventing West Germany from gaining nuclear arms, to de Gaulle’s challenge of Washington’s Southeast Asia policy, and to France’s withdrawal from NATO. However, as Thomas Schwartz concludes, Johnson’s ability to deal with them and hold the alliance together was “impressive.” By June 1963, the Kennedy administration’s tepid interest for the Multilateral Defense Force (MLF), concocted in an effort to provide NATO with a voice in decision-making regarding use of nuclear weapons, had waned. Their original interest in MLF stemmed in part from the need to sooth British sensitivities following cancelation of Skybolt, an air-toground missile, when the improved Polaris submarine-launched missile proved more effective. Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, noted three strikes against MLF: it had gained little Western European support, France’s de Gaulle had failed to obtain German support for his nuclear force, and the Soviets—who were prepared to sign a nuclear test ban—were opposed to it. Many of its critics labeled the MLF the “multifarce.” Nonetheless, in April 1964, Johnson renewed interest in nuclear sharing within NATO, determined to obtain NATO approval of MLF by year’s end, for he viewed MLF as a means of curbing West Germany’s interest in nuclear weaponry and diminishing the significance of de Gaulle’s force de frappe. His decision pitted MLF advocates in

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the State Department, who saw it as a means of European integration under U.S. management, against the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency seeking to halt nuclear proliferation. MLF stalwarts in State hoped the “shared decision-making” would eventually lead London and Paris to phase out their nuclear weapons systems and assume the costs of U.S. forces stationed in Europe. But Washington was not prepared to give up its veto over nuclear weapons usage. In a restatement of the standard assurances that the United States was “prepared to make nuclear decisions jointly with Europe,” Secretary Rusk laid out for the Italian ambassador, perhaps unintentionally, what “jointly” actually meant. Europe must make the choices the United States wanted. “We do not want separate European and U.S. decisions,” he continued. “We will not accept a situation in which Europe can in fact decide for us on the use of nuclear weapons, while we have 95% of the total alliance power.” Only the West German government expressed interested in the MLF program in the hope of tying the United States ever closer to Germany’s defense and, at the same time, employing it as a bargaining chip in reunification negotiations. Britain, France, and the Soviet Union were outspoken in their opposition, the latter urging instead a focus on nonproliferation. With Congress also opposed to the idea of nuclear sharing, the Johnson administration finally decided to “arrange to let MLF sink out of sight.”18 Late in January 1964, in a dramatic press conference, de Gaulle openly defied U.S. Far Eastern policy by announcing the French recognition of mainland China and stressing again the need for the neutralization of Southeast Asia.19 Never before had French policies clashed so directly and universally with those of the United States. Then in the summer of 1965, de Gaulle proclaimed that France would no longer tolerate its subordinate position in the Atlantic Alliance. Not without reason. Throughout NATO’s history, U.S. officers had always held the two supreme command posts. Of the ten principal subordinate commands, British officers always held six, the United States three, and France never more than one. In September, de Gaulle declared that France would terminate that subordination no later than 1969. But on February 11, 1966, the French leader informed a press conference that France would withdraw all French officers and troops from NATO’s integrated command and remove all military installations not under exclusive French control. French independence, he said, would permit nothing less. Premier Georges Pompidou explained to the French Assembly that France would continue to favor

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nuclear deterrence above flexible response—a device, he noted, to limit a future war to European battlefields and spare the territories of the United States. France ran no risks. As de Gaulle pointed out, the United States could not defend Europe without defending France.20 American reaction to de Gaulle’s repeated assertions of French independence was not unanimous. If Johnson personally downplayed de Gaulle’s actions, others in Washington denounced the French leader as rude and malicious. Those who placed faith in Western power and unity believed de Gaulle’s policies both dishonest and disastrous. Acheson, key architect of the NATO alliance, termed the French leader’s behavior “an erosion on one side of the Grand Alliance.” French policy, he added, “increases the difficulty of action within the alliance by opposition to joint and integrated measures designed to advance common interests and solve common problems.”21 To other American analysts, conscious of the past two decades of changes that had wrought in Europe’s economic and military progress, de Gaulle’s challenge to American policies was both rational and predictable. The Atlantic Alliance remained what President Truman described as a “shield against aggression.” But even this continuing common interest in mutual defense did not, in itself, create a body of policy. Indeed, after fifteen years of NATO, the common policies required to implement the alliance remained elusive. There was not one European issue, political or military, on which all members agreed. On questions outside Europe, the United States stood almost alone, pursuing unilateral policies or none at all. Ultimately the challenge to allied unity rested on the sheer quality of United States foreign policy, for no country would willingly follow another to its destruction.

Presidential Overtures and Advancements in Arms Control Despite Moscow’s major expansion of its nuclear arms program, by the mid-1960s the prospects of a Soviet military assault upon Western Europe or launching their nuclear-tipped ICBMs toward U.S. targets appeared increasingly remote. Even the monolithic nature of the competing alliances gave signs of decay as nationalist forces emerged in Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, on the one hand, and in France and West Germany on the other. If some eastern bloc countries began looking westward, some members of the western bloc looked eastward. In June

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1966, de Gaulle visited Moscow in hope of reaching an understanding that would contain the Germans and sustain for France a predominant role in the West and the Soviet Union in the East. Earlier, West German Foreign Minister Gerhard Schroeder had initiated contact with the Soviets aimed at improving relations with East Germany and the other eastern bloc nations. Seeking to catch up with the changing European scene, officials in Washington sought to expand contacts with the Eastern European Communist governments.22 The spring of 1966 witnessed the emergence of the Johnson administration’s “bridge building” policy toward the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe states consisting of political, economic, and cultural contacts. While the president was often frustrated by the actions of America’s allies and strategic competition in regions beyond Europe, he reached out to Moscow in search of an “understanding” that would later be called détente. As an administration staff member saw it, Johnson’s efforts to engage Soviet leadership had provided “the most productive period in the history of our relations, despite Vietnam.” This is not at all what many hard-line American anticommunists, such as the American Security Council, had in mind. In August 1964, the Council’s policy-making arm, known as the National Strategy Committee, unveiled its own strategic agenda in a booklet entitled Guidelines for a Cold War Victory. This committee, chaired by Robert Galvin, the head of Motorola, included prominent retired generals such as Mark Clark, the former head of the United Nations forces in Korea, and physicist Edward Teller, father of the H-bomb and a strident foe of Moscow. Put briefly, the Guidelines called on the U.S. government to eschew its failed policy of accommodation with Russia, and actively pursue a Cold War victory which could be achieved primarily by putting pressure on the enemy just “short of [nuclear] war.” Inherent in this plan was the recognition that the Soviets currently held a position of strategic inferiority, and was thus unable to launch a decisive strike on the United States. Beyond this point, however, Guidelines cautioned that the United States might not retain its advantage, since Russia “had approached the problem [of missile defense] in a positive manner,” perhaps enabling it eventually to alter the strategic balance. As a result, it claimed that there was an “urgent need” for the U.S. to develop an “effective” system of missile defense, including a fallout shelter system. Although not minimizing the technical difficulties involved, Guidelines nonetheless echoed Teller’s somewhat embellished forecast: if a Soviet strike occurred, active and

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passive defense together could lead to a survival rate of ninety percent.23 The Soviet missile defense system, which was ineffective against the U.S.’s massive fleet of ground- and submarine-based missiles, would long remain a contentious issue with Cold War hawks. Choosing to ignore this advice, Johnson launched a significant effort at bridge building, involving initiatives aimed at slowing down or placing limitations on the arms race. A major result of the discussions over Washington’s many proposals for new arms control agreements—some resulted in useful treaties, others were non-starters—was the gradual development of a more relaxed superpower relationship. After only six weeks in office, the Johnson administration had optimistically submitted a fourteen-point arms control program to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference (ENDC) meeting at Geneva. Such a comprehensive initiative, however, had little hope of gaining much attention. Consequently, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy suggested the best approach for the administration to take would be small steps seeking to encourage American-Soviet cooperation. In early 1964, officials in the Atomic Energy Agency and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency revived a Kennedy administration proposal to cut back the production of weapons-grade uranium (U-235). Kennedy hesitated to press the idea until after the 1964 election, but Johnson promptly moved ahead. In his 1964 State of the Union message, the president announced that the United States was unilaterally cutting back production of U-235 by twenty-five percent and urged the Soviets to do the same. After an exchange of favorable messages, Moscow agreed to close down two facilities and Washington four. The result was strategically insignificant but important symbolically. “It was not a big step,” Johnson wrote in his memoirs, “but it was a movement.” Other immediate small steps met with mixed results. In 1963–64, Washington and Moscow each unilaterally announced military budget cuts; but in 1965 the United States began increasing its spending because of the Vietnam conflict. The Soviets were upset over this turn of events and the unilateral effort to reduce military budgets collapsed. In January 1964, the United States proposed a “Strategic Nuclear Delivery Vehicle Freeze” that called for both superpowers to halt production of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and to maintain each force at its current level. This was a non-starter because it would have frozen the U.S.S.R. in strategic inferiority.24

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Subsequent American initiatives, focusing on banning nuclear weapons in outer space, halting the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and limiting defensive and offensive missiles, gained a more productive response. Because of his earlier involvement in the U.S.’s space program, Johnson was determined to expand the 1962 United Nations resolution prohibiting deployment of nuclear weapons in outer space into a binding international agreement. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, opposed to any formal treaty, delayed final negotiations for nearly two years. On May 7, 1966, the president overruled the Joint Chiefs and publicly declared: “no country should be permitted to station weapons of mass destruction on a celestial body; weapons test and military maneuvers should be forbidden.” The Soviets entered into negotiations, despite Communist Chinese propaganda condemning Moscow for dealing with the Western nations. The Outer Space Treaty emerged in August 1966.25 The troubling prospect of nuclear proliferation, with possibly West Germany, the Peoples Republic of China and other nations seeking nuclear weapons, was another inheritance from the Kennedy administration. That Communist China would soon join the nuclear club was particularly upsetting to the Johnson administration. When exploration of American “covert activities” or joint U.S.-Soviet preventive military action to stop testing of China’s initial bomb proved unfeasible, Washington focused its attention on a nonproliferation pact. Between November 1964 and January 1965, the Gilpatric Committee reviewed U.S. options, including abandonment of the MLF proposal, to gain Soviet support. “For a U.S. non-proliferation policy to be effective,” argued Roswell Gilpatric, Robert McNamara’s deputy at the Defense Department, “Soviet cooperation, either implicit or explicit, would be essential.” Brushing aside the State Department’s hopes for the MLF, Johnson authorized the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency to draft a formal proposal. When the new Moscow team of Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin learned of the demise of MLF, they concurred that a nonproliferation agreement would be in their best interest as well. Negotiations between 1966 and 1968 narrowed the superpowers’ differences; their influence and coercion of other nations resulted in the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty on July 1, 1968. At the signing, Johnson declared that the treaty was “the most important international agreement since the beginning of the nuclear age.” He was not far off the mark.26

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The increasing sophistication of strategic weaponry—intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), antiballistic missiles (ABMs) and multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRVs) carrying nuclear warheads— prompted Defense Secretary McNamara and Johnson to seek ways to dampen the arms competition. As early as March 1963, McNamara advised an audience of advertising executives: “The increasing numbers of survivable missiles in the hands of both the United States and the Soviet Union are a fact of life. Neither side today possesses a force which can save its country from severe damage in a nuclear exchange. Neither side can realistically expect to achieve such a force in the foreseeable future.” Despite bitter complaints, the secretary launched a prolonged campaign to convince the public and military that existing nuclear weaponry, which “assured” the destruction of one’s adversary, was a deterrent—the best defense—against their use.27 As early as 1961, McNamara together with other defense scientists had concluded that expanding antiballistic missile (ABM) programs would only greatly drive up the cost of the arms race, for it was cheaper to build offensive missiles. By 1967, he was convinced that ABMs were becoming a destabilizing factor, endangering the existing nuclear parity. He offered two cost effective alternatives: improve U.S. offensive systems and seek with Moscow ABM limitations. Between June 23 to 25, Johnson and McNamara unsuccessfully presented the idea of limiting ABMs and offensive strategic weaponry to an unprepared Premier Kosygin during a hastily arranged summit at Glassboro, New Jersey. Subsequently, pointing to the Soviet ABM system (named by Americans “Galosh”), the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Congress pressed the reluctant defense secretary in 1968 to authorize deployment of a “thin-line” ABM system, which they acknowledged, could not protect the United States from Soviet ICBMs. Overlooked or ignored by the public, Congress and the military, was the fact that existing anti-missile technology, both American and Soviet, was inadequate. At a White House meeting, a distinguished group of defense scientists were unanimous in opposing deployment of an ABM system simply because it would not be effective. Meanwhile Soviet leaders, who initially resisted the idea of placing limits on missile defenses, found some members of the Russian scientific community arguing that “an effective ABM system was technically infeasible given existing technologies.” Nevertheless, the Nixon administration would deploy an ABM system designed to defend U.S. ICBM sites. Eventually, however, the ineffectiveness of ABMs would result in them being significantly restricted

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in 1972.28 The road to détente began with Johnson’s efforts to secure a Soviet commitment to seek limits on strategic nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. In his January 1967 State of Union message, the president declared: “Our objective is not to continue the Cold War, but to end it…. We have a solemn duty to slow down the arms race.” Following a number of frustrating attempts to extract a commitment from the Soviets, Johnson was able to announce in July 1968 that discussions on limiting strategic weapons would begin the near future. The Politburo’s annoyance with the U.S. intervention in Vietnam, offset by their disagreements with China, would not halt Moscow efforts to reach an accommodation with Washington.29

Conclusion Johnson’s planned visit to Moscow in 1968 to launch the strategic arms limitation talks was abruptly derailed. Earlier that year, Antonin Novotny, the arbitrary Communist dictator who had ruled Czechoslovakia with an iron fist since 1953, was forced out of office. His successor, the reform-minded Alexander Dubcek, began instituting changes designed to create a form of “democratic socialism.” The “Prague Spring,” as it was known, expanded civil rights, extended the freedom of the press, and initiated steps toward a democratic political process. Unable to tolerate these actions, in August Brezhnev ordered Soviet troops and tanks into Czechoslovakia to remove Dubcek from office and replace him with a hard-line Moscow-loyalist, Gustav Husak. This heavy-handed intervention prompted international condemnation, even outcries of indignation from foreign Communist party leaders and other Communist-led nations. Subsequently, a Pravda article laid out the official justification of Moscow’s decision: heads of communist nations “must damage neither socialism in their own country nor the fundamental interests of the other socialist countries.” Brezhnev later added that “when … forces hostile to socialism seek to reverse the development of any socialist country,” this action poses “a common problem and concern of all socialist countries.” Thus, emerged the “Brezhnev Doctrine.” Critics of U.S. interventionist policies did not hesitate to compare President Johnson’s justification for intervening in the Dominican Republic to that of the Soviet leader. Johnson had, in his “rocking chair doctrine,” made it plain that the United States was not going “to let the Communists set up

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any [new] government in the Western Hemisphere.” The Nixon administration would have to put the preliminary Johnson-Brezhnev discussions regarding strategic arms limitation, and the notion of détente, back on track.30

Notes 1. Kennedy quoted in Norman A. Graebner, Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 794; for Rusk’s statement see Norman A. Graebner, ed., The Cold War: A Conflict of Ideology and Power, 2nd ed. (New York: Van Nostrand, 1976), xxiv; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America and the Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Acheson’s press conference, February 8, 1950, Department of State Bulletin 22 (February 20, 1950): 273. 3. New York Times, September 25, 1962. 4. See Fulbright’s noted address, “Old Myths and New Realities,” in The New York Times, March 26, 1964, reprinted in Graebner, Ideas and Diplomacy, 862–64. 5. Thomas L. Hughes, Speaking Up and Speaking Out, XLIBRIS (August 22, 2013), 24. 6. Quotes in Norman A. Graebner, “Can a Nuclear War Be Avoided?” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 351 (January 1964): 133–35. 7. Graebner, The Cold War, 183. 8. Kennan in Graebner, The Cold War, 183. 9. Louis J. Halle, “The Basic Aim of the Kremlin,” The New York Times Magazine (June 28, 1959): 5, 41–43. 10. Kennan in Graebner, The Cold War, 183. 11. Thomas Alan Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003), 18–19, 21– 28; Thomas W. Zeiler, Dean Rusk: Defending the American Mission Abroad (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 2000), 56. 12. Speech, September 7, 1964, Public Papers of the President: Lyndon B. Johnson 1963–1964 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1965), 1049–52. 13. See H. W. Brands, ed., The Foreign Policies of Lyndon Johnson: Beyond Vietnam (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999), 4–5, 8. 14. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, “Threats, Opportunities and Frustrations in East Asia,” in Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, eds., Lyndon

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Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy, 1963–1968 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 108; Department of State Bulletin 53 (December 13, 1965): 941–43. Lin Piao, “Long Live the People’s War,” Peking Review 8 (September 3, 1965). Tucker, “Threats, Opportunities and Frustrations in East Asia,” 103; Rusk quoted in The New York Times, April 17, 1966. Tucker, “Threats, Opportunities and Frustrations in East Asia,” 106–8; see also Stanley Bachrack, The Committee of One Million (New York, 1976). Frank Costigliola, “Lyndon B. Johnson, Germany, and “the End of the Cold War,” in Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, eds., Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy, 1963–1968 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 180–87. Tucker, “Threats, Opportunities and Frustrations in East Asia,” 102. Schwartz, Lyndon Johnson and Europe, 93–107. Douglas Brinkley, Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953–71 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 228–35. Frank Constigliola, “LBJ, Germany, and the End of the Cold War,” in Warren I. Cohen and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Lyndon Johnson Confronts the World: American Foreign Policy, 1963–1968 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 193–95. Cohen, “Introduction,” ibid., 1; New York Times, August 12, 1964; “Guidelines for Cold War Victory,” American Security Council Forum (August 1964); see also Richard Dean Burns and Lester H. Brune, The Quest for Missile Defenses, 1944–2003 (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 2003). Hal Brands, “Progress Unseen: U.S. Arms Control Policy and the Origins of Détente, 1963–1968,” Diplomatic History 30 (April 2006): 253–57. Ibid., 258–61; see also Raymond L. Garthoff, “The Outer Space Treaty: 1967 to the Present,” in Richard Dean Burns, ed., Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, 3 vols. (New York: Scribners, 1993), II:877– 86. Brands, “Progress Unseen,” 270–73; Thomas Graham, Jr., Disarmament Sketches: Three Decades of Arms Control and International Law (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), xvii–xviii; see also Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “The Superpowers and the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” in Albert Carnesale and Richard N. Haass, eds., Superpower Arms Control: Setting the Record Straight (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1987), 165–190. Foreign Relations, 1952–54, II: 837. Burns and Brune, The Quest for Missile Defenses, 19–30, 55–57. Brands, “Progress Unseen,” 277–85.

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30. John Prados, “Prague Spring and SALT: Arms Limitation Setbacks in 1968,” in Brands, ed., The Foreign Policies of Lyndon Johnson, 19–36; Edward H. Judge and John W. Langdon, A Hard and Bitter Peace: A Global History of the Cold War (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996), 208–10.

CHAPTER 8

The Search for Détente: Nixon and the Ford Transition

Richard M. Nixon, in assuming the presidency in January 1969, inherited a body of Cold War policies that had changed little since midcentury. To discourage feared Soviet expansionism in Europe, successive administrations, with variations in language and style, had sustained the precepts of containment as they proclaimed the country’s adherence to NATO. To protect the non-European world against Communist encroachment, U.S. officials sustained the nation’s undying opposition to Communist-led governments and movements everywhere, as manifestations of the Kremlin’s expansive power. In Asia, containment centered on the non-recognition of China’s Beijing regime and the war against falling dominoes in Southeast Asia. Together these exercises in containment defined the U.S. contribution to the defense of diversity in the non-Soviet world. For Nixon, however, the assumptions of Communist unity and power ignored the accumulating evidence of national selfassertion and its impact on global politics. Likewise, Henry A. Kissinger, the distinguished Harvard scholar who entered the Nixon administration as presidential assistant for national security affairs, recognized the demands of a changing global environment. “When I came into office,” he recalled, “we were really at the end of a period of American foreign policy in which a redesign would have been necessary to do no matter who took over.”1 © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_8

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Long before the Nixon administration, the unalterable trends in international life had challenged a full spectrum of Cold War assumptions. Soviet relations with the Communist states had eroded badly, creating problems for the Kremlin that transcended its relations with the Western powers. That the Soviets could sustain a Communist monolith on free consent continued to be an expensive illusion. The decision of Leonid Brezhnev, Khrushchev’s successor, to suppress the Czech government in 1968 verified the will of the Kremlin to impose some measure of conformity across Eastern Europe with force. But if that region remained the Kremlin’s private preserve, it was not monolithic. Hungary, Rumania, and Poland—as well as Finland in the north—were careful not to threaten Soviet security with anti-Soviet policies and ideologies and had long enjoyed varying degrees of independence. For Moscow, the experience of maintaining its hegemony over reluctant and highly nationalistic states had become both costly and unpromising. In China, the Soviets never exercised control and, after the mid-1950s, very little influence. The Beijing regime was fiercely independent in its ideological assertions, its policies, and its behavior. As such, it was not strange that Moscow’s troubles in Eastern Europe and its troubling preoccupation with China encouraged a search for better relations with the United States and Western Europe.2 In the United States, as well, the costs of the Cold War had spiraled beyond any possible returns from the vast expenditure of money and effort. The heavy consumption of resources had attained neither peace nor security—at least not on American terms. Nor was the end of the expenditure in sight. The search for absolute guarantees in a world perceived to be profoundly dangerous had produced military systems of astonishing destructiveness and sophistication. But they had eliminated neither Soviet power nor Soviet hegemony from Eastern Europe. That failure demonstrated that the unprecedented levels of personal and national wellbeing, both in the United States and most Western countries, did not require the restoration of the Versailles order in Europe after all. Across Europe containment had won. As an end, it had stabilized the division of the continent with a vengeance. As a means to an end—the negotiation of a European order based on self-determination— it had failed simply because no Western military structure could undo the Soviet political and territorial gains that flowed from Hitler’s collapse without war. That the United States had coexisted with a world that did not measure up to its precepts of self-determination—with such perennial

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success and no little security—created doubts regarding the wisdom of the search for some more perfect, democratic international order. Such doubts lay at the heart of the Nixon-Kissinger approach to the Soviet Union. Nixon understood that the postwar Pax Americana was exhausted, that the country had reached the outer limits of its capacity to influence the world of nations, and that it had neither the power nor the interests to push back the frontiers of the Communist world. He expressed this sense of limits in his address to the United States Naval Academy in June 1974. “America is no longer a giant,” he reminded his audience, “towering over the rest of the world with seemingly inexhaustible resources and a nuclear monopoly.” The time had come for the country to reassess its responsibilities. Still, any search for accommodation with the changing world relationships required greater pragmatism than Washington had displayed in the past. As Nixon explained, “We have to remember…that unrealistic idealism could be impractical and potentially dangerous. It could tempt us to forgo results that were good because we insisted on results that were perfect.”

Nixon’s Steps Toward Arms Control and Détente In his first annual report to Congress, prepared during his opening months in office, Nixon acknowledged the essential changes in international relations that required a new approach to foreign policy. Western Europe and Japan, he noted, “have recovered their economic strength, their political vitality, and their national self-confidence.” No longer were Third World nations dependent on the United States for their security. “Once many feared,” he continued, “that they would become simply a battleground of Cold War rivalry and fertile ground for Communist penetration. But this fear misjudged their pride in their national identities and their determination to preserve their newly won sovereignty.” Nationalism, the new president admitted, had shattered the unity of international communism. Finally, the revolution in military technology had eliminated the possibility of gain in a nuclear exchange, even for those who launched the first strike.3 Such notions regarding the global impositions on the Cold War, long in circulation, now commanded Washington’s attention. Weapons of mass destruction—biological, chemical, and nuclear—also figured prominently in Washington’s early diplomatic maneuvering. The United States and its Western allies found abolishing chemical weapons a difficult challenge, in part because they did not wish to give up the option

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of these weapons which, unlike biological weapons, were viewed as having military utility. However, on November 25, 1969, President Nixon reaffirmed the U.S.’s chemical warfare “no-first-use” policy that dated from World War II. At the same time, he unilaterally renounced the U.S.’ use of bacteriological or biological weapons, closed all facilities producing these offensive weapons, and ordered existing stockpiles of biological weapons and agents destroyed. At Geneva, the Conference of the Committee on Disarmament had been preparing a convention that would ban production, acquisition or stockpiling of biological weapons, and would require destruction of stocks. In April 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union joined other nations in signing the Biological Convention.4 Meanwhile Nixon had informed the nation, “In light of the recent advances in bilateral and multilateral negotiations involving the two countries, it has been agreed that a meeting [between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union] will take place in Moscow in the latter part of May 1972.” A new era of arms control had begun, one that focused on attempts to limit, and eventually, to reduce strategic nuclear weapons systems—one that lasted until the end of the Cold War. While he agreed that these talks were quite useful, former secretary of state Dean Rusk later depicted the negotiations that would span decades as “history’s longest permanent floating crap game.”5 In looking back to the late 1950s, it was evident that some individuals in Washington were beginning to recognize the need to institutionalize the strategic balance. “For all practical purposes we have in terms of nuclear capabilities reached a point which may be called ‘parity’,” chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Gordon Dean wrote in a preface to Henry Kissinger’s 1957 book on Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. “We have long known that such a time would come. It is now upon us. I do not mean necessarily parity in numbers of large bombs. Numbers become less important when the point is reached where both sides have the capability to annihilate each other.”6 However, it was President Johnson who, in November 1966, formally invited Moscow to join in arms limitation negotiations. Even though they had greatly expanded their strategic forces, the Soviet were concerned about U.S. technological advances in strategic arms systems and wondered when Washington’s deployment of new nuclear weaponry would halt. In late June 1968, Foreign Minister Andre Gromyko suggested that discussions on limiting both offensive and defensive weapons begin on 30 September, hoping to link the talks to America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. Soviet and Warsaw

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pact forces’ intervention in Czechoslovakia on August 21, caused Johnson to postpone the talks.

Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) Diplomacy Soviet leaders were not opposed to enhancing their security through arms limitation negotiations because they believed that this was one way to slow the arms race and reduce the costly burden of improving their security through a continuing nuclear arms buildup. Moreover, the Politburo realized that with the election of Richard Nixon they could not link such talks with Vietnam. On the day of his inauguration, January 20, 1969, Moscow indicated to President Nixon that they were prepared to begin discussions on strategic weaponry. During the 1968 campaign Richard Nixon had insisted he would restore U.S. “military superiority”; shortly after his inauguration, however, he stated that his administration would seek strategic nuclear “sufficiency.”7 Accepting the Soviet invitation, the two delegations launched the strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) on November 17, 1969. However, the two nuclear arsenals differed significantly. The United States had developed technologically sophisticated, accurate missiles with relatively small warheads of one to two megatons, while the Soviets had deployed a number of different types of weapons. Some were similar to American weapons, but others were larger and had a greater “throw-weight”—the total weight that a missile was capable of lifting into a trajectory—that caused difficulties in negotiations for many years. The protracted negotiations had their peculiar, even humorous, sidelights. The Soviet civilian delegates arrived knowing very little about the military capabilities of their own weapons. When a U.S. delegate sought to enlighten them, the senior Soviet general asked him to stop discussing Soviet arms; such matters, the general insisted were not the concern of Soviet civilians, even delegates! Moscow did have rather clearly defined goals that included slowing down the arms race, gaining recognition of Soviet nuclear parity and attempting to retain some military advantages the Soviets believed they had obtained.8 In May 1972, Nixon and Kissinger flew to Moscow for the signing of the agreements produced by the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks with Chairman Brezhnev. According to Thomas Graham, when the American leaders arrived “we had a well-drafted complete treaty limiting ABM systems, and a loosely drafted and incomplete agreement limiting strategic offensive

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systems….” Adding to the confusion [was] that in working out the final deals on the Interim Agreement, Nixon and Kissinger often met alone with Brezhnev and his aides, not even accompanied by a U.S. interpreter who could have verified translations and made notes.9 Nevertheless, at the Moscow Summit three pacts were signed consisting of an Interim Agreement (SALT I, 1972–1977) on some strategic systems, the Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and a political “Basic Principles” accord. SALT I’s limits on strategic systems were actually higher than each party currently possessed; but ceilings restricted some future deployments. The ABM Treaty limited each nation to two defensive missile sites, subsequently reduced to a single location. Under development by the United States since 1967 but ignored in the discussions were multiple independently reentry vehicles (MIRVs). A single missile (or “bus”) could carry aloft two or more of these “vehicles” with each of them containing warheads and each capable of striking different targets. Delegates might have halted programs during these SALT I negotiations, but the Pentagon and congressional critics warned Kissinger “don’t come back with a MIRV ban.”10 Three years later, when Moscow deployed their MIRVs, the Pentagon’s shortsighted insistence on a temporary advantage resulted in the greatly impaired strategic stability as each side’s ICBMs had become vulnerable. The MIRVed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) made preemptive strikes appear a more promising choice in a crisis situation. The “Basic Principles of Relations” agreement, initiated by the Kremlin and largely ignored by American leadership, might have substantially reduced tensions between the superpowers if the pact had been better defined and realistically explained to the American public. While Nixon and Kissinger sought a “linkage” between arms control and the resolution of Third World issues, Moscow thought that this pact could provide the basis for superpower cooperation in resolving basic differences. Thus, Soviet officials considered it “an important political declaration” that they wished, as Ambassador Dobrynin recalled, would be the basis of a “new political process of détente in our relations.” Moscow hoped the agreement would recognize the Soviet doctrine of peaceful coexistence (or détente) and acknowledge the “principle of equality as a basis for the security of both countries.” Failure to develop détente’s boundaries and to gain public acceptance for it would doom the idea.11 That the two powers’ shared mutuality of interests at the Moscow summit received affirmation, at least in part, in the cordiality that characterized both the private and the formal exchanges between Nixon

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and Brezhnev. Statesmen and journalists alike heralded the meeting as a milestone in the history of postwar American–Soviet relations. If Nixon and Kissinger viewed the pacts as significant accomplishments, however, the Defense Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff insisted on pursuing new strategic weapons systems—including the Trident submarine, ABM deployments, a submarine-launched cruise missile, and multiple independently targeted warheads—before granting their approval. Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, along with a former delegate to the talks, Paul Nitze, worried about the Soviet’s retention of 308 heavy ICBMs, which conceivably could be fitted to carry forty MIRVed warheads each. Jackson insisted on an amendment that any future treaty “not limit the U.S. to levels of intercontinental strategic forces inferior to the limits for the Soviet Union,” thereby launching a search for a new “yardstick” that would have a dampening effect on subsequent negotiations. Nixon and Brezhnev opened the Washington summit in June 1973 with additional pledges to build world peace. During two days in Washington, they signed four agreements for cooperation in oceanography, transportation, cultural exchange, and agriculture. The two leaders then retired to Camp David, Maryland, to focus on nuclear disarmament and troop reductions in Central Europe. Back in Washington, they signed additional pacts. One required the two countries to work together when any third country endangered the peace. They regarded their subsequent agreement to avoid nuclear war as the key to their achievements. Later the two leaders flew to the Nixon home at San Clemente, California. They terminated their working sessions by completing a twenty-page communiqué calling for further détente between their two countries.12 Despite such gains, the 1973 summit exposed the ambiguities in East–West relations. Both Washington and Moscow understood the risks and costs of their perennial disagreements and the advantages of a stable relationship. But the Soviets could not escape their ideological past and the limits it placed on their diplomacy. Nor could the Nixon administration satisfy those inside and outside the beltway who believed the Soviet threat too immediate and pervading to permit any lasting agreements or relaxation of tension.

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Nixon and Nuclear Diplomacy with Europe Having focused on U.S.–Soviet relations during his first two years in office, Nixon recognized the imperative to reaffirm American ties with its European allies. Changed conditions seemed to require a new blueprint for North Atlantic relations. Western Europe’s prodigious economic revival, as well as the movement toward European unification, had eliminated Atlantic cooperation as an American enterprise. Europe had long pursued policies divorced from, and often at odds with, those of the United States. France’s de Gaulle had asserted repeatedly that Europe should pursue its own interests, which assuredly would diverge more and more from those of the United States. By 1972, the extensive Soviet military buildup following the Cuban missile crisis had shifted the East–West strategic balance from the U.S. preponderance to near equality. For Kissinger, this change reduced the credibility of the American deterrent and required some redefinition of Western Europe’s security needs. He argued that the more reassuring international environment, in diminishing the danger of nuclear attack, placed a premium on flexible response with its greater demands on conventional preparedness. Still, Kissinger complained that these new strategic requirements prompted no response in Europe at all.13 Even in economic matters, Europe seemed disinterested in American concerns, especially when the Common Market adopted trade policies disadvantageous to the United States. The growing network of commercial ties between the European Community and other nations of Europe and the Mediterranean seemed to endanger U.S. markets even further.14 To meet these political, military, and economic challenges, Nixon declared 1973 “The Year of Europe.” Trouble began early. In February, British Prime Minister Edward Heath informed U.S. officials at Camp David that Britain had no interest in revitalizing the Atlantic relationship. He dismissed Nixon’s appeal for British-American study groups to address the problems of defense and trans-Atlantic economic ties.15 West Germany’s Willy Brandt saw Europe’s improving future less in stronger allied relations than in German reunification and better associations with Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. Brandt’s chief aide, Egan Barr, agreed that West Germany’s safety lay, not in stronger defenses, but in détente with the Soviet Union.16 Kissinger met these continuing broadsides from Europe with his “Year of Europe” speech at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on April 23. He recounted the adverse impact of changes in Europe

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and other areas of the world on Atlantic unity. He assured Europe of the U.S. commitment to its defense, asking in exchange that each ally share fairly “the common effort for the common defense.” Europe’s response to the speech was predictably ambiguous and not reassuring. Europeans ignored Nixon’s appeal for a revitalized trans-Atlantic partnership in his Foreign Policy Report of May 1973.17 By year’s end Nixon had failed totally in his approach to France. Kissinger passed final judgment on the “Year of Europe” in his address of December 12, before the Society of Pilgrims in London. “On both sides of the Atlantic,” he declared, “we are faced with the anomalous—and dangerous—situation in which the public mind identifies foreign policy success increasingly with relations with adversaries while relations with allies seem to be characterized by bickering and drift.”18 Following the failed “Year of Europe,” U.S. relations with Western Europe—and Japan—remained unsatisfactory. With such countries the ties of interest were strong, the existing relations intricate. Still, for Kissinger, U.S. relations with the Soviet Union remained far more challenging and essential than satisfactory communications with Britain, France, Germany, and Japan. Washington’s unresolved differences with Europe were too complex and unpromising to permit any startling diplomatic triumphs. Kissinger’s personal style, enhanced by a marked arrogance in his relations with those who could not injure him or his policies, permitted him alternately to ignore and imperil traditional American ties with the Western powers or Japan. The secretary criticized Europe’s leaders publicly when they acted without consulting Washington in advance. At the same time, European leaders complained that he did not consult them on issues that affected their region. Peter Jenkins of the Manchester Guardian wrote that Kissinger “regards Europe as he regards the State Department—as an adjunct to his personal diplomacy, to be seen and not heard.”19 Europe demonstrated its divergent interests and independence when it refused to cooperate with the American effort to supply the Israelis during the Yom Kippur War. Kissinger attributed the need for speed and secrecy to the seriousness of the international crisis, yet it seemed illogical for Washington to operate secretly and unilaterally in a situation, proclaimed dangerous, without consulting its most important allies. Observers condemned the unilateralism in U.S. behavior toward the major powers of Europe.20 Kissinger’s shocks to Japan were equally notorious. He failed to inform Tokyo of either the new approaches to China or basic American commercial and monetary decisions that affected Japan.

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The Demise of Nixon and the Arrival of President Ford Simultaneously with the collapse of U.S. policy in Vietnam and the resurrection of unresolved challenges in the Middle East and Europe, the great expectations for détente with the Soviet Union began to fade. Throughout the spring of 1974, the forthcoming third summit, again in Moscow and scheduled for June 27, loomed as the critical test. Past agreements had not brought any measurable gains for human rights in the U.S.S.R. or any relaxation of the curbs on Jewish emigration. In 1972, Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington took up the cause of the Soviet Jews. By 1974, he had tied his amendment for the abolition of Soviet emigration restrictions to the administration’s trade bill with its pledge of most-favored-nation (MFN) status for the Soviet Union. So overwhelming was Jackson’s support among both human rights activists and opponents of détente that Kissinger could not negotiate modifications in the Jackson amendment sufficient to save MFN.21 Even as Nixon left for the Moscow summit, Jackson announced that he would submit new conditions on trade. This eliminated the issue from the summit agenda. At the same time, Jackson, armed with information from the Pentagon, accused the Soviets of violating Nixon-Kissinger’s 1972 SALT I agreement. The charges, even if unproven, were sufficient to curtail any new arms negotiations in Moscow. Most available agreements had already been signed at the two previous summits. The domestic constraints on Nixon’s diplomatic maneuverability merely assured a stalemate at Moscow. Of course, on August 9, 1974, facing almost certain impeachment relating to the Watergate scandal, Richard M. Nixon became the first president to resign from office. After Nixon’s resignation, President Ford and Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev met at Vladivostok in November 1974 in an attempt to keep the SALT process in motion. They signed a non-legally binding “agreement in principle” which listed agreed to objectives—each side should be limited to 2,400 ICBMs, SLBMs, and long-range bombers, of which 1,320 could have MIRVed warheads. The Soviets agreed to “equal aggregates” or parity; but it allowed them to continue their MIRVing and to keep their heavier ICBMs. Individuals on both sides were unhappy with the terms. Some Americans complained at the lack of reductions because the ceilings were set so high that both nations would have to build additional weapons to meet them. Others, such as Senator Jackson, were

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critical because the Soviets could protect their heavy ICBMs which could carry far more MIRVs than American missiles. Meanwhile, the United States continued increasing the accuracy of their missiles, pursuing a larger ICBM known as the “MX,” and developing a sophisticated warhead, MARV (maneuverable reentry vehicle), which greatly increased the problems of a missile defense system—none of which pleased officials in Moscow. In 1976, Kissinger approached a SALT II treaty, building on the Vladivostok accords of November 1974, but became sidetracked by the presidential primary contest between Ford and California Governor Ronald Reagan. Despite Ford’s boast in March 1976 that “in my presidency, I have proposed the two largest peacetime defense budgets in American history,” Reagan and other conservative critics charged that the United States was becoming a second-rate power. “Under Kissinger and Ford,” Reagan charged during a primary campaign visit to Florida, “this nation has become Number Two in a world where it is dangerous— if not fatal—to be second best. All I can see is what other nations the world oversee: collapse of the American will and the retreat of American power.” His experiences during the 1976 Republican presidential primaries did not leave Ford with a high opinion of Reagan whom he considered a “superficial, disengaged, intellectually lazy showman who didn’t do his homework and clung to a naïve, unrealistic and essentially dangerous world view.”22 Stung by Reagan’s criticisms and out of deference to Pentagon hardliners and their congressional allies, President Ford had backed away from a SALT II agreement. Negotiating the treaty, consequently, fell to the Carter administration. After reviewing the Vladivostok agreement, Carter officials found that the accord established numerical ceilings, even on MIRVed missiles, but that the ceilings were so high that both countries would have required additional weapons to reach them. Moreover, the Vladivostok formula avoided consensus on the weapons to be included in the count. Vice President Walter Mondale summed up the deal: “Kissinger says he put a cap on the arms race at Vladivostok. Well he did, but the cap was fifteen feet over the head. The Vladivostok agreement was basically a matter of taking the force levels of the two sides, adding fifteen percent, and stapling them together. It was certainly not real arms control.”23 During a European trip in late summer 1975, President Ford visited Finland to sign the initial product of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)—the Helsinki Final Act. This document

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was the result of two years of negotiations involving thirty-three European nations that formed three basic groups: NATO, the Warsaw Pact Organization, and the loosely organized neutral and unaligned states. Despite his claims in his Years of Renewal, in the beginning Kissinger showed little interest in the proceedings. He apparently saw it as a “loser for the West” and summed up his opinion in a quip at a December 1974 national security staff meeting: “They can write it in Swahili for all I care.” The initial product emerging from the CSCE was a political, not legally binding, document. Rather, it consisted of three basic parts (or “baskets”) dealing with: (1) Security in Europe; (2) Cooperation in the Fields of Economics, Science and Technology, and the Environment; and (3) Cooperation in Humanitarian and Other Fields. Basket One’s formal acknowledgment of the Warsaw Pact by the West constituted a virtual recognition of the Soviet’s Eastern European empire, Basket Two permitted commercial relations between East and West, and Basket Three provided for a free flow of information and visitations. If Moscow officials were delighted to finally obtain the West’s recognition of the Soviet Union’s dominate position in Eastern Europe, they were much concerned, as they should have been, with the relaxation of restrictions on the free flow of information and movement. In his memoirs, the CIA’s Robert Gates found mostly controversy, and little positive, in the Helsinki Final Act: “In the United States, especially, East European émigrés and conservatives more generally saw this as a one-sided concession by the West to keep détente alive. It was seen as a sellout of Eastern Europe by Ford. Nearly everyone saw Basket III, on human rights, as hortatory window dressing, a paper exercise of no consequence.” Predictably, there was little enthusiasm for the Helsinki pact among certain politicians. Senator Jackson accused the president of “taking us backward, not forward, in the search for genuine peace” and Governor Reagan, gearing up for the new presidential primaries, declared: “I am against it [the Helsinki pact], and I think all Americans should be against it.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal pleaded, “Jerry, don’t go” to Helsinki. The New York Times concluded the trip to be “misguided and empty.” Despite these dismissive attitudes, the Helsinki Final Act would play a major role in opening the closed Soviet satellites and, in turn, spurring their sense of nationalism and their desire to free themselves from Moscow’s domination. The United States lost little in legitimizing Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe in the 1975 Helsinki accords, but it eventually received much in exchange. “If it can be said there was one point when the Soviet empire began to crack,” William Hyland later wrote, “it was at Helsinki.”24

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Some analysts and observers always denied the possibility of any meaningful détente with the Soviet Union. They argued that the U.S.S.R. had never ceased to be a revolutionary power. Anti-Soviet Harvard historian Richard Pipes spoke for many when he observed that the “Soviet aim is world hegemony.” In February 1976, Paul Nitze and Charles Burton Marshall warned the nation that the profound disagreements on the meaning of peace demanded, not further efforts at détente, but a strategic approach to Soviet–American relations. “Détente has brought changes,” they acknowledged, “but their sum amounts to modification and not mutation of relationships. The main change involves tone of discourse. In the U.S. version, détente dwells on concord, however slight, and soft-pedals differences, however basic.”25 Some critics wondered why the administration would even pursue reduced tensions with a dangerous antagonist. “Tension is, after all,” wrote Warren Nutter, “the natural reaction to a perceived threat, and it alerts and stimulates the will to resist.” What the country required, he concluded, was the restoration of “a healthy state of alert on appreciation of the external dangers threatening the Western way of life, and a sense of confidence that they can be overcome.” The pact to eliminate nuclear war, many feared, merely encouraged Soviet expansionist ventures throughout the Third World. Equally troubling was Soviet naval expansion which transformed the U.S.S.R. into a genuine global power.26 Those who shared this skeptical view of détente could discover no genuine gains from the effort. Kissinger defended the Nixon administration’s search for détente, however limited its demonstrable successes. He countered, with considerable success, the charges that the administration gave too much away. He reminded the nation, in March 1976, that the capacity of both superpowers to devastate the world in a few hours compelled the U.S. government to guard its relations with the Kremlin. None of the critics, he complained, was specific in enumerating Soviet gains and American losses emanating from the administration’s diplomacy with the Kremlin. Nor did any of them suggest a precise alternative to administration policy. At the end, détente became another name for competitive coexistence, with all the limited expectations that the term implied. During the 1976 presidential campaign the Republican Party eliminated détente as a proper national objective. Actually, détente’s failure lay in the program’s over-expectation of what Western power and ingenuity might achieve through diplomacy alone. Ultimately, it asked the Kremlin to cooperate in the creation of

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an international environment that conformed to U.S. interests and ideals. In its program of rewards and punishments, neither very effective, the administration always anticipated arrangements with the Soviet Union that embraced the acceptance of American rules. Kissinger made clear at the outset that détente rested on the imperative that the U.S.S.R. alter no situation to its advantage; every agreement would preserve U.S. primacy. That détente scored any successes at all measured the willingness of the Kremlin to accept some conditions favorable to the West as the price of transforming U.S.–Soviet relations, especially in Europe, toward increased relaxation, cooperation, and trade. Outside Europe, Washington never possessed the power to influence Soviet policies to its advantage. Here the U.S. defense of the status quo, often binding the United States to unpromising regimes and objectives, had become expensive and divisive. Détente held out the promise that peaceful incentives would encourage the Kremlin to terminate its assistance to revolutionary movements, and thereby resolve Washington’s uniquely troublesome challenge of dealing with Third World upheavals. Kissinger would eliminate all regional tensions attributable to Communist expansionism through Soviet self-containment. Such hopes for détente imposed far greater restraints on Soviet than on American behavior, compelling the Kremlin to consider whether gains in the form of American attitudes and cooperation were sufficient to render the arrangement worthwhile.27 Ultimately, the United States discovered that it could not prevent unwanted Soviet activities in Africa, the Middle East, or Southeast Asia. Still, for those who took the linkage seriously, détente ruled out U.S. acceptance of any apparent expansion of Soviet influence in the Afro-Asian world. That rejection was apparent, not in confrontations with the Kremlin over the flow of military supplies or the presence of Soviet advisers and Cuban mercenaries, especially in Africa, but in the administration’s condemnation of the recipients of Soviet and Cuban aid. Kissinger left no doubt that he favored the prompt and effective use of force to counter Soviet gains, but he could never explain how Soviet-Cuban aid endangered U.S. security interests in Africa. Congress, conditioned by Vietnam against further Third World interventions, terminated the Ford administration’s burgeoning effort of 1975 to intervene in Angola where the Soviets, using Cuban mercenaries, backed the victorious faction struggling for control of that country. Despite the widespread domestic opposition to U.S. involvement in African affairs, Kissinger warned the Kremlin that the United States would not accept

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any further Angolan-style Soviet interventions.28 However severe détente’s limitations, the Nixon–Kissinger experience with the U.S.S.R. faced the condemnation of those who believed that it attempted too little and those who feared that it sought too much. Antoly Dobrynin, the long-time Soviet ambassador to Washington, was also concerned that Moscow’s consistent attempt to put a policy of détente in place was in jeopardy. “Our foreign policy was unreasonably dominated by ideology,” Dobrynin lamented in his memoirs, “and this produced continued confrontation especially through our involvement in regional conflicts ‘to perform our international duty to other peoples’…. This was complicated by Soviet leadership’s great-power aspirations and fraught with inevitably, but unnecessary, conflicts with the United States, though our diplomacy for years was trying to establish at least a minimum of trust between our two countries.” He faulted Soviet policies and actions in Cuba and then during the Ford years, in Africa that were “undermining the foundations of détente even as we tried to build them.”29

Conclusion The simultaneous search of the Nixon–Ford years for agreement with the Kremlin and support of all regimes reputedly anti-Communist, led to ever-increasing charges of amorality in the U.S. behavior. More than their predecessors, Nixon and Kissinger were willing to accept the changes wrought by the Soviet victories of 1944 and 1945, as well as the subsequent Communist triumph in China. They refused to criticize the Kremlin for its repression of Eastern Europe and its refusal to liberalize the Soviet political system. Much of the administration’s approval, therefore, hinged on its lack of public concern for human rights inside the Soviet bloc, although it was Kissinger’s conviction, often expressed, that he could serve those rights more effectively with policies aimed at relaxation rather than tension. Countless Americans, tired of Washington’s former Cold War posture, which seemed to achieve so little, agreed. For them Kissinger’s diplomacy was credible and praiseworthy. His critics, however, rejected his claims that the relaxation of international tension was more important than the pursuit of human rights, whether the pursuit brought results or not. Much of the criticism of Kissinger’s pragmatism centered less on his dealings with major powers and regions, where U.S. interests in peace

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and security loomed large, than on those with minor and more remote states where the acceptance of undemocratic and inhumane conditions, without any show of displeasure, seemed both cynical and unnecessary. Even as Washington boasted of gains for détente in achieving a higher degree of international stability, it continued, with extensive programs of economic and military aid, to underwrite its allegiance to a wide variety of repressive governments, some of which used torture to eliminate their opponents. Under the assumption that U.S. security interests demanded the support of all avowedly anti-Communist regimes, the United States continued to furnish military aid to countries whose armies had no useful purpose except to keep the recipients in power.30 In its deep concern for global defense against communism in all its forms, the Nixon–Ford administration, with few exceptions, exerted no pressure toward freedom and humaneness in the regimes that it supported. Kissinger remained silent on the abuses perpetrated by such governments. He had explained in July 1974 that the United States continued to authorize economic and military assistance for the South Korean government, despite its declining reputation for humaneness and justice, because “where we believe the national interest is at stake, we proceed even when we do not approve.” Having authorized the Central Intelligence Agency $8 million to “destabilize” the Allende government of Chile, the United States supported the new military regime of Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, regarded one of the most repressive in the world, with by far the largest American aid program in South America.31 The vast bulk of food aid went not to desperately needy countries, but to a few military-political clients such as South Vietnam, Thailand, Iran, Israel, and Egypt.32 Despite the Nixon Doctrine’s promise of retrenchment everywhere, the United States, because of its lingering globalism, remained hostage to weak governments that could not sustain themselves without American aid. For many analysts and Kissinger watchers, the secretary’s elusive successes and declining prestige after 1974 resulted less from his personal style and idiosyncrasies than from conditions over which he had no control. Throughout Kissinger’s troubling encounters after 1974, the American people generally remained content with him and his diplomacy.33 Kissinger’s contribution had been unique. He was the first secretary of state in three generations to think and act in political rather than judicial terms. Unlike his predecessors, reaching back to William Jennings Bryan, he did not search for rightness and wrongness in the

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policies of other countries. Even after his disappointing failure in the Middle East during March 1975, he implored the American people not to pass judgment on the contestants. He judged countries and dealt with them on the basis of interests and power. What colored his judgment of both U.S. and Soviet interests and power was the continuing Cold War environment in which he operated. But his political approach to diplomacy and the arrangements that it permitted brought the widespread approval that he received. What was astonishing in this acceptance of Kissinger’s basically pragmatic, amoral approach was the fact that it won the plaudits of the same population that had lauded the largely moralistic and legalistic policies of his predecessors. Perhaps the American people had developed some appreciation of the cost of policies that produced moral judgments and little else. They were ready for some measurable diplomatic achievements, and were prepared to praise them whether they were based on pragmatism or not. Kissinger’s chief critics were those of the center and left who believed that his policies lacked humaneness, and those of the right who believed that they failed to maintain the necessary tensions in U.S.–Soviet relations. By late autumn of 1975 the domestic pressures on Kissinger began to mount. One congressional committee cited him for contempt because of his refusal to deliver subpoenaed State Department documents; another embarrassed him with questions about his role in covert U.S. operations in Chile. Clearly, Kissinger’s influence in the White House had declined and with it his image as Washington’s dominant personality. No longer did U.S. achievements abroad, both real and imagined, sustain his standing as a diplomat. President Ford’s trip to China in late November 1975 achieved little, the peace campaign in the Middle East was stalled, and negotiations with the U.S.S.R. over strategic arms limitation made little progress and clouded the future of U.S.–Soviet summitry.34

Notes 1. Interview with Pierre Salinger of L’Express (France), April 12, 1975, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Media Services; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America And The Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010).

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2. Henry Kissinger, White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979), 114– 25. 3. Richard Nixon, U.S. Foreign Policy for the 1970s: A New Strategy for Peace, Report to Congress, February 18, 1970 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1970), 2–3; Seyom Brown, The Crisis of Power: An Interpretation of United States Foreign Policy During the Kissinger Years (New York, 1979), 4–5. 4. Charles C. Flowerree, “Chemical and Biological Weapons and Arms Control,” Richard Dean Burns, Encyclopedia of Arms Control and Disarmament, 3 vols. (New York: Scribners, 1992), II: 1005, also see Thomas Graham, Jr. Disarmament Sketches: Three Decades of Arms Control and International Law (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), Ch. 2. 5. See “The President’s News Conference,” October 12, 1971, Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project, https://www.presidency.ucsb. edu/ws/?pid=3736. Strobe Talbott, Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 19. 6. Quoted in Gerard C. Smith, Doubletalk: The Story of SALT I (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980), 16. 7. Aleksandr’ G. Savel’yev and Nikolay N. Detinov, The Big Five: Arms Control Decision-Making in the Soviet Union (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995), 7–8; Raymond L. Garthoff, A Journey Through the Cold War: A Memoir of Containment and Coexistence (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2001), 206; “President’s News Conference,” January 27, 1969, Woolley and Peters, The American Presidency Project: https://www. presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=1942. 8. Savel’yev and Detinov, The Big Five, 9. 9. Thomas Graham, Jr., Disarmament Sketches: Three Decades of Arms Control and International Law (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 44. 10. Graham, Disarmament Sketches, 53–54. 11. Kissinger, White House Years, 1132, 1150–51; Anatoly Dobrynin, In Confidence: Moscow’s Ambassador to America’s Six Cold War Presidents (New York; Random House, 1995), 251–52. 12. John Newhouse, Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1973), 262–63. 13. Kissinger, White House Years, 391–402. 14. Ibid., 425–29, 1273–74. 15. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval (Boston: Little, Brown, 1982), 142. 16. Ibid., 146–47. 17. Richard N. Nixon, Third Annual Report to the Congress on the United States’ Foreign Policy, February 9, 1972. 18. Kissinger, “Energy: European Problems,” Vital Speeches of the Day 40:6 (January 1, 1974): 166.

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19. See Kraft in The Washington Post, May 27, 1973; Chalmers M. Roberts in Ibid., August 26, 1973; Reston in The New York Times, February 28, 1974. 20. Kenneth Thompson in Worldview 17 (July 1974): 61. 21. Robert G. Kaufman, Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000), 280–83. 22. Ford, A Time to Heal, 373; Thomas M. DeFrank, Write It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversation With Gerald R. Ford (New York: Putnam’s Sons, 2007). 23. Ford quoted in James E. Goodby, At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb (Lanham, DE: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), 104; Mondale in Strobe Talbott, Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 32–37, 52. 24. John Fry, The Helsinki Process: Negotiating Security and Cooperation in Europe (Washington, DC: National Defense University Press, 1993): Jussi M Haminäki, “‘Dr. Kissinger’ or ‘Mr. Kissinger’? Kissingerology, Thirty Years and Counting,” Diplomatic History 27:5 (2003): 654; Ford, A Time to Heal, 300–301; William G. Hyland, Mortal Rivals (New York: Random House, 1982), 128; Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), 86. 25. Paul Nitze and Charles Burton Marshall in The New York Times. February 8, 1976. 26. Nutter quoted by Marder in the Philadelphia Inquirer, October 12, 1975. 27. Kissinger, Years of Renewal, 93–103; Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation, 326–35. 28. Kissinger, Years of Renewal, 914–15, 921; for an American and Soviet perspective on Angola, see Garthoff, Détente and Confrontation, 574–88. 29. Dobrynin, In Confidence, 472. 30. See Lorrin Rosenbaum, “Government by Torture,” Worldview 18 (April 1975): 21–27. Assistant Secretary Philip C. Habib insisted in June 1975 that the U.S. government was concerned with human rights. See news release, June 24, 1975, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Media Services. 31. The Washington Post, May 18, 1975. 32. See Kissinger’s interview with Bill Moyers in Worldview 18 (March 1975): 37–45. 33. For the widespread approval of Kissinger’s role see The Washington Post, June 29, 1975; U.S. News & World Report (October 6, 1975): 12. 34. For a review of Kissinger’s declining prestige and popularity see The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 1975; Newsweek (December 8, 1975): 36– 37.

CHAPTER 9

Carter’s Lost Opportunity

Journalists who had followed James Earl (Jimmy) Carter’s rise from Georgia politics to the White House in 1977 assumed that he would concentrate on the immediate issues of inflation and unemployment. They discovered soon enough, however, that the new president had assembled a full spectrum of foreign policy objectives designed to achieve success where presumably his predecessors had failed. To Carter, the Nixon-Kissinger-Ford policies had divided the country and diminished the presidency by employing tactics abroad divorced from the nation’s values. That approached had failed, demonstrated most graphically by the intellectual and moral poverty of the long U.S. engagement in Vietnam.1 The nation’s perennial anticommunism had caused it to lose sight of the American mission. Convinced that previous administrations had exaggerated the Communist threat, he promised more relaxed, flexible, and rewarding relations with the U.S.S.R., anchored to the pursuit of U.S.Soviet cooperation on a wide range of issues, including a SALT II treaty on arms control. Asian peace and security, believed Carter, required a more constructive Sino-American relationship. To further his separation from past concerns with Cold War issues, Carter, as a member of the Trilateral Commission, accepted the need for greater unity in the Trilateral world of North America, Western Europe,

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and Japan. David Rockefeller had established the Trilateral Commission in 1973 in response to the growing fear among leaders of the advanced countries that economic nationalism endangered the vital unity and strength of the Western World. For Trilateralists, interdependence would more assuredly promote the economic and security interests of the Trilateral bloc than would the pursuit of national interests as defined by the Cold Warriors.2 In their preference for the cultivation of the Trilateral world, they rejected totally Kissinger’s emphasis on U.S.-Soviet relations. For example, the Commission’s Executive Committee issued this warning in December 1974, “The international system is undergoing a drastic transformation through a series of crises. Worldwide inflation reflects, transmits and magnifies the tensions of many societies, while the difficulties produced by the abrupt change in oil prices are accompanied by the entry of major new participants onto the world scene.”3 With ten million American jobs dependent on exports, the promotion of the international economy appeared vital for the country’s welfare and security. Trilateralism promised both economic growth and the recovery of America’s former hegemony in the non-Communist world.

Broadening the Palette Beyond his concern for improved relations with the world’s major states, the new president, unlike Nixon and Kissinger, hoped to address the problems and possibilities of the Third World states. Additionally, Carter repeatedly announced his determination to base his policies on Americans values, especially human rights.4 Such policies, Carter declared, required new faces and new ideas. “We are not going to get changes,” he acknowledged, “by simply shifting around the same group of insiders, the same tired old rhetoric, the same unkept promises…. The insiders have had their chances, and they have not delivered.”5 Yet, Carter’s actual appointees comprised a phalanx of familiar personalities tied to the Eastern Establishment, including Yale Law School graduate and former Pentagon official, Cyrus Vance, as secretary of state, and Columbia University’s Zbigniew Brzezinski as national security advisor. Carter’s broad goals envisioned striving for peace, prosperity, and human welfare, albeit at the price of incoherence.6 In its promise of a better world, it unfortunately paid scant attention to the question of means. For the new president, human rights was ideally suited to rebuild both the country’s global leadership and the primacy of the White House in the

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areas of external affairs.7 The issue of human rights would re-establish the nation’s global status as the world’s leading proponent of human welfare and, in the words of vice president Walter Mondale, leave the American people “feeling good.” Domestically, the president hoped to construct the necessary national consensus around those who objected to Nixon and Kissinger’s disregard for the repressive behavior of certain countries aligned with the United States, and those who believed that they had failed to defend the interests of the United States in their search for détente with the U.S.S.R. Not only would the pursuit of human rights permit the president to provide a moral tone for U.S. relations abroad, but also provide the issue for admonishing the Soviet Union for its iniquities without a heavy expenditure of money nor an intricate, risk-laden foreign policy.

Working Toward Normalization with China China’s Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai shared Washington’s desire to strength U.S.–Chinese relations, as a deterrent to Soviet armed expansion into Asia. The schism between Beijing and Moscow as well as the profound mutual insecurities that it generated, began in the late 1950s; thereafter, the gap between the two countries on almost every foreign policy issue continued to widen. Although Europe was Moscow’s major concern, Chinese leaders were troubled by the presence of 450,000 Soviet soldiers along the Sino-Soviet frontier. Moscow, moreover, had acquired naval bases along the Indian and Southeast Asian littoral.8 Not without reason, China applauded Washington’s efforts to strength NATO with deployment of theater nuclear weapons in Europe. Beijing sustained its strong presence in North Korea to dissuade that country from again invading the South, thereby unleashing another damaging confrontation with the United States.9 Carter approached the quest for normalization with caution. He understood that any profitable arrangement with China would force him to run the gauntlet of the pro-Taipei lobby in Congress and the press. For Carter and Vance, moreover, it was essential that the approach to China avoid any irritation of Moscow that might inhibit future negotiations. As Vance advised the president on April 5, 1977, “The Chinese must…be made to understand that we do not perceive our relations with them as one-dimensional, but that we also look at our relationship in the context of key bilateral and international issues.”10 In August, Vance

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flew to Beijing to advance the effort at normalization; however, he found Beijing’s conditions remained in place: Washington’s abrogation of its Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan, the severance of official U.S. relations with the Republic of China, and the withdrawal of all American military personnel from the island.11 Still the political changes within China were hopeful. The moderate Deng Xiaoping, China’s new vice premier emerged that summer as the pivotal figure in opening the path to normalization. In May 1978, President Carter sent Brzezinski to Beijing, instructing him to assure Chinese leaders that the Soviet Union remained in a competitive relationship with the United States. That relationship, he added, was “enduring, deep seated, and rooted in different traditions, history, outlook, interests, and geographical priorities. Hence the competition would not be terminated quickly.” Brzezinski, unlike Vance, had long speculated that closer U.S.–China ties might deter Soviet aggressiveness in Asia. In Beijing, Brzezinski reminded the Chinese that the Shanghai Communiqué presumed shared concerns based on long-term strategic views of Asia. “The United States,” he assured his listeners, “does not view its relationship with China as a tactical expedient. We recognize and share China’s resolve to resist the efforts of any nation which seeks to establish global or regional hegemony.” Amid provocative remarks concerning the Kremlin’s international behavior, Brzezinski assured Chinese officials that the United States was fully committed to the normalization of relations.12 Deng Xiaoping and his associates accepted Brzezinski’s assurances and agreed to terminate their public criticism of the United States. In turn, Carter dropped the sale of F-4 fighters to Taiwan and, in November, instructed Woodcock to present his final proposals to Beijing. The United States, the president concluded, would maintain its defense agreement with Taiwan for another year, continue some arms sales thereafter, and require Chinese guarantees for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue. Deng accepted Carter’s first proposal, balked at the second, and rejected the third. For Carter, Deng’s response was satisfactory enough. On December 15, 1978, the president announced to the nation that the United States, in recognizing the Peoples Republic of China as that country’s only government, was acknowledging a simple reality. Washington terminated the Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan and removed the remaining U.S. military advisors from the island. The new Sino-American

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relationship received additional impetus from agreements for scientific exchanges and limited sales of U.S. military equipment.13 Carter’s concessions to China unleashed a storm of protest. On December 22, Senator Goldwater and other Republicans filed an unsuccessful suit in Federal Court, challenging the president’s authority to terminate the 1954 treaty with Taiwan without the approval of Congress. Senator Robert J. Dole of Kansas declared that the United States, in conceding its strategic interest in Taiwan, had gained little in its normalization of relations with the mainland. Nothing could reverse Carter’s decision. Official relations between the United States and the Republic of China ended on January l, 1979. That day Beijing announced unilaterally that it accepted the principle of a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue. Congress, still dissatisfied, responded with the Taiwan Relations Act of March 28, 1979, signed by the president on April 10. The act charged the U.S. government with responsibility to promote the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue and Taiwan’s future security with adequate arms. Predictably, Beijing condemned the Taiwan Relations Act as an infringement on its agreement with the United States. Convinced that his formal recognition of Beijing comprised a major and necessary achievement, Carter ignored the congressional action. Meanwhile, Washington moved to solidify its strategic position in the western Pacific. Vance had long argued that American policy toward China should threaten no one. Brzezinski preferred to play the “China card,” however, exploiting Sino-Soviet tensions to enhance American security. With Brzezinski in command of China policy, Washington assured Beijing of its concern for Chinese security, offering dual-use technology, air defense radars, transport planes, communication, and nonlethal military equipment. Brezhnev caught the message, complaining to Time in January 1979 that “attempts are being made to encourage…with deliveries of modern weapons, material and military technology those who, while heading one of the biggest countries in the world, have openly declared their hostility to the cause of détente, disarmament and stability in the world.”14 By aligning openly with China, the administration lost much of its leverage in both Moscow and Beijing. The United States could not prevent China launching its inglorious, ill-fated invasion of Soviet-allied Vietnam shortly after Deng’s visit to Washington in January 1979.15

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Realigning Relations with Europe President Carter confronted Europe with a program derived largely from his membership in the Trilateral Commission. Brzezinski had summarized the commission’s two major premises: that the United States, under Nixon, had over-emphasized the importance of U.S.-Soviet relations to the detriment of those with Western Europe and Japan. By exploiting its available power sources, the industrial world need not pay Nixon’s price for Soviet cooperation.16 The administration’s Trilateral Commission’s membership included not only the president, Vance, and Brzezinski, but also vice president Walter Mondale, defense secretary Harold Brown, treasury secretary Michael Blumenthal, and arms negotiator Paul C. Warnke, as well as other high-ranking officials in the foreign and military services. Brzezinski explained that the external problems facing the country were so complex “that no single person can structure a response. A team effort is necessary.”17 Carter’s top officials had worked together on European issues over a period of years. They embodied differences and contrasts, in both personality and disposition. Vance, not a seminal thinker, was moderate, gentlemanly, and generally optimistic in his world outlook, as was Warnke and other key members of Carter’s younger foreign policy team. Brzezinski, who had spent an academic career studying the Soviet bloc, was less optimistic on matters of Soviet motives and dependability. As national security adviser, Brzezinski would not re-invent Kissinger’s dominant role, but his nearness to the White House, added to his penchant for originality and readiness to formulate policy positions, rendered him first among equals.18 Conscious of Brzezinski’s bureaucratic advantages, Vance observed, “As long as I can debate my views, I have no problem at all.”19 Only a crisis, some predicted, would reveal who had the power. Carter, during his first week in office, dispatched vice president Mondale to the Trilateral world to outline the administration’s foreign policy intentions. In Brussels on January 23, Mondale assured the NATO allies that the president was deeply concerned about the alliance and was “prepared to consider increased United States investment in NATO’s defense.” The vice president continued on to Bonn, Berlin, Rome, Paris, and Tokyo.20 During a subsequent trip to London, the president urged NATO leaders to widen their economic cooperation, promote freer trade, strengthen the world’s monetary system, and seek ways to avoid nuclear proliferation. Behind Carter’s European policy was always the

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dual purpose of encouraging greater allied defense efforts and reassuring the Europeans of America’s continuing commitment to their defense.21 At the same time Carter rejected Kissinger’s opposition to Eurocommunism. Vance assured French Socialists that the United States regarded the status of the Communist Party in any European country as a matter for the government and people of that country. The Communist parties of Yugoslavia, Italy, France, and Spain, he declared, pursued policies of their own and did not merit the term “Eurocommunism.” What mattered for the United States was its ability to work cooperatively with the countries of Western Europe on matters of mutual concern.22 Consequently, Carter could point to Europe where the Soviet–American competition ceased to have much meaning. Amid his extended pursuit of an arms agreement with Moscow, Carter faced the critical NATO decision on the development and deployment of enhanced radiation (ER) weapons, or neutron bombs. The ER’s destructive force would come, not from its explosion, but from its emission of intense radiation—killing troops without demolishing surrounding structures. Carter questioned the morality of such a weapon (popularly known as the “capitalist” bomb because it left property intact), but asked Congress for stand-by funding while he consulted allies on the weapon’s acceptability. German officials were prepared to deploy such weapons, convinced that they might render a nuclear war more bearable. Other countries were more equivocal. Carter’s top officials subsequently advised him to proceed with the bomb’s development, but by then he, like most European allies, had lost interest.23 Eventually, the German Bundestag approved the bomb’s deployment by a narrow margin; Carter, unimpressed, proceeded to scuttle the whole neutron bomb program. Chancellor Helmuth Schmidt objected, attributing the bomb’s demise to habitual American unilateralism and the president’s, not Europe’s, vacillation.24

Nuclear Diplomacy: SALT II Initially for Carter, the competition between the United States and the U.S.S.R. remained intense, yet the danger of conflict had receded through the years. While he accepted détente as a goal if not as a reality; like Nixon, he reminded the Kremlin that the two powers could not enjoy accommodation in one part of the world and promote conflict elsewhere. He recognized the importance of curtailing the arms race, a phenomenon

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he regarded wasteful, dangerous, and morally deplorable. Indeed, during his campaign for the presidency he unrealistically promised the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals. He pledged a reduction in national defense expenditures as well as arms sales to underdeveloped countries. Yet, on the critical issues of defense and Soviet relations, Carter faced a divided administration. Much earlier members of Carter’s foreign policy team had revealed a full spectrum of convictions regarding the Communist danger. The profound disagreements among his top advisers on the Vietnam War revealed totally antagonist concepts of Soviet power and influence in world affairs. Brzezinski had been a strong prowar advocate, especially during the Vietnam teach-ins. Vance, Brown, and Warnke supported the war as Pentagon officials, but with rapidly declining enthusiasm. The president’s total opposition to the war was expressed by his disbelief in the notion of falling dominoes, while some younger members in the administration had been active war protestors.25 For Vance, the Cold War experience had long discredited the notion that the U.S.S.R. comprised a mortal threat to the non-Soviet world. His chief adviser on Soviet matters, Columbia University’s Marshall Shulman, viewed the Cold War as a receding phenomenon. For him the Kremlin had developed a vested interest in participating constructively in the international community. Except for Brzezinski, who remained suspicious of the Kremlin, Carter’s top advisers had become skeptical of traditional Cold War assumptions.26 Vance and Brzezinski generally agreed on the largely unavoidable, riskfree responses available to them, none of which had much relevance to perceptions of danger. “I would say,” Carter recalled, “that 95 percent of the time, or even more, they were completely harmonious in their policy recommendations.”27 Nothing could deter the president’s determination to pursue arms negotiations with the Soviet Union. The U.S. nuclear arsenal possessed over a million times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. Vance believed that arms negotiations could vastly reduce defense expenditures and guide the two powers toward greater cooperation. Brzezinski favored arms limitations, not to spur cooperation, but to enhance U.S.Soviet stability and limit the Soviet capacity to achieve a competitive advantage.28 Kissinger and Ford had been unable to translate the Vladivostok accords of November 1974 into a SALT II treaty, largely due to Pentagon hawks and congressional opposition. Carter looked unfavorably on Vladivostok’s established numerical ceilings that required the

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building of additional weapons, although he might have achieved an early arms agreement by adhering to the Vladivostok formula. The president preferred deep cuts in the number of strategic weapons, a freeze in the number of missiles with multiple independently targeted warheads, and a moratorium on the development of new missiles.29 In March 1977, Secretary Vance flew to Moscow with two proposals. One option built on the Vladivostok agreement, with a possible reduction of some ten percent on weapons levels. The second, and preferred, proposal offered a major decrease in strategic weapons, protection against first strikes, constraints on testing, a balanced control of conventional weapons, and an agreement on the sale of arms to other countries.30 In promptly rejecting the proposal, Soviet leaders questioned both the substance of Carter’s elaborate formula and the manner in which the administration presented it. They had first learned of Vance’s trip, moreover, through a Carter-Vance news conference and wondered how a public statement could advance such a difficult negotiation as that on nuclear arms limitations. Whether the administration’s verbal support of Soviet dissidents, increased expenditures for Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty or Carter’s accusations of human rights violations influenced the Soviet decision was not clear; however, they undoubtedly clouded the atmosphere in Moscow.31 Through 1977 the two countries continued their negotiations on an arms agreement that centered on Paul Warnke’s version of an acceptable SALT II agreement. Warnke, then also director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, recommended a maximum of 2200–2250 strategic bombers and intercontinental missiles for each side, compelling the U.S.S.R. to reduce its forces. The treaty would impose a level of 1320 on each country’s combined force of independently target reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and aircraft-carrying strategic weapons. Soviet officials were reluctant, however, to negotiate away their strong bargaining posture based on the massive post-1965 Soviet arms buildup.32 U.S. negotiators could not ignore the power of Congress and the press to defeat any arms agreement that failed to uphold their precepts of national security. Vance assured the country, in late October 1977, that both the United States and the Soviet Union desired an agreement based on strategic parity; but, he added, they could not define parity.33 The fundamental asymmetry in the military structures and requirements of the two countries rendered exceedingly formidable the task of measuring precisely what comprised strategic equality. Each side was stronger in some aspects of

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weaponry and recognized the advantages of other systems, but could not determine which of the different classes of weapons was the more effective. What rendered calculations even more difficult was the flow of technological innovation in weaponry and the relative importance of weapons modernization to two different strategic systems. The U.S. emphasized light, but accurate nuclear weapons, including those designed to be launched from submarines; the Soviet Union relied on heavy, landbased ballistic missiles. The geographic situations of the two powers offered a special mixture of strategic advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, the United States had only one enemy, the U.S.S.R., whereas the Soviet Union had China, Europe, both East and West, and the United States. Two competing weapons systems created special problems of measurement. For the Soviets, the major complicating factor was the American air-launched cruise missile, a small, subsonic, low-flying weapon with a range of 1,500 miles, of relatively low cost but of high accuracy. For American negotiators the controversial Soviet bomber, code-named Backfire, was a long-range aircraft; to the Soviets the Backfire was of medium range and therefore properly excluded from all calculations.34 The New York Times, in its editorial of September 18, 1977, posed the fundamental question: “Have the rival strategic forces developed along such divergent paths that real limitation agreements have become both intellectually and politically impossible?” The interim accord on offensive strategic weapons expired on October 3. In the absence of another agreement, both Washington and Moscow continued to respect the 1972 limitations. Warnke, who took arms limitation seriously, explained on November 10 why the objective of arms reduction, based on parity, was worth pursuing. The country, he warned, had the simple choice of continuing the arms race, with the risk of Soviet military supremacy or of controlling competition with arms limitation agreements. The United States, he acknowledged, led the Soviet Union in nuclear warheads, but both countries had far more weapons than targets. Both nations had long ago achieved “over-kill” capacity. The principle of mutual deterrence presumed the continuing non-use of nuclear weapons. Those, however, who believed that the Cold War continued to flourish, distrusted mutual deterrence despite the immensity of the nuclear arsenals. To them the proper objective of arms negotiations was not that of reassuring the enemy of good intentions by striking a balance, but of maintaining an arsenal of weapons capable of deterring and, if necessary, winning a nuclear war.35

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Despite Soviet unease over the Sino-American rapprochement, the SALT II discussions eventually produced an agreement in April 1979 as considerable time was spent correcting the mistakes of the 1972 Interim Agreement. Carter prepared carefully for his June meeting with Brezhnev in Vienna to sign the treaty. The Vienna summit, attended by two thousand reporters, commentators, anchormen, photographers, scriptwriters, and producers, outdid its predecessors as a media event, dwarfing Carter and Brezhnev in the process. On June 18, Carter and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty that sought to limit each superpower to 2250 strategic weapons. The Soviet’s development and deployment of its ICBMs was significantly slowed, while both parties’ number of MIRVs were limited for the first time. In addition to capping the arms race, the agreement included mutual rules, including a ban on telemetry encryption, that greatly aided verification. Although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 9–6 on November 9 to recommend ratification of the SALT II treaty, much opposition to the treaty had developed, especially among Republican Party members. On December 16, a group of 16 senators asked the president to delay the Senate vote on SALT II until after the presidential elections. Carter did not comply with this request, but following the Soviet action in Kabul on December 27, he asked the Senate to delay voting on SALT II. On June 6, 1980, the State Department announced that SALT II and Afghanistan were “inseparable.” Thus, the Senate never voted on the ratification of SALT II. Nevertheless, America and the Soviet Union “remained within the limits prescribed by SALT II” until well into the Reagan administration.36 The treaty reflected mutual interests in arms limitation that far transcended the state of U.S.-Soviet relations or the Carter-Brezhnev display of cordiality. The five-day meeting received mixed reviews in the press. The Wall Street Journal condemned the SALT process, arguing “preoccupation with a dubious arms agreement erodes broader American security interests.” Georgia’s Sam Nunn, the Senate’s leading military expert, declared that the answer to the Soviet military threat lay not in arms limitation but in larger military budgets.37 What troubled the critics was Carter’s pledge to abide by SALT II even if the Senate rejected it. For Europeans, the arms control negotiations raised the issue of European security. For such Germans as Egon Bahr, the answer lay in acknowledging the absence of any Soviet military threat to Western Europe—an optimistic proposition not acceptable to most European

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leaders.38 Those Europeans who relied on the deterrent power of American nuclear superiority could see little gain for European security in a SALT II agreement, with its emphasis on parity. European leaders doubted that a simple U.S. threat of massive retaliation would deter a European war. For them, NATO required credible deterrents positioned in Europe itself.39 Europeans were especially troubled, therefore, by the Soviet deployment of new, highly accurate, SS-20 intermediaterange missiles, with three warheads each and a range of 3,000 miles. To counter the new Soviet weapons, NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group, meeting during April 1979, agreed tentatively to deploy the two new American intermediate-range systems capable of reaching the U.S.S.R. from western European bases. Both the Pershing II and the groundlaunched cruise missiles had ranges of 1,100 miles. In December 1979, the NATO partners agreed to deploy 108 Pershing II and 464 groundlaunched cruise missiles unless the Soviets curtailed their medium-range deployments.40 What Soviet–American competition remained in Asia and Africa had proved to be costly and unsatisfactory for both countries. The Soviets had gained little from past efforts to affect Third World developments; while in opposing East Asian communism, the United States had inflicted grievous injury on itself without commensurate rewards. The nations of the world, for better or worse, had long been moving in directions that had little relationship to world communism, liberation, or containment. Only the Eastern European countries, under direct Soviet control, had not stepped fully out of the role to which the great powers had consigned them at the dawn of the Cold War. The United States had given the Kremlin incentives to accept the existing world when Nixon, in the SALT negotiations, acknowledged nuclear parity and Ford signed the Helsinki Declaration recognizing Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. Even so, throughout the 1970s the U.S.S.R. continued to spend some fifteen percent of total national output on defense, compared to only five percent in the United States. What the effort revealed of Soviet intentions or what it contributed to Soviet security, influence or prestige, remained highly elusive. The Kremlin’s costly military effort rendered the U.S.S.R. strong enough to menace the West and reinforce American insecurities, but it did not eliminate the Soviet requirement for coexistence with its major antagonists.41

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Domestic Divisions Western Sovietology presented the U.S.S.R. from Khrushchev to Brezhnev as a success story. It presumed that the Communist advances, under Brezhnev, in global acceptance, economic productivity, and increased consumerism flowed from a relaxed Soviet power structure—more democratic, innovative, and promising. Unfortunately, after Khrushchev, the Soviet system chose not foster liberalization.42 Yet whatever its advances under Brezhnev, the Soviet economy was not as efficient, powerful, or successful as it appeared. It could not overcome the inadequacies of a command economy, with its inefficiencies in production and organization, and its lack of innovation required for the creation and marketing of better and more varied products. Western calculations of Soviet GNP exaggerated Soviet economic performance, often to demonstrate the growing danger of Soviet power. Unable to escape such measurements, the CIA, for many years, overestimated Soviet economic activity by as much as sixty percent. For those Americans—many in high places—who had never detected any waning of the Kremlin’s global ambitions, the confluence of the known surge of Soviet military capabilities and Carter’s apparent readiness to accommodate Communist advances in the Third World presaged a global disaster. This troubling trend toward moderation, beginning in the mid-sixties with the rise of multi-polarity, seemed to find its ultimate political expression in George McGovern’s “New Politics.” McGovern’s nomination at the 1972 Democratic convention, followed by his overwhelming rejection by the American electorate, opened an inviting chasm in national politics for liberals. For them Democratic leaders, as well as much of the nation’s intellectual community, had gone too far in their abnegation of force in protecting the country’s interests and willingness to assert the superiority of Western democratic values. By the mid-seventies, former liberals, designated neoconservatives, had launched an anti-Communist crusade to reassert America’s role as defender of the free world. This counterattack on the emerging common wisdom of a receding Cold War received added impetus when, in 1976, George W. H. Bush, then CIA Director, appointed an outside-government panel, headed by Richard E. Pipes of Harvard University, to prepare an estimate of Soviet military programs and intentions. The ten-team members included Paul Nitze, the author of NSC 68, William Van Cleve, and Foy Kohler. All

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members of Team B were selected deliberately because they reflected “a more somber view of the Soviet strategic threat than that accepted as the intelligence community’s consensus.” The Team B report, completed in December 1976, concluded that previous intelligence estimates had tended to misperceive Soviet motivations, underestimating their intensity, scope, and implicit danger. It accused the CIA of relying too heavily on data provided by cameras and listening devices, and not enough on the threatening private and public statements of Soviet officials. Team B concluded that the Soviet Union was bent on gaining military superiority over the United States as part of its preparation for a limited nuclear war that would destroy American society, while losing no more than 20 million Soviet citizens.43 The incoming Carter administration, finding little merit in the report, ignored it. Another group in the vanguard of those who shared these burgeoning fears of Soviet power and expansionism was the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). The committee’s program was based largely on the Team B report. Led by Eugene Rostow and Paul Nitze, the CPD comprised largely former generals, admirals, state department officials, and academics who were troubled by the persistent buildup of Soviet military power and the concomitant failure of the United States to oppose Soviet Third World activities, especially in Africa and the Middle East. On its executive committee were Richard V. Allen, Charles Burton Marshall, and Dean Rusk. Going public in October 1976, the CPD argued that the Soviet drive for dominance, based on unprecedented military preparations, required a much higher level of American defense expenditures. Its policy statement began: “Our country is in a period of danger and the danger is increasing.”44 CPD spokesmen, three days before Carter’s victory in November, explained the danger of continued strategic inferiority: “If Soviet dominance of the strategic nuclear level is allowed to persist, Soviet policy-makers may—and almost certainly will—feel freer to use force at lower levels, confident that the United States will shy away from a threat of escalation.” Nitze summarized the argument for American nuclear superiority: “To have the advantage at the utmost level of violence helps at every lesser level.45 Carter disregarded the Committee on the Present Danger in making his advisory appointments. Forced outside government, the committee set out to mobilize the public against the new administration’s predictable passivity toward the twin forces of Soviet preparedness and Third World nationalism. During subsequent weeks, the committee criticized Carter’s

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appointments and savagely attacked Paul Warnke’s nomination as arms negotiator. The committee challenged Carter’s central assumption—that in a world of triumphant nationalism U.S. power had no legitimate or necessary use—by arguing that the Kremlin stood behind every assault on international stability.46 For the CPD, American inaction in the Third World was synonymous with weakness and retreat. Much of the country’s foreign policy elite challenged these burgeoning fears and predictions of doom. At issue in the debate over national security and military adequacy were Soviet capabilities and intentions. On both counts, the suppositions of the New Right, Team B, and the CPD faced vigorous criticism. G. B. Kistiakowsky, President Eisenhower’s assistant for science and technology, denied that the United States suffered from strategic inferiority or faced a Soviet nuclear attack. Those who advocated an ever-larger nuclear arsenal, Kistiakowsky observed, had no choice but to dwell on the feasibility of nuclear war. He attacked the persistent worst-case view of the Soviet danger, employed repeatedly after 1949, he charged, to rationalize the continuing American military buildup. Never, he noted, did the predicted disasters materialize. He discounted the dismal scenarios of Nitze and Professor Richard Pipes that the Soviet first strike strategy could produce victory in such a war. As he concluded: “It is difficult to regard these dooms day scenarios as anything more than baseless nightmares.”47 He wondered how the U.S.S.R. could better survive a nuclear war than the United States; both sides, he declared, would face absolute chaos. For Henry Kissinger the issue of nuclear strategy was too complex and important to be subjected to doctrinaire and partisan debate. “Those who talk about supremacy,” he charged, “are not doing this country a service.”48 Where it mattered, such writers agreed, U.S. policies of containment had been effective. Nowhere had the Kremlin risked a superpower military confrontation. Soviet expert Raymond Garthoff pointedly denied Nitze’s contention that the Soviets were seeking nuclear supremacy to fight a nuclear war. Actually, he noted, Soviet military and political leaders had repeatedly called for strategies of mutual destruction, based on parity, and designed to avoid nuclear war.49 Columbia scholar Robert Legvold, writing in Foreign Affairs, October 1977, observed that the Soviet military effort was designed largely to sanctify the Soviet Union’s status as a global power so that no international issue would terminate to that country’s disadvantage. George F. Kennan saw little danger of war. He advised Americans to stop believing that the Soviets contemplated an attack on

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Western Europe or that they would have struck earlier except for the American nuclear deterrent. Kennan reminded Americans that when the Soviet Union “looks abroad it sees more dangers than inviting opportunities…. It has no desire for any major war, least of all for a nuclear one. It fears and respects American military power…and hopes to avoid a conflict with it.”50 That polls revealed a surge in American opinion for larger defense budgets was not surprising. Amid the charges of national weakness, countless Americans embraced the warnings of previous years that the Soviets sought both conventional and nuclear superiority in quest of war-winning capability. Strategists complained that the Carter administration, relying on the good faith of the nation’s adversaries, had decoupled Soviet ambitions, as demonstrated in Africa and the Middle East, from expanding Soviet power.51 General George J. Keegan, retired head of Air Force intelligence, warned that the Soviet threat was real and that global conflict was in the making. At stake, added General Matthew B. Ridgway, was the nation’s survival. Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt concluded that, because of U.S. weakness, Soviet naval and air forces were clearly capable of gaining control of the western Pacific and the eastern Mediterranean. In Europe as well, he added, the balance had shifted against the West. No longer could NATO place its trust in either its conventional forces or the American nuclear umbrella.52 Defense Secretary Harold Brown acknowledged that the United States, for a decade, had pursued a policy of strategic restraint in building its missile and bomber forces, as well as its defense capabilities. Now, as Brzezinski’s ally, he advocated a reversal of policy with the observation that Soviet military spending “has shown no response to U.S. restraint—when we build, they build; when we cut, they build.” Kissinger, once a proponent of détente, advocated a renewal of strategic competition with Moscow.53 But in a succinct assessment, Peter Marin questioned the wisdom of the country’s current outlook. Indeed, whether it was the Nicaraguan revolution, the hostage crisis, the rise in OPEC prices, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, or the fighting in Iraq and Iran, it was the United States’ inability to rein in such events and its incompetent response to them that spurred a “rethinking of our political and moral relation to the world. But we neglect this crucial task.” As stated, Instead, we have lapsed happily into the familiar attitudes that marked the Cold War in the Fifties and the Asian debacle of the Sixties: we clench our

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fists and mutter comforting platitudes to ourselves, cheerfully lost among the same illusions that proved so disastrous a decade ago. It is fashionable now, in some circles, to see this renewed military hubris as both inevitable and necessary. We are told that we are merely leaving behind, as we must, guilt that paralyzed us for a decade after the war in Vietnam. But that, I think, misstates the case. What paralyzed us was not simply the guilt felt about Vietnam, but our inability to confront and comprehend that guilt: our refusal to face squarely what happened and why….54

Conclusion Carter’s undoctrinaire approach to external affairs still appealed to a broad segment of the country, but it exposed the administration to charges that it had discarded the Cold War strategy of containment. For Carter, the multi-polar world demanded a multiplicity of policies that defied the formulation of any global strategy. Brzezinski explained to a New York audience, in May 1979 that Carter had “sought to widen the scope of our primary relationships to encompass countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Our purpose is to create a framework that is genuinely global, within which the individual needs of nations and of peoples can be more fully satisfied.”55 In contrast to such ambitions, the strategy of containment was exceedingly limited in scope and action. That strategy comprised a perennial effort to maximize the strength and will of countries opposed to the U.S.S.R., but it provided no strategic responses to events not perceived as Soviet threats or even to many that were. No previous administration, for example, had ever confronted the U.S.S.R. directly over any alleged Soviet Third World expansionism. No one who condemned the Carter administration for its lack of strategy could define one that integrated balance of power considerations with those of world order, or weigh the importance of sound bilateral relationships with major governments against the demands of security, economic welfare, nonproliferation, arms sales, and human rights. Even some who advocated more coherent and integrated foreign policies acknowledged that Carter faced external challenges so complex and ambiguous, that any over-riding strategy would have been unsuitable and confining.56 Still, critics could, with justice, accuse the president of undertaking too much without a clear set of priorities. What seemed to reinforce the lack of direction was the administration’s chaotic system of policy formulation. Without a dominant foreign policy adviser, Carter looked

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to two power centers, the State Department and the NSC. Their oftenconflicting opinions impeded the process of decision-making, leading at times to confusion.57 The administration possessed no balancing historical perspective; it revealed no interest in continuity or precedent, often ignoring previous efforts to deal with issues under consideration. Unable to recognize basic trends, it too often shifted from one policy option to another until it discovered that events had moved beyond its control, and in directions that the nation regarded disastrous. Carter’s failures lay as well in his general unconcern for public, congressional, and bureaucratic opinion. Initially, Carter’s moderation captured the mind of Washington’s bureaucracy, but he reached out neither to the bureaucracy nor to Congress; ultimately, he lost the support of both. Except to his close friends, he conveyed no feeling of personal warmth.58 His repeated efforts to democratize the presidency stripped the office of much of its symbolic authority and exposed him to varying levels of public disrespect.

Notes 1. Address at the University of Notre Dame, May 22, 1977, Department of State Bulletin 76 (June 13, 1977): 622; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America And The Cold War, 1941– 1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Laurence H. Shoup, The Carter Presidency and Beyond: Power and Politics in the 1980s (Palo Alto, CA: Ramparts Press, 1980), 141, 144–45; Paul Lewis in The New York Times, February 13, 1977, E5. 3. Quoted in Shoup, The Carter Presidency and Beyond, 109. 4. For a survey of Carter’s foreign policy goals see Anthony Lake, “Pragmatism and Principle in U.S. Foreign Policy,” Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Media Services, June 13, 1977, 1–7; Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (New York: Bantam Books, 1982), 143–44; Carter, Why Not the Best? (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1975), 1–6. 5. Donald C. Spencer, The Carter Implosion: Jimmy Carter and the Amateur Style of Diplomacy (New York: Praeger, 1988), 25–27. 6. Stanley Hoffmann, “A View from At Home: The Perils of Incoherence,” Foreign Affairs 57 (1979): 485. 7. Richard J. Barnet, “Carter’s Patchwork Doctrine,” Harper’s (August 1977): 27.

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8. Scalapino, “Pacific Prospects,” 10. 9. Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., “China, Soviet Strategy, and American Policy,” International Security 5 (Fall 1980): 24–31. 10. Scalapino, “Pacific Prospects,” 11. 11. Cyrus Vance, Hard Choices, 76–77. 12. Brzezinski, Power and Principle, 211. 13. Pfaltzgraff, “China, Soviet Strategy, and American Policy,” 44. 14. L. I. Brezhnev, Our Course: Peace and Socialism (Moscow, 1980), 10. 15. Raymond L. Garthoff, Detente and Confrontation: American-Soviet Relations from Nixon to Reagan (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1985), 1049–50; Shoup, The Carter Presidency, 150–152; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “Misconceptions About Russia Are a Threat to America,” Foreign Affairs (Spring 1980): 819. 16. Barnet, “Carter’s Patchwork Doctrine,” 30. 17. Marilyn Berger, “Vance and Brzezinski: Peaceful Coexistence or Guerrilla Warfare?” The New York Times Magazine (February 13, 1977): 19–23. 18. For a judgment of Brzezinski’s many written predictions and analyses, see Kenneth L. Adelman, “The Runner Stumbles: Carter’s Foreign Policy in Year One,” Policy Review 3 (Winter 1978): 95. 19. Berger, “Vance and Brzezinski,” 23. 20. Charles Mohr in The New York Times, January 9, 1977; Paul Lewis in ibid., February 13, 1977. 21. For Carter’s renewed commitment to NATO see Department of State Bulletin 76 (June 6, 1977): 597–600; Barnet, “Carter’s Patchwork Doctrine,” 52. 22. Oswald Johnson in the International Herald Tribune, April 8, 1977; C. L. Sulzberger in The New York Times, November 6, 1977. 23. Carter, Keeping Faith, 225–29. 24. Helmuth Schmidt, Men and Power (New York, 1989), 63–64, 186– 87, 213; Sam Cohen, The Truth About the Neutron Bomb (New York: Morrow, 1983), 174–75. 25. Adelman, “The Runner Stumbles: Carter’s Foreign Policy,” 93. 26. Cyrus Vance, Hard Choices, 441; Marshall Shulman, “On Learning to Live with Authoritarian Regimes,” Foreign Affairs (January 1977): 334– 38; John Ehrman, The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectuals and Foreign Affairs 1945–1994 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 100– 101. 27. Kenneth W. Thompson, ed., The Carter Presidency (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990), 6. 28. Strobe Talbott, Endgame: The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row, 1980), 48–49. 29. Ibid., 49–50.

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30. Carter, Keeping Faith, 219; James Reston in The New York Times, March 27, 1977. 31. The Soviet complaint appeared in The New York Times, April 3, 1977; Spencer, The Carter Implosion, 114–15. 32. Newsweek (October 24, 1977): 53; Richard Burt in The New York Times, February 19, 1978. 33. Interview, October 31, 1977, Secretary of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Media Services, 2. 34. David K. Shipler in The New York Times, February 12, 1978. 35. Adelman, “The Runner Stumbles: Carter’s Foreign Policy,” 96–97. 36. Thomas Graham, Jr., Disarmament Sketches: Three Decades of Arms Control and International Law (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), p. 56, 76–99; Hugh Sidey in Time (June 25, 1979): 11; Carter, Keeping Faith, 243–60. 37. The Wall Street Journal, May 31, 1979, 24; ibid., June 4, 1979, 18; Rozell, The Press and the Carter Presidency 127; Robert Kaiser in The Guardian [Manchester], May 4, 1979. 38. John Palmer in The Guardian, May 9, 1979, 13. 39. Richard R. Burt, “Washington and the Atlantic Alliance: The Hidden Crisis,” in Thompson, The Carter Presidency, 114–15. 40. Gregory Treverrton in The Observer [London], April 29, 1979; Hella Pick in The Guardian, May 1, 1979, 7; Burt, “Washington and the Atlantic Alliance,” 117. 41. Anatole Shub, The New Russian Tragedy (New York: Norton, 1969), 87–88, 112–13, 120. 42. Martin Malia, “Leninist Endgame,” Daedalus 121 (Spring 1992): 59–60. 43. Murray Marder in The Washington Post, January 2, 1977; Don Oberdorfer in ibid., October 12, 1992, A11; Anne Hessing Cahn, “Team B: The Trillion,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (April 1993): 22–27; Paul Nitze, From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision—A Memoir (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989), 350–353; Oberdorfer in The Washington Post, October 12, 1992, A11. 44. Linda Charlton in the International Herald Tribune, April 5, 1977. 45. These two quotations are taken from Jerry W. Sanders, “Para-Institutional Elites and Foreign Policy Consensus,” a paper prepared for a conference at the White Burkett Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia, September 28–29, 1984, 11. 46. David Callahan, Dangerous Capabilities: Paul Nitze and the Cold War (New York: Harper & Row, 1990), 19–21, 389–95. 47. G. B. Kistiakowsky, “The Arms Race: Is Paranoia Necessary for Security?” The New York Times Magazine (November 27, 1977); Paul Nitze, “Assuring Strategic Stability in an Era of Detente,” Foreign Affairs 54

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54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

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(January 1976); Richard Pipes, “Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Can Fight and Win a Nuclear War,” Commentary (July 1977). Kissinger in The New York Times, January 11, 1977; Callahan, Nitze, 380. Raymond Garthoff, “Mutual Deterrence and Strategic Arms Limitation in Soviet Policy,” International Security 3 (Summer 1978): 139. Kennan, The Cloud of Danger, 200. Adelman, “The Runner Stumbles: Carter’s Foreign Policy,” 98; W. Scott Thompson, “Introduction,” Thompson, The Carter Presidency, 13. Keegan quoted in The Washington Post, March 12, 1977; Ridgway in The Daily Progress, January 30, 1977; Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., “Heritage of Weakness: An Assessment of the 1970s,” Thompson, The Carter Presidency, 19–37. Richard Burt, “Reassessing the Strategic Balance,” International Security 5 (Summer 1980), 39; George F. Will in Newsweek (June 25, 1979): 104; Kissinger in Stephen S. Rosenfeld, The Washington Post, August 3, 1979. Peter Marin, “Coming to Terms with Vietnam,” Harper’s 261 (December 1980): 41. Harold Jackson in The Guardian, May 3, 1979. William J. Barnds, “Carter and the World: The First Two Years,” Worldview 22 (January–February 1979), 39. David M. Alpern, “Feeling Helpless,” Newsweek (February 26, 1979): 22–25. Lake, “Carter’s Foreign Policy,” 146.

CHAPTER 10

The Tale of Two Terms: The Reagan Diplomatic Transition

Many strategists assumed that the Cold War, in large measure shaped by the nuclear bomb, would be resolved in a string of mushroom clouds. As this chapter will illustrate, that the Cold War ended without such a clash was due in large measure to the efforts of American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in spurring the process to reduce nuclear arsenals. These two charismatic leaders, who differed in so many ways, were an oddly matched pair who sought to lessen the prospects of a nuclear war. Reagan, the older of the two, was a convinced, out-spoken anti-Communist, who came to the White House with little understanding of the Soviet Union and largely uniformed about the intricacies of nuclear weaponry. Without intellectual or analytical pretensions, his fear that these destructive weapons might be used would lead him to urge the development and deployment of a questionable missile defense system and seek a halt to building nuclear weaponry. Gorbachev, a dedicated communist bent on domestic reform, provided the imaginative leadership that redirected Moscow’s relations with the West even while it led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Overriding the opposition in the Politburo, Professor Robert English has recorded, he sincerely believed “that he could end the Cold War solely by cutting weapons and halting the arms race.” Both leaders put great stock in personal contact and their ability to © The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1_10

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persuade others of their programs. Gorbachev felt that his initial face-toface meeting with Reagan would break the deadlock on arms limitations; when it did not, he would upset the Cold War hawks on both sides by offering extensive Soviet concessions. He gained the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War.

The Ardent Cold Warrior Exploiting the nation’s sense of futility caused by Iran’s seizure of American hostages and the Soviet’s intervention in Afghanistan, Ronald Reagan embellished such developments and rode them to victory in November 1980. During his presidential campaign, he and other Republican leaders condemned the Carter administration for its “weakness, inconsistency, vacillation, and bluff” in the face of Islamist radicals and Moscow’s alleged aggressive actions. Not only that, Reagan charged that the Democratic administration had permitted the Soviet Union to seize military supremacy from the United States. “We’re already in an arms race,” Reagan complained, “but only the Soviets are racing.”1 Even though America’s economic and military strength continued to stabilize a divided Europe, to Cold War hawks, the Carter administration had failed to restrain threatening Soviet expansionism in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Pledging to rebuild the country’s military forces, Reagan and his supporters during the campaign repeatedly declared their determination to reverse the country’s decline. Reversing that decline demanded far more than augmenting the armed forces. National security also required rebuilding the American consensus broken by the Vietnam War. “[W]e must rid ourselves of the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’,” Reagan advised the nation in April 1980. “It has dominated our thinking for too long.”2 During the campaign, he defended the Southeast Asian conflict as a “noble war,” an unselfish American effort to help a new Asian country defend itself against a “totalitarian neighbor bent on conquest.” The United States was not defeated in Vietnam, he assured his audience; the failure to achieve victory rested on the country’s antiwar elements. His secretary of state designate, Alexander M. Haig, Jr., echoed this view, arguing that the United States would have triumphed had it employed all of its available military power. In seeking to transform the Vietnam conflict into a necessary, laudable, and winnable encounter, Reagan stressed the proposition that the United States dared not again abjure the use of adequate force in Third World crises. Neither dared it

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lose. By re-instituting its military supremacy and commitment to global containment, the United States would regain both the capability and the will to check Soviet expansionism. It would again be the defender of free world, challenging communist advances in Central America, Africa and the Middle East. Long before he settled in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Reagan had a perfected, well-honed anticommunist litany. Speaking to the Phoenix, Arizona, Chamber of Commerce in 1961, he declared, “Wars end in victory or defeat. One of the foremost authorities on communism in the world today has said we have ten years. Not ten years to make up our minds, but ten years to win or lose—by 1970 the world will be all slave or free.” Reagan’s rhetoric, especially of the early 1960s, combined the views of the populists and fundamental evangelicals, presenting in simple, uncomplicated language, what Frances Fitzgerald suggests as “the virtues still generally thought to be most quintessentially American: antielitism, distrust of experts, a belief in democratic values, in plain speaking and common sense.” It also contained many of the characteristics of a “paranoid style,” which historian Richard Hofstadter described in his masterful essay on “The Paranoid Style in America Politics.” The paranoid spokesman—focusing on a gigantic, sinister conspiracy driven by an almost demonic force—holds that he comprehends what others do not, that he is the protagonist in an apocalyptic drama. In his trademark “standard speech,” Reagan approached the Cold War much as many other strident anticommunists. His view on international Communism was found at the end of the speech. “We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars.” With this as a launching pad, he would go on to castigate American liberals for seeking accommodation with these evil forces. “We are being asked to buy our safety from the threat of the Bomb by selling into permanent slavery our fellow human beings enslaved behind the Iron Curtain.” Reagan charged his opponents with “encouraging them to give up their hope of freedom because we are ready to make a deal with their slave masters.” Reagan also denounced the various early superpower arms control negotiations.3 While he never directly urged the United States to challenge the Soviet Union militarily, he never proposed any solutions to the dilemmas he presented.

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The “Good vs Evil” Narrative Although it was not the first occasion he employed the terms to describe the Soviet Union, Reagan’s “evil empire” speech on March 8, 1983, to the National Association of Evangelicals, was the climax of his hostile rhetoric. During his campaign for a second term, and after he met the new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, he greatly muted his criticisms of the Kremlin. Indeed, much to the dismay of his hard-line anticommunist supporters, before he left the White House Reagan would declare the evil empire no longer existed. But during his first term, drawing on his colleagues from the Committee on the President Danger, Reagan established a sympathetic advisory team committed to reasserting the country’s global leadership. Prominently among the fifty-one Committee members that obtained positions in the new administration were former Team B members William R. Van Cleave, a defense analyst from the University of Southern California, Harvard historian Richard Pipes, and General Daniel O. Graham, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Other principal advisers were Richard V. Allen, Soviet specialist, former member of Kissinger’s national security council and Reagan’s principal campaign coordinator for foreign policy; Fred C. Ikle, former director of the arms control agency; and Robert W. Tucker, political scientist at Johns Hopkins. Pipes, Tucker and Van Cleave established the high decibel anticommunist tone of the group. The Kremlin, Pipes argued, “is driven by ideology, internal politics and economic exigencies steadily to expand.” Moreover, repeating the dismal findings of Team B, he warned in Commentary that the Soviets did not accept the idea of nuclear deterrence and were building forces designed to wage and win a nuclear war. Tucker suggested that America’s loss of will to use its power had allowed Moscow to misbehave in various parts of the world. Van Cleave focused on what he saw as the United States’ inexcusable decline in readiness, modernization, maintenance, and force levels. “Today,” he declared in a New York Times interview of October 1980, “the United States is almost irrelevant.”4 Downplaying President Carter’s concern with human rights, the new administration placed its emphasis on U.S. security interests. Whether Third World governments had poor human rights records mattered less than their opposition to communism. Jeanne Kirkpatrick of Georgetown University entered the Reagan stable with a 1979 article in Commentary, entitled, “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” Appointed ambassador

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to the United Nations, Kirkpatrick joined with Ernest W. Lefever, also of Georgetown University, in arguing that there was a fundamental distinction between Communist totalitarianism and right-wing authoritarianism. The former, they pointed out, pursued ideological purity at the expense of human rights; authoritarian regimes ignored human rights to combat subversion or external pressure. Totalitarian regimes, they argued, never became democratized, whereas many autocracies did. What this distinction seemed to overlook was not the absence of reformist potential in Communist societies, as Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland demonstrated, but the power of Soviet armies. Yet such distinctions greatly aided in rationalizing assistance to pro-Western dictatorships as well as the consistent opposition to Communist nations. Whatever their character, Lefever insisted that the United States should support friendly governments. Nominated as an assistant secretary of state dealing with human rights matters, Lefever eventually withdraw his name from consideration in the face of Senate opposition.5

Reemphasizing Militarism and Strength Fears of Soviet military power and global expansionism dominated the outlook of the Reagan team and fellow neoconservatives. The president defined these dangers at a White House news conference in late January 1981: From the time of the Russian revolution until the present, Soviet leaders have reiterated their determination that their goal must be the promotion of world revolution and a one world socialist or communist state…. They have openly and publicly declared that the only morality they recognize is what will further their cause; meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime; to lie [and] to cheat in order to obtain that.6

Secretary of State designate Alexander Haig endorsed this alarming view of the Kremlin’s activities. At his January 1981 confirmation hearings, he warned members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the years ahead would “be unusually dangerous. Evidence of that danger … [was] everywhere.” The nation needed be vigilant and be prepared to expend the resources necessary to control future events. “Unchecked,” he said, “the growth of Soviet military power must eventually paralyze

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Western policy altogether.” Addressing the American Society of Newspaper Editors three months later, Haig declared that Washington needed to concentrate its policies on the Soviet Union because the Kremlin was “the greatest source of international insecurity today…. Let us be plain about it: Soviet promotion of violence as the instrument of change constitutes the greatest danger to world peace.”7 As with the president’s claims, the secretary of state never supplied evidence to support their charges. The Reagan administration presumed from the outset that unwanted developments everywhere resulted from Soviet expansionism. The Republican platform had detected “clear danger signals indicating that the Soviet Union was using Cuban, East German, and now Nicaraguan, as well as its own, military forces to extend its power to Africa, Asia and the Western Hemisphere.” Caught in the momentum of expanding fears and strategic concerns, the administration eventually set in motion the costliest defense program in the nation’s peacetime history. Led by Van Cleave, a long-time critic of the nuclear arms limitation treaties, Reagan’s military advisers pushed for higher levels of defense expenditures, ignoring traditional review procedures and unwilling to reconsider the military utility of a project once authorized. Even defense secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, who had arrived with a well-earned reputation for cutting costs, endorsed the Pentagon’s “wish list,” with its projection that to meet the Soviet threat required nothing less than an annual seven percent increase in defense spending above inflation.8 Most Americans seemed to accept the increase in arms expenditures as the best way for the United States to restore the nation’s military predominance and, thus, to regain its capacity to shape events and support reliable friends. Reagan agreed and included the inflated figure in his new budget. With new technologically advanced weapons Washington would deal from a position of greater strength, reassure allies and, perhaps, enhance U.S. negotiations on nuclear weapons reduction. The proposed expenditures— $1.6 trillion in five years—would be spent to acquire new missile systems, especially the mobile MX, underwrite the nation’s most ambitious naval program in history, update air force planes and facilities, and create a stronger, more mobile conventional force prepared for any global challenges.9 Reiterating a long-held Pentagon truism, Secretary Weinberger insisted that Afghanistan demonstrated the United States always must be ready to fight several conventional wars simultaneously. “We have to be prepared,” he argued, “to launch counteroffensives in other regions and

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to exploit the aggressor’s weaknesses wherever we might find them…. We must be prepared for waging a conventional war that may extend to many parts of the world.” How the administration would obtain the necessary personnel to man its ships, tactical air wings, and divisions without some form of public service was not evident. But more immediate was the dilemma of distinguishing weapons that were necessary, effective, and manageable from those that were merely expensive.10 The massive new military buildup was not without its critics. Among them were informed observers who charged that the Reagan administration’s claim of overwhelming Soviet military power was nothing more than a myth. According to James Fallows, symbols unquestionably play a part in international politics. “The Russians have derived incalculable mileage from the impression that they have built a world-conquering military force, an impression they have been fostering, overtly and covertly, since 1945. But why should we help them create that impression,” he questioned, “when it is at such variance with the facts, and when the real purpose of such warnings, I am convinced, is only to apply a scourge to the flaccid American soul? If the problem is the perception of American strength, why not assess that strength coolly rather that create exaggerated fears?” The administration’s avoidance of readily available facts was evident. One of the many examples noted by Fallows was the Pentagon’s alarm in the late 1960s regarding the Soviet Foxbat (MIG-25), believing that it reportedly could fly at 3.2 mach or better, with a combat range of 2,000 miles. Since officials asserted it would change the balance of air power, the U.S. Air Force ordered the F-15; indeed, only the MIG-25 could justify the expense of the F-15. A Soviet pilot seeking asylum in 1976, brought with him a MIG-25 where American technicians discovered the wings were not made of titanium and had rust spots and protruding rivets; the radio still had vacuum tubes; it could not fly faster than 2.5 mach; and it had a far shorter range than estimated. Christopher Paine pointed out in a fall 1982 edition of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that “85 percent of the Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile force [is] usually in port on any given day” while only one-third of U.S. submarines were similarly in port. The New York Daily News reported in February 1982 that “morale among Soviet troops stationed in East Germany is so bad that some units are close to mutiny.”11 Not surprisingly, overly generous annual assessments of the Soviet armed forces published by the Pentagon, to justify its budgets during the early Reagan years, ignored such data.

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There were also many business people and even Pentagon officials who questioned whether military projections transcended the requirements of national security. Could Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger reduce the military’s wasteful habits, and could he even persuade the Pentagon to be accountable—to balance its books? Congressmen, equally troubled by the perennial rise in the cost of national defense, had difficultly arguing that specific expenditures were excessive when the experts, with their control of essential information, insisted that they were not. Moreover, most congressmen benefited from the monies spent in their districts and realized substantial reductions of defense expenditures would result in the loss of jobs at home. There existed in Washington a strange lack of concern for an effective distribution of allocated defense funds. Nonetheless, the expenditures themselves were seemingly expected to send a message to the Kremlin. As with previous administrations, Reagan and his advisers anticipated far more than the perpetuation of the status quo from the country’s costly defense efforts. The higher levels of U.S. preparedness, supplemented by a program to deny the U.S.S.R. the benefits of Western trade, credits, and technology, some thought, would bring about long-desired changes in Soviet behavior. Determined to drive the administration’s assertive goals in its dealings with the Kremlin, Reagan insisted that a discussion of the “imperialism of the Soviet Union” must feature prominently at any future summit meeting. “We have a right, indeed a duty,” Secretary Haig echoed, “to insist that the Soviets support a peaceful international order, that they abide by treaties, and that they respect reciprocity.”12

External Considerations in the President’s Calculi With such expectations, a senior administration official announced that a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and Angola was not sufficient as a precondition for moderating the U.S.’s posture; he would demand nothing less than an extensive reduction in Soviet military spending. Others in Washington anticipated that when the United States achieved overwhelming nuclear supremacy, the Soviet Union would be coerced into accepting conditions everywhere that conformed to American design. In strong language, Reagan offered his administration’s revisionist goals when he spoke before the British Parliament on June 8, 1982: “Let us now begin a major effort to secure the best—a crusade for freedom that

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will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.”13 In some measure, Reagan’s approach to the U.S.S.R. was a reaffirmation of the Eisenhower administration’s concept of massive retaliation, with its underlying assumption that the Soviets could not, in the long run, survive American competition. Critics’ prediction that his administration would never link its fears of the Soviet Union with its actions was borne out by the record. Never did the Reagan team developed policies that focused on fulfilling its selfproclaimed global goals. Foreign policy rhetoric canvassed about during the administration’s early months were never the determinants of policy, for the occasions when American force might be used was never defined with any precision. Shooting down two Libyan aircraft in late 1981, that challenged an American naval presence inside the Gulf of Sidra, was scarcely a defining moment for the administration. Raising questions about his policy of toughness, Reagan, in early April 1981, terminated Carter’s embargo on grain shipments to the Soviet Union. Much as Carter, Reagan coexisted—often quietly employing the CIA—with the Soviet activities in Afghanistan, Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula. The Reagan rhetoric was meant, critics logically concluded, not to form the basis of the tougher policy toward Moscow, but rather to assuage the American public.14 Soon it became apparent that the chasm between official words and official actions aggravated differences between the administration’s pragmatists and the ideologues. Because of the lack of clearly defined objectives, Reagan received conflicting policy proposals from Haig’s State Department, Weinberger’s Defense Department, Richard Allen’s National Security Council, Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s UN office, and Republicans everywhere. As a consequence, bitter bureaucratic struggles sprang up leading Haig to complain that the decision-making process was as “mysterious as a ghost ship; you heard the creak of the rigging and the groan of the timbers and even glimpsed the crew on deck. But which one of the crew was at the helm? It was impossible to know for sure.”15 Still, contrary to critics’ perception of his anti-Soviet rhetoric, Reagan ultimately expected much improved relations with the Kremlin. His inaugural address emphasized the American people’s desire for peace: “We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it, [but] we will not surrender for it, now or ever.” The new president, however, was determined to negotiate from strength. His expanded military program, Reagan later explained,

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was aimed at gaining concessions from the Soviets. “I think that we can sit down and maybe have some more realistic negotiations because of what we can threaten them with,” the president told reporters in October 1981. “But they know our potential capacity industrially, and they can’t match it.” It was questionable, however, whether Reagan ever lacked the military strength to negotiate. Negotiation always consists of more than assessing existing power, whatever its magnitude, when it carries no serious sign of impending hostile action. Successful negotiation entails compromises needed to establish a satisfactory agreement grounded on mutual interests, whether dealing with territory or arms reductions.16 Much in the same vein, Robert Tucker warned in Foreign Affairs that the previous administration’s failure to confront the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan “has laid bare as never before the vulnerability of the American position in a region of vital interests…. [T]he invasion of Afghanistan must signal, even for the most obtuse, that we have entered a very dangerous period.” With such warnings, the Reagan administration uncritically endorsed the Carter Doctrine for the region, despite its dubious premises. When Secretary Haig visited the Middle East during April 1981, seeking bilateral agreements with Arab states to fend off Soviet adventurism, he found that Arab leaders considered the unresolved Palestinian question to be the basic threat to regional stability. Egypt flatly rejected any anti-Soviet strategy for the Middle East. The United States had more success in persuading Pakistan to accept a $3 billion military aid package; immediately, however, India sought to counter Washington’s program for they perceived it as a threat to the stability of South Asia. The administration’s attempt to substantially improve Saudi Arabian military forces ran into fierce Israeli opposition. Recognition of Israel’s strategic importance to U.S. objectives in the Middle East prompted the president’s refusal to condemn that country for its air strikes against Soviet-equipped missile bases in Syria, or its preemptive destruction in June 1981 of the nuclear facility at Osirak in Iraq.17 To some critics, Washington’s policy obviously overlooked larger questions. Against what common foe could Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, cooperatively, be mobilized? What level of American expenditure or alliance making would garner the resources required to meet Soviet power in the region? If the Arab countries could not mount a military assault against Israel, how could they protect the Middle East from Soviet conventional military power? Fortunately, Moscow’s caution and

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limited interests in the Middle East rescued a questionable American policy initiative.18 In a southern corner of Africa, Reagan attempted to transform what was clearly a local revolutionary conflict into a Soviet–American confrontation. The administration supported the Republic of South Africa’s effort to confront the Soviet-backed, but United Nationsrecognized, Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in Angola. American multinational corporations, long welcomed by the Angolan government, had assisted in developing the country’s resources, especially offshore oil fields. Washington protested the presence of Cuban troops in Angola, requested by the government, despite the fact that they also secured Western operations. In late August 1981, Pretoria, assured of U.S. cooperation, sent an armed force into Angola in pursuit of SWAPO forces. Following a brief campaign, South African forces claimed to have neutralized hundreds of SWAPO rebels, captured a Soviet officer and large quantities of Soviet-made equipment. When black African leaders insisted the United Nations invoke sanctions against South Africa, the State Department refused to condemn Pretoria’s actions. Washington’s decision reversed the UN’s current anti-Moscow alignment resulting from its intervention in Afghanistan, costing the administration the support of many black African officials. The price was substantial, for South Africa controlled relatively little of the continent’s population and resources.19 The Senate later eased the hostility when, without Reagan’s support, it finally endorsed the UN’s 1977 arms embargo of South Africa. Then a U.S. VELA nuclear detection satellite detected a double flash of light, somewhere in the South Atlantic, on September 22, 1979, suggesting a nuclear test. Because the CIA knew little about South Africa’s nuclear program, it could not rule out a possible nuclear explosion. (A majority of the respondents to a later NSC study offered three, never confirmed, possibilities: a secret test by South Africa, a secret test by Israel, and a secret test by South Africa and Israel.) Washington did not publicly accuse Pretoria of violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty because American officials feared a revelation that South Africa might possess nuclear weapons could only exacerbate tensions throughout the continent. If black African states, sided by Moscow, demanded much stricter UN sanctions against Pretoria, Washington would be confronted with the prospect of taking an anti-Pretoria position which, in turn, might threaten important mineral exports to the United States. In the end, downplaying the incident served

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the administration best, although Washington did press Pretoria to honor its non-proliferation obligations.20 If Washington’s relations with Europe were exacerbated by the Lebanese crisis, the relationship was even more strained by the Reagan administration’s opposition to the Soviet’s proposed Yamal natural gas pipeline. This episode vividly illuminated the growing U.S.-European differences in their perceptions of the possibilities for improved relations with Moscow. A $15 billion project, the pipeline was designed to convey three billion cubic meters of natural gas from the Yamal Peninsula, above the Arctic Circle, to West Germany, France, and Italy by 1984. The Europeans hailed the pipeline as a means of providing much-needed energy; consequently, led by West Germany’s approval in 1980, they quickly endorsed the project. Predictably, Reagan opposed the pipeline and offered U.S. assistance in the form of coal and nuclear power. The president, having rejected détente, had no desire to encourage closer ties between Europe and the Kremlin. This project, he told a western summit conference at Ottawa in July 1981, would enhance Soviet power and influence in Europe by providing Moscow a potential stranglehold over Western Europe’s energy supplies. This the Soviets could exploit economically and politically. The Defense Department feared the $8 billion the Soviets earned annually would enhance the Soviet economy and provide for greater military spending.21 White House adviser Richard Pipes argued that Washington should not assist the Soviet Union to sustain its “inefficient system…and [instead] buildup an aggressive military force and expand globally. Any attempt to help the Soviet Union out of its economic predicament both eases the pressures for internal reform and reduces the need for global retrenchment.”22 None of these arguments and expectations played well in Western European capitals. Although the Soviet Union might not be an ideal source of energy, European leaders believed Moscow was preferable to the OPEC countries of the Middle East. With some twenty-five million unemployed in the West, the projected pipeline offered opportunities for much-needed jobs and commerce. West European leaders believed that because they and the Soviets had a mutual interest in seeing the project succeed, the pipeline would lessen Kremlin aggressiveness. The Soviet need for hard currency, combined with the fact that natural gas sales would account for only two percent of Western Europe’s combined energy requirements, increased the incentive to keep the pipeline open. Finally, Western Europeans doubted that any U.S. economic sanctions

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against the U.S.S.R., aimed at halting the pipeline, would alter Soviet behavior. The Kremlin already possessed sufficient nuclear weapons to destroy both Western Europe and the United States.23 Undeterred by these arguments, Reagan’s decision to bar American corporations from supplying materials for the construction of the pipeline initially faced little opposition. Soon, however, internal concerns surfaced. Disagreement arose among U.S. officials over whether to extend the ban to European subsidiaries of American firms. The State Department worried that with Western European commitments to the pipeline, economic sanctions could seriously endanger the NATO alliance. Defense Secretary Weinberger and Pentagon officials, urging unilateral enforcement of a broad ban, were willing to risk alienating America’s allies to prevent the Soviet Union from receiving any economic gain from the pipeline. Reagan finally dispatched a special mission to Europe in March 1982 to discuss his proposed sanctions. Everywhere the Reagan program faced rejection. Ultimately, on June 18, the president, in defiance of international law, authorized sanctions on U.S. firms, their European subsidiaries, and foreign companies producing equipment under U.S. licenses. Worried about their economies, officials in Bonn, Rome, Paris, and London announced separately that they would honor their pipeline contracts. The president’s action prompted some Europeans to question why, if so concerned about bringing economic pressure on the U.S.S.R., Washington had not canceled the sale of American grain to the Soviet Union. “We no longer speak the same language,” France’s foreign minister Cheysson complained. “The United States seems wholly indifferent to our problems.”24 As the controversy heated up, European governments instructed firms operating within their borders to fulfill their contracts with the Soviet Union. To West German Chancellor Schmidt, national sovereignty and the sanctity of contracts were at stake. Officials from the four countries directly involved met at London in September to organize a common policy of resistance to the Reagan sanctions. The dispute, said The Times (London) had “torn a nasty hole in the Western Alliance.” The Daily Mail added, “The Atlantic Alliance is a genuine partnership of free and independent nations, not a superpower plus a gaggle of satellites.”25 In the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers insisted that Washington should acknowledge that a firm must obey the laws of the country in which it operated. Administration critics warned that strict application of the pipeline sanctions could bring about reprisals that

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would endanger U.S. investments in Europe and, indeed, the future of the alliance. Washington, some predicted, had created a crisis it could not contain. Reagan had stressed that unity of the Western alliance was vital to improve relations with Moscow. Now wasn’t it also true, West Germany’s Hans-Dietrich Genscher observed, that agreement within the alliance on policy toward Moscow was equally vital for coherent Western actions?26 Opposed almost universally from the beginning to the unilateral bans, the State Department during the fall of 1982 planned a negotiated face-saving retreat. Before diplomatic action could begin, Reagan abruptly terminated the sanctions. Other disagreements continued to plague Washington and its Western European allies: Reagan policies toward the Third World, especially Central America, and his administration’s approach to the emerging Polish crisis. Many European leaders condemned every aspect of the White House’s policies aimed at Third World challenges. They ridiculed the administration’s claims that Soviet expansionism was the universal source of turmoil. “Americans see danger, revolution and terrorism everywhere,” declared Germany’s Der Spiegel, “and behind it all are the Russians.” Why would the administration make Central America a focal point of U.S.-Soviet confrontation? Why support a notoriously repressive government in El Salvador, send assistance to suppress the civil war there, and seek to overturn the government of Nicaragua? Some European writers, such as Robert Held of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, did endorse Reagan’s cause. “The Americans,” he wrote, “simply cannot afford to let the land bridge to the South American continent become a hegemonical [sic] zone of the Soviet Union.” A far larger number of critics questioned the U.S. commitment to the San Salvadoran government. If Rome’s Il Messaggero feared this policy could lead to another American error in judgment, such as Vietnam, Amsterdam’s conservative De Telegraaf warned that by introducing troops into El Salvador “[Reagan] would lose the right to criticize Moscow’s involvement in Afghanistan and Poland.”27 Ignoring Reagan’s Central America policies, French President Mitterand announced the sale of arms, equipment, helicopters, patrol boats, trucks, and rocket launchers to Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. Rejecting the White House’s plea to reconsider, Mitterand urged Reagan to follow the Mexican government’s lead and seek a diplomatic solution to El Salvador’s internal strife. Much like their American counterparts, European critics considered the political and social upheavals in

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Central America to be regional rather than global, indigenous rather than external. “President Reagan still sees in any Third World crisis the hand of the Soviet Union,” complained Andre Fontaine, editor of Paris’s Le Monde, in April 1982. “From here that appears ridiculous. You don’t need Russians to create situations like Nicaragua and El Salvador.” London’s The Sunday Times added, “The tendency to measure everything that happens in the world by the scale of East–West relationships... has done much to increase the sense of disunity and mistrust within the alliance.”28 Since they could not find any serious threat to their security in Third World conflicts, Europeans found them of little concern. Europeans also disagreed with Reagan’s anti-Soviet crusade in Europe. Not surprisingly, the December 1981 unrest in Poland became a divisive issue. When Warsaw’s Communist government announced a state of national emergency, established martial law, and called upon its military to crack down on the popular union-led Solidarity movement, European leaders expressed relief that Soviet armed forces were not involved. Whether or not Solidarity head Lech Walesa had attempted too much, Western Europeans expressed their sympathy and sent shipments of food. Washington officials, in contrast, held Moscow responsible for crushing Solidarity’s efforts to gain power. German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, however, refused to consider the administration’s proposed sanctions to be levied against the Kremlin. Undaunted by Europe’s refusal to cooperate, President Reagan, in late December, placed an embargo on all shipments of American technology to the Soviet Union, suspended Aeroflot flights to the United States, and restricted Soviet access to U.S. ports. He also refused to renew exchange agreements in energy, science, and technology. Once again, the administration was reminded that in its imposition of economic sanctions against the U.S.S.R., it had failed to consult its allies.29 Most European leaders rejected the president’s presumption that Moscow bore responsibility for the Polish government’s harsh actions. With 450,000 German jobs and over 700 companies relying on trade with the Soviet bloc, Bonn declared it would ignore the sanctions unless the Soviets actually invaded Poland. Paris announced that while it did not approve of the sanctions, it would not undermine them. In Britain, the conservative London Daily Telegraph warned that the dispute over sanctions revealed “snarling and back-biting of a type not seen since NATO began [and that threatened] to bring the alliance to ruin.” Why the White House failed to gain allied support for its initiative was obvious. Western

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Europeans, in keeping with the long-established principle, insisted that their interests required respect for the integrity of the European spheres of influence.30

Escalation of Tensions During the First Term The Reagan administration’s ideological crusade, virtually rejecting “the Soviet Union’s right to exist,” had inexcusably heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow. Former ambassador to Moscow, Malcolm Toon, found relations with the Soviets worse than at any time since World War II.31 Writing in the October 3, 1983, issue of The New Yorker, Soviet expert George F. Kennan noted that public discussion of Soviet–American relations seemed to indicate that only a military showdown could resolve the outstanding differences. “Can anyone mistake, or doubt,” he asked, “the ominous meaning of such a state of affairs? The phenomena just described…are the familiar characteristics, the unfailing characteristics, of a march toward war—that, and nothing else.” This grim assessment suggested that America was bent on creating a second, more dangerous Cold War. Oddly, the administration’s publicly stated insecurities arose at the same time Washington officials recognized the Soviet Union’s internal weaknesses. Some Americans had long held the Soviet Union’s status as a superpower to be a myth. Could a country be a superpower, if it could not provide the basic needs of its own people? Even many Cold Warriors believed the U.S.S.R. could not survive the West’s combined political, economic, and military pressures. They would accelerate the Soviet Union’s collapse by denying it Western trade, credits, and technology. One American naval officer argued, “We must pursue policies which aggravate its condition until it bleeds to death from within.” Reagan confidently assured the British Parliament, on June 8, 1982, that the march of freedom and democracy would “leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.” Given time and strong leadership, he declared, the forces of good would triumph over evil. Climaxing his castigation of the Soviet Union, the president defined it as “the focus of evil in the Modern World.” In a March 8, 1983 address to the National Association of Evangelicals, he warned that no nation could safely ignore “the aggressive impulses of an evil empire.”32 Such harsh rhetoric was ill received in Moscow. Various Soviet spokesmen complained that the United States had neither accepted the Soviet Union as a great power with legitimate

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global interests of its own, nor accorded the Kremlin’s view of the world any genuine or consistent attention, or acted as though it realized the two powers could live together or die together on this planet. Even more frequently, Soviet diplomats pointed to the endless ring of military bases surrounding their nation from Japan to Norway. How could there be long-term coexistence without genuine U.S. acceptance of Soviet legitimacy? “How can we deal with a man,” a Kremlin leader wondered, “who calls us outlaws, criminals, and the source of evil in the world?”33 Nowhere, critics pointed out, did the administration’s alleged toughness result in diplomatic achievements that improved America’s security. Reagan’s ideological approach, Stanley Hoffmann argued in Dead Ends (1983), “has turned out to be utterly deficient as a strategy because it fails to address many real problems, it aggravates others, it provides no priority other than the anti-Soviet imperative, and precious little guidance even in connection with the new Cold War.”34 Since rhetoric would not cause the Soviets to either back down or go away, he wondered, how did it further U.S. national interests for this animosity to close communications? The character of the Soviet power structure was irrelevant to the requirement of dealing openly and frankly with the Kremlin. “Like Mount Everest,” wrote Newsweek’s Meg Greenfield, in September 1983, “the Russians are there. And, like Mount Everest, their features are not exactly a mystery. We need to stop gasping and sighing and exclaiming and nearly dying of shock every time something truly disagreeable happens. We have to grow up and confront them—as they are.” Meanwhile, on September 1, 1983, the Soviets shot down a Korean commercial airliner (KAL 007) that had strayed over Russian territory. To Washington officials, the incident was additional evidence of Soviet paranoia and unconcern for human life. While the State Department called the disaster “brutal and unprovoked,” the president drafted a statement for the media. “What can we think of a regime that so broadly trumpets its vision of peace and global disarmament and yet so callously and quickly commits a terrorist act ? What can be said about Soviet credibility when they so flagrantly lie about such a heinous act [italics in original]?” The Soviet airline Aeroflot was ordered to close its American offices. New York and New Jersey denied Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko landing rights to attend the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, the first he had missed in twenty years.35 In perhaps the most comprehensive and categorical top-level Soviet denunciation of any U.S. administration since the early Cold War, Soviet

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premier Andropov condemned Reagan’s attitude toward the superpower relationship. The president’s ideological challenges risked the prospect of actual war, the Soviet leader declared on September 28. “To turn the battle of ideas into military confrontation would be too costly for the whole of mankind. But those who are blinded by anticommunism are evidently incapable of grasping this,” Andropov continued. “Starting with the bogey of a Soviet military threat, they have now proclaimed a crusade against socialism as a social system.”36 The reality of Andropov’s warning came two months later. Without notifying the Warsaw Pact countries, NATO had scheduled a command post exercise, code-named Able Archer, for November 2–11, 1983, to test nuclear release procedures. Uninformed of the exercise’s purpose, the Soviet Union went on a strategic intelligence alert. Days passed, and the attack did not come; the Soviets had apparently exaggerated the danger. Throughout the crisis—although they were aware of the turmoil in Moscow—Washington offered the Soviets no explanation. On November 16, Alexander Bovin, Izvestia’s political commentator, accused American leaders, blinded by their hatred of Communism, of ignoring the security interests of the Soviet Union and compelling the two countries to walk “the edge of the missile precipice.” From mid-1983 into 1984, according to CIA reports, senior officials in Moscow took “very seriously” the threat of a U.S. preemptive nuclear attack.37 Former diplomat W. Averell Harriman accurately summarized the situation. He warned Reagan on January 1, 1984, that his program of emphasizing military strength while denigrating diplomacy could lead to disaster. Blaming the Kremlin for the world’s current instabilities was, he wrote, “not a strategy or a policy…. It will not reshape the Russian nation; it will not bring down the Iron Curtain; and, above all, it will not reduce the nuclear threat that hangs over every American.”38 The “war scare” and subsequent criticism of the administration’s handling of the Able Archer episode may have moderated Reagan’s later comments about the Soviet Union. He was quite surprised to learn that “many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans.” Why would the Soviets have such fears, Reagan wondered: “I’d always felt that from our deeds it must be clear to anyone that Americans were a moral people who starting at the birth of our nation had always used our power only as a force of good in the world.”39

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Presidential Ambivalence Toward Arms Control With its early emphasis on increasing America’ nuclear armaments, its lack of interest in arms control and its harsh anti-Soviet rhetoric, the administration and its supporters fed the anxieties of antinuclear movements from the United States across Western Europe. Untroubled by the collapse of détente, ardent anticommunists openly acknowledged the possibility of hostilities. Reagan’s arms control chief, Eugene Rostow, noted, “We are living in a prewar and not a postwar world.” Even the president appeared ambivalent. Reagan had many times voiced his desire to see nuclear weapons eliminated; yet, in 1981, he told reporters that “the exchange of tactical [nuclear] weapons against troops in the field” need not bring “either of the major powers to pushing the button.” If Caspar Weinberger believed nuclear wars were not winnable, the defense secretary nevertheless insisted, “We are planning to prevail if we are attacked.” Echoing this opinion, White House advisor Thomas C. Reed, added, “Prevailing with pride is the principal new ingredient of American foreign policy.”40 West Germans, at the potential center of any European firestorm, were understandably upset with the apparent nonchalance in Washington about the prospects of fighting and winning a nuclear war.41 The rapidly expanding antinuclear movements failed to see how additional nuclear weapons could serve Western security or world peace. With U.S. strategic forces capable of striking Soviet targets with some 10,000 hydrogen warheads, many observers rejected the claim that the United States lacked a credible deterrence against a Soviet first strike. Stimulating the crusade against continuing the nuclear arms race was the obvious consequences the use of these weapons posed to the future of civilization. Jonathan Schell’s The Fate of the Earth (1982), followed by George Kennan’s The Nuclear Delusion (1982), aggravated the growing anxieties—as well as hopes. Although a cataclysmic nuclear conflict could result in the extinction of human life on the planet, Schell wrote, the danger lay not in intentional governmental action but in the chance of miscalculation. Four distinguished American students of strategy— McGeorge Bundy, George Kennan, Robert McNamara, and Gerard Smith—argued in Foreign Affairs (Spring 1982) that the United States, to limit the possibilities of nuclear war, should reverse its policy of three decades and promise never to use nuclear weapons first. It did not happen. To offset Moscow’s deployment of SS-20s, a significantly upgraded intermediate missile carrying three nuclear-tipped warheads, the United

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States began preparing in 1979 to counter such developments by deploying the 108 Pershing II and 464 ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) to West Germany, Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands, and Italy. Fear of a renewed nuclear arms race by the superpowers, who seemed to have no desire to control it, set off the powerful European peace movement of 1981. Washington’s exaggeration of the Soviet menace had clearly backfired as over two million Europeans joined antinuclear, and largely anti-American, demonstrations. In Bonn on October 10, 1981, nearly 250,000 demonstrators denounced NATO plans to modernize its nuclear defenses. One poster read, “Only Schmidt and the Cowboy Need Nuclear Protection.” Another German peace activist complained, “Talking to the superpowers about disarmament is like talking to drug dealers about stopping drug deliveries.” Similar protests sprang up in London and Paris. Some European neutralists opposed Soviet weapons no less than American. The marchers—churchmen, youth groups, and citizens of all classes and persuasions—were too numerous to be dismissed as a fringe movement. Chancellor Schmidt favored the emplacement of theater weapons and thought the protests to be “rubbish.” He argued, however, that mutual limitation of the Euromissiles were a very important priority.42 Unfortunately, he was addressing an administration that showed little enthusiasm for controlling arms. The president was on record opposing the 1963 Test Ban pact, the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1972 SALT I and ABM agreements, and the Helsinki Accords. During the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan denounced SALT II as “fatally flawed,” and claimed that it allowed the Soviet Union a “window of vulnerability” against U.S. land-based nuclear forces. Consequently, his administration spent its early months concerned with expanding and modernizing U.S. forces to offset the supposed Soviet military superiority. However, pressure from antinuclear protesters in NATO countries and the nuclear freeze movement at home, prompted the administration, in late 1981 to review the ongoing intermediate nuclear forces (INF) negotiations. These discussions stemmed from an earlier NATO decision for the United States to deploy the designated Pershing IIs and ground-launched cruise missiles if the Soviets could not be persuaded to remove their SS-20s. Attempting to pacify European demonstrators, the Reagan administration casually offered its “zero option” concept— the United States would cancel the deployment of its intermediate-range

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missiles, scheduled for two years in the future, in exchange for the Soviet’s withdrawal of its deployed SS-20s carrying some l,100 warheads.43 In May 1982, Reagan unveiled his two-phased proposal for the promised Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) that emphasized a “practical phased reduction” of strategic nuclear systems. Phase I would reduce warheads by a third and significantly cut back the number of ballistic missiles. It required the Soviets substantially to reduce their landbased ICBMs—their most effective strategic weapons—while the United States would retain most of its land-based Minutemen and deploy a hundred new large MXs missiles in similar silos. In addition, the United States could deploy its cruise missiles and modernize its submarine and bomber fleets. Subsequently, Phase II would require Soviets to reduce by almost two-thirds the aggregate throw weight of their missiles, while the U.S. suffered no cuts at all. If general public response was favorable, knowledgeable observers found the START formula, as with the earlier “zero option,” to be so one-sided it was nonnegotiable. “This proposal is so stacked against the Soviets,” the sponsor of the House’s nuclear freeze resolution Congressman Edward J. Markey complained, “there is little chance they will accept it.” Not surprisingly, Moscow ignored both of Washington’s proposals, while negotiations on nuclear weaponry limped along.44 To what extent Reagan actually understood the administration’s two proposals was open to question. On several occasions, his “allergy to detail” apparently resulted in his failure to grasp arms control issues. The president shocked congressional leaders in the fall of 1983 when it was evident he did not realize that most of the Soviet’s intercontinental nuclear missiles were land-based. Then, later, Reagan acknowledged that he “forgot” that America’s long-range bombers and cruise missiles carried nuclear warheads. When George Shultz became secretary of state in 1982, his basic disagreements with CIA director Casey, Secretary Weinberger and national security adviser Clark, prevented getting arms control issues on track. “Beginning in 1983 an internecine war began,” an insider wrote, “over how to deal with the Soviets that would rage for two years and smolder the rest of the Reagan administration.”45 Neither Washington nor Moscow was prepared for Reagan’s March 23, 1983, plea for a defense against nuclear-tipped missiles targeting American cities. After noting the nation’s security currently depended on nuclear deterrence, Reagan told his television audience,

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Let me share with you a vision of the future which offers hope. It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet military threat with measures that are defensive…. What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest on the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?” Without actually understanding the technological challenges ahead, Reagan called “upon the scientific community in this country, who gave us nuclear weapons… to give us the means of rendering these weapons impotent and obsolete.46

The program was officially named the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in January 1984, while critics quickly dubbed it “Star Wars.” Later the president suggested that the SDI “could be the greatest inducement to arms reduction.” Through the SDI, he added, “We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.” Reaction to Reagan’s proposal was understandably mixed. Favoring needed funding of SDI research, undersecretary of defense Richard Delauer, nonetheless worried it was becoming a “half-baked political travesty.” Facing the media, Minority Whip Robert Michel of Illinois thought the speech’s promises might be “a bit of overkill.” Yet, while many U.S. military leaders and most scientists believed a successful Star Wars program lay far in the future, its existence initially posed problems to Moscow. Yuri Andropov, Soviet leader since November 1982, viewed the SDI as a program to bury the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and unleash an arms race in offensive and defensive weapons. “Engaging in this is not just irresponsible, it is insane,” Andropov charged in a March 27 Pravda interview, “Washington’s actions are putting the entire world in jeopardy.” The SDI project would raise questions about the status of the ABM Treaty, haunt future arms control negotiations, and compete with other Pentagon agencies for funding.47

Shifts Toward Arms Control Considerations During Second Term As early as February 12, 1983, Reagan lamented that he had not visited Moscow or Beijing. Secretary Shultz explained such trips required significant improvement in Washington’s relations with leaders of the Communist powers. Three days later Shultz invited long-time Soviet ambassador

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Anatoly Dobrynin to the White House for discussion with the president on ways to improve U.S.-Soviet relations, arms control, and human rights. The two-hour meeting was Reagan’s first serious encounter with a Soviet official. Kremlin officials ignored the conversation, which they saw as a serious contradiction between Reagan’s military buildup, verbal abuse of the U.S.S.R., and his desire for better relations. In March, the president began exchanging messages with Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov. In his July 11 letter, Reagan emphasized his long-held antipathy toward nuclear weapons and noted that both leaders shared “an enormous responsibility for the preservation of stability in the world.” In October, Robert McFarlane, who had succeeded Clark as head of the National Security Council, advised the president that it was time for the United States to exploit its military buildup by negotiating arms limitations with the Soviet Union.48 Continuing his conciliatory efforts on January 25, 1984, Reagan pointed out that Soviets and Americans had never been at war. “And if we Americans have our way,” he declared, “they never will.” At Georgetown University on April 6, the president commented that the U.S.’s increased military power paved the way for successful negotiations. “If the new Soviet leadership is devoted to building a safer and more humane world, rather than expanding armed conquests,” he stated, “it will find a sympathetic partner in the West.” Both countries needed to accept the huge challenge of reducing the risk of nuclear war because, he warned, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Again, in June, the president expressed his willingness to meet Soviet leaders at a summit or anywhere else.49 Reagan ended his campaign for a second term determined to pursue closer ties with Moscow. In a speech before the United Nations, on October 24, he promised, if reelected, to seek an arms agreement with Moscow. Fortunately for Reagan and Shultz, during early 1985 a new, more promising leadership was emerging in Moscow. A rising star, Mikhail Gorbachev seemed destined to become head of the Soviet state, since Konstantin Chernenko, who had succeeded Andropov in February, was old and ill. When Gorbachev, with his wife Raisa, visited London in mid-December 1984, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher detected in Gorbachev’s predictable elevation new diplomatic opportunities. “I can do business with this man,” she informed the press.50 Following Chernenko’s death in March 1985, Gorbachev emerged as secretary general of the party, with a better grasp of the realities of international life than did his predecessors. His basic challenges lay in maintaining the U.S.S.R.’s

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international status while rescuing it from its present, overextended, debilitating global role—especially in Afghanistan—and stimulating a stagnate economy. Even as Gorbachev, an ardent admirer of Lenin and dedicated socialist, struggled with the Kremlin’s internal troubles, the full spectrum of his “new thinking” on foreign affairs began to emerge. In his campaign to cut Soviet losses abroad and military spending at home, while maintaining his international standing, Afghanistan with its massive physical and emotional drain on the Soviet people headed Moscow’s list of expendable commitments.51 The Kremlin’s unpopular war in Afghanistan, producing some 10,000 Soviet casualties a year without demonstrable success, sought only political stabilization. If officials in Moscow anticipated accurately the tenacity of the popular resistance, they overestimated the acceptability of the Kabul government. During 1985–1986, Gorbachev intensified the military operations, installed a stronger Afghan leader, and sought to save “Soviet credibility” before withdrawing. While the failed Afghanistan venture did not reach the stage of a “Russian Vietnam,” it comprised an endless draining of resources and public tolerance, and stood as a barrier to improved U.S.-Soviet relations. If Gorbachev focused less on Third World issues, he nevertheless was annoyed by what he saw as Reagan hypocrisy. In an April 23, 1985 speech, he pointed to Washington’s protestations of Moscow’s intervention in Afghanistan while claiming its “right to interfere” in Grenada and Nicaragua.52 When the issue of Central America was raised in later talks with Reagan or his staff, the Soviet leader retorted with “talk with Castro”—which Washington refused to do. By the summer of 1985, Reagan, however, did find someone in the Kremlin willing to discuss the possibility of reducing the threat of nuclear war, for Gorbachev had decided to move quickly to find ways of curbing the nuclear arms race. To the beleaguered Soviet leader, the only real solution for his country’s internal and external dilemmas lay in shifting resources away from the military-industrial complex to address shortages of food and other necessities. Moreover, he believed that “the policy of total, military confrontation has no future,” and that the “arms race, as well as nuclear war, cannot be won.” Equally significant, Gorbachev saw “the task of building security appears to be a political task, and it can be resolved only by political means.” This approach evoked criticism from veteran Soviet policy-makers, one of whom grumbled, “Are you against force, which is the only language that imperialism understands?”

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But Gorbachev’s “new thinking” overturned Stalin’s doctrine of “two camps” that had ruled Moscow since 1947.53 Following eight months of discussions, Reagan and Gorbachev prepared to meet at a Geneva Summit in November 1985. Gorbachev had made it clear he wanted to concentrate on curtailing the arms race. Perhaps inspired by his wife’s astrologer, historian Raymond Garthoff noted, “a limited but interesting transformation occurred in [Reagan’s] statements on the source and nature of the difficulties in American-Soviet relations.” Departing Washington for Geneva, the president said he hoped both nations would “seek to reduce the suspicions and mistrust that had led us to acquire mountains of strategic weapons.” He even conceded that nuclear weapons, not an evil opponent, posed “the greatest threat in human history to survival of the human race” and again declared “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Seeking to sabotage the meeting, Secretary Weinberger deliberately leaked a letter to the president on the eve of the summit that emphasized alleged Soviet violations of earlier arms control treaties, while carefully ignoring U.S. evasions, and urged Reagan not to agree to any limits on the anti-missile program.54 The Geneva summit, the first in six years, was essentially a media event. Gorbachev pressed arms control issues, especially limits on the Strategic Defense Initiative and maintaining SALT II and new arms reductions but found Reagan refusing to offer concessions on any of contested points. However, Reagan found that he could hold his own with the Soviet leader; even more, he saw Gorbachev as one with whom he shared “a kind of chemistry.” The most significant outcome of the summit undoubtedly was the rapport that developed between the two heads of state. They agreed to meet in Washington in 1987 and in Moscow during 1988. Not since the Nixon-Brezhnev summits of 1972 and 1973 did Soviet– American relations, fostered by arms control imperatives, appear more hopeful.55 In the months following the Geneva meeting, Gorbachev continued to stress the absurdity of the costly and potentially dangerous arms race. In an address to the United Nations in January 1986, he offered a grand plan for arms reductions, along with extensive Soviet concessions on nuclear weaponry. He would eliminate medium-range missiles, set aside the issue of French and British forces, and cut strategic weapons by 50 percent, including the SS-18 heavy missiles. According to a close adviser, Gorbachev had “already decided, come what may, to end the

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arms race.… because [he believes that] nobody is going to attack us even if we disarm completely.” Gorbachev’s ambitious economic modernization program, endorsed by the 27th Party Congress, in February–March, required the reduced military spending that would follow arms cuts. For him, the Soviet objective was the attainment of mutual security at the lowest possible strategic balance.56 The president, in late May 1986, announced that the United States would no longer be bound by the SALT II formula at the end of the year unless the Kremlin undertook undefined “constructive steps.” Critical European reaction followed. Le Figaro complained that Washington did not bother to ask Europe’s opinion. “It’s a disaster,” fumed Helmut Kohl. The Times (London) declared that the president had “come close to making one of the most controversial decisions in his six years in the White House…. Its impact on the Western alliance could be serious.” The Economist noted that half the Britons polled distrusted Reagan’s judgment and considered Americans equal to the Soviets as a threat to peace. In Washington, officials insisted that the president was justified in his action because of apparent Soviet cheating, but also acknowledged they had not anticipated Europe’s reaction. Gorbachev recognized Europe’s anxiety and offered a series of new arms proposals, which Pentagon officials routinely rejected. New York Times columnist James Reston, noted the preference for “ideological confrontation and warrior diplomacy…at the Pentagon and the White House.” To columnist Andrew J. Glass, “[T]he national security apparatus in the White House remains thoroughly fractionated. With so many hawks and pseudo-hawks flapping about in the Reagan aviary, it will muster all the administration’s ability in diplomatic falconry merely to fashion a cogent response to the latest Soviet initiative.”57 Meanwhile, Gorbachev topped European polls as the man of peace. In late August 1986, Reagan announced the United States would not exceed the limits imposed by the 1979 SALT II treaty before the October summit.58 In October, the two leaders met at Reykjavik, Iceland, initially focusing on the issue of intermediate-range missiles in Europe. Gorbachev opened negotiations by proposing to scrap all SS-20s in Europe, while retaining one hundred in Asia and allowing the U.S. one hundred similar missiles in Alaska. The final session took the Soviets by surprise. Reagan presented the “sweeping” U.S. proposals to eliminate all nuclear warheads by 2000, which his advisors were confident Gorbachev would reject. Startling everyone, the Soviet leader responded, “Yes.” He would accept Reagan’s

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proposal if the president agreed to limit SDI research to “laboratories” for at least five years. Reagan rejected Gorbachev’s counter-offer, declaring he would not compromise his missile defense project.59 One is left with the impression that Reagan had confused his priorities, for, when his long-held desire to eliminate nuclear weapons loomed, he clung to the Strategic Defense Initiative. This system was still essentially in the planning stage, there was no evidence if it would work and, if it eventually should, when it might be available. Faced with such uncertainty, he might have compromised and satisfied his wish to eliminate the nuclear threat. Reagan and Gorbachev departed Reykjavik, both disappointed and exhausted. However, Western military strategists and political leaders—and most certainly Soviet marshals—were shaken by news of a near-agreement to abolish nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hurried to Washington, warning Reagan that the nuclear deterrence strategy had been the bedrock of almost forty years of United States and European security.60

Nuclear Diplomacy at Its Finest: The INF Treaty While not everyone agreed, Gorbachev’s strategy of ending the Cold War by reducing the nuclear threat did find widespread popular approval. He surprised Pentagon hard-liners, on February 28, 1987, by accepting their proposal to eliminate all intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe. Secretary of State Shultz immediately accepted Gorbachev’s offer. Negotiators subsequently agreed to destroy 2,611 intermediate-range missiles with flight ranges from 300 to 3,440 miles or 500 to 5,000 km, including U.S. Pershing IIs and cruise missiles and Soviet SS-4s, SS-12s, SS-20s, and SS-23s.61 When Defense Secretary Weinberger and other hard-liners demanded on-site inspections, Gorbachev agreed to an “intrusive verification” plan where each power would inspect the other’s facilities to fulfill Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty terms. Soviet enthusiasm for intrusive inspections gave pause to the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and the CIA. They realized they did not want the Soviets prowling U.S. defense plants, nuclear-armed submarines, and missile sites. As Weinberger’s replacement, Frank Carlucci, admitted, “[V]erification has proven to be more complex than we thought it would be. The flip side of the coin is its application to us. The more we think about it, the more difficult it becomes.” Now the U.S. desired less intrusive procedures.62

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The Washington summit of December 1987, to sign the INF Treaty, turned out to be a Reagan-Gorbachev triumph as the media coverage was hugely favorable. The Soviet leader and his wife were so enthusiastically greeted in the normally blasé capital, that it prompted Washington Post columnist Tom Shales to observe the city was seized by “Gorby fever.” When Gorbachev expressed concerned about the criticism that Reagan was receiving from hard-liners, Shultz reassured him, “[T]he vast majority of American support what President Reagan is doing.” Indeed, “for the first time in history,” Reagan declared when signing the INF treaty on December 8, “the language of ‘arms control’ was replaced by ‘arms reduction’ in this case, the complete elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles.”63 Critics of the treaty wasted no time in weighing in. Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, writing jointly, insisted the pact damaged relations with European allies, increased the threat from Soviet conventional forces, and failed to reduce the Kremlin’s long-range nuclear arsenal. For William F. Buckley, the INF treaty constituted unilateral disarmament, threatening to leave the West naked before the Soviet enemy. The most hysterical outburst came from two of the right’s leading activists, Richard Viguerie and Howard Phillips. “It is with deep regret that we who have supported President Reagan in so many battles during the past 20 years now must begin to publicly separate ourselves from our former leader,” Viguerie observed bitterly. “We feel alienated, abandoned and rejected.” Phillips simply denounced Reagan as “a useful idiot for Soviet propaganda.”64 The signing of the INF treaty failed to spur the talks toward a strategic arms reduction treaty. Although the Soviets offered several concessions, interminable bureaucratic delays hampered Washington’s attempts to substantially modify its initial START proposal—indeed an agreement would not be reached until 1991. Meanwhile, the intractability of various American bureaucracies over the specific terms was frequently more intense than the negotiations with Moscow. This bickering led an unhappy member of the National Security Council to suggest, “Even if the Soviets did not exist, we might not get a START treaty because of disagreements on our side.” If the Soviets “came to us,” another highranking U.S. official complained, “and said, ‘You write it, we’ll sign it,’ we still couldn’t do it.”65 The Kremlin’s concern about Reagan’s strategic missile defense program gradually dissipated. Andrei Sakharov persuaded Gorbachev there was no defense that could stop a barrage of intercontinental ballistic

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missiles carrying decoys and multiple warheads. He argued that SDI was a kind of “Maginot line in space,” a line that could not defeat concentrated missile attacks any more than the French Maginot defense line stopped the German blitzkrieg in 1940. Soviet scientists recognized that the SDI program was a “fuss about nothing.” As Roald Z. Sagdeyev, the head of the Soviet Institute for Space Research told Strobe Talbott, “We came to realize that we had not helped ourselves by screaming so much about SDI…we had overestimated how much damage SDI could do to strategic stability in the short run and even in the medium term.”66 With the vast majority of the Senate favoring the INF treaty and Reagan’s assurance that he was negotiating from strength, ratification came on May 29, 1988, as the president left for the Moscow summit. The significance of this triumphant meeting was the reintroduction of détente. On Sunday, May 29, 1988, as Reagan received a warm welcome at the Kremlin, Gorbachev declared, “[H]istory has objectively bound our two countries by a common responsibility for the destinies of mankind.” On Tuesday, as Reagan walked through Red Square, he commented publicly that the two leaders had “decided to talk to each other instead of about each other. It’s working just fine.” In the Kremlin, when asked by a reporter what became of the 1983 “evil empire,” the president replied, “I was talking about another time, another era.” Since the U.S. Senate approved the INF treaty, Gorbachev and Reagan signed the ratification documents at the final ceremony.67 If short on achievement, the summit had been long on goodwill. The treaty’s remarkably extensive and intrusive inspection and monitoring arrangements were based on the “any time and place” proposal of March 1987. Gorbachev’s acceptance of such verification caught Washington by surprise and unprepared, even though earlier U.S. arms limitation proposals had insisted on it. Cold War hawks in the past always counted on Moscow’s rejection of on-site inspections demands to kill any arms limitation offer, but now the Pentagon, National Security Agency, and CIA had to consider the price of verification. The dual implications of on-site inspections had these officials bristling at the thought of Soviet inspectors prowling U.S. defense plants, nuclear-armed submarines, and missile sites. At every meeting with Soviet leaders, Reagan had repeated the Russian proverb “trust but verify.” Now, however, the U.S. willingly accepted less intrusive procedures. Nonetheless, the INF’s on-site inspection regime lasted for 13 years, during which time the United States would conduct over 511 inspections in Russia, and Russia 275 similar

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inspections in the United States. The new Soviet position on verification not only removed the hurdle that long had seemed insurmountable, but according to the U.S. ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, became a symbol of the new trust developing in U.S.-Soviet relations, which made the treaty and further progress on arms control possible. Robert Gates of the CIA placed responsibility for making the INF treaty possible where it was due: “thanks almost entirely to continuing concessions from Gorbachev.”68 The Washington summit of December 1987 can be considered as a defining Reagan-Gorbachev triumph in arms control. When Gorbachev arrived, Secretary Shultz recounts, he was “upbeat, positive, animated, and eager.” But as indicated, the Russian leader was also somewhat taken aback by the stark criticism that Reagan was receiving from Washington hardliners; although he was reassured that the majority of Americans were supportive of what both leaders were about to embark on. As an illustration of the occasion, the “fever” the Gorbachevs generated saw them meet with a wide-ranging group of celebrities that included Billy Graham, Henry Kissinger, and Yoko Ono. Notwithstanding the symbolism of the surrounding events, however, the breakthrough INF treaty enabled “for the first time in history,” Reagan declared, the rhetoric “of ‘arms control’ to be supplanted by ‘arms reduction’,” [and] in this instance, the comprehensive removal “of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles.” For his part, Gorbachev responded that this treaty “offers a big chance at last to get onto the road leading away from the threat of catastrophe. It is our duty … to move forward toward a nuclear-free world … [that is] without fear and without a senseless waste of resources on weapons of destruction….” Although only some four percent of the superpowers’ nuclear arsenal would be eliminated by the INF pact, it did initiate a marked shift in the process of arms control and coinciding reductions.69

Conclusion Predictably, hardliners again criticized Reagan’s seemingly new penchant for arms control. Buckley continued to assert that the Soviet Union, with its human rights violations, remained the evil empire. George Will’s judgment of the Moscow summit served for most hawks. To fellow conservatives, he wrote, “Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy has produced much surprise but little delight. His fourth and, one prays, final summit is

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a suitable occasion for conservatives to look back with bewilderment and ahead with trepidation.” In his final White House years, as Will saw it, the president had ruined his earlier, superb foreign and military policy.70 Among anti-Soviet hard-liners, inside and outside Washington, the ultimate Reagan triumphs had emerged with the Reagan Doctrine, followed in 1986 by the vote for contra aid, the warm White House welcome for Angola’s Jonas Savimbi, and the destructive bombing of Libyan targets in response to Qaddafi’s alleged terrorist activities in Europe. Despite criticism from the right, it seemed apparent that moderates were gaining the ascendancy in the administration’s turf wars over foreign policy. Secretary of State Shultz had organized the State Department into an effective group for conducting negotiations with the Soviets. Together with Frank Carlucci as the new secretary of defense and Colin L. Powell as national security adviser, the Reagan administration finally had three top advisers who were in general agreement. As one administration spokesman phrased it in March 1988, “Over the past three years we have established a broad, active, and quietly developing relationship, almost from a cold start in ‘85.” For the president, the move toward moderation appeared to be less a broad philosophical change than the slow, pragmatic evolution of policy.71 The pragmatists understood that there was no choice but to coexist on the planet with the U.S.S.R. and regarded Gorbachev a durable Soviet leader. They agreed with his December 7, 1988 address before the United Nations, where he criticized the reliance on nuclear arms. Gorbachev, at this time, reached the high point of his global leadership by pledging the unilateral reduction of Soviet military forces by 500,000 personnel and withdrawing forces from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Reagan departed the White House convinced that the Cold War was over, and Gorbachev awaited initiatives from the new president that would continue easing American-Soviet tensions and reducing nuclear arsenals. The subsequent unraveling of the Soviet empire was an unintended side effect of Gorbachev’s effort at reform—termination of the Cold War was not. Reagan deserves some credit for recognizing Gorbachev’s sincerity and determination to significantly alter earlier Soviet foreign policies. For this, Reagan felt the wrath of anticommunist hawks for “doing business” with a Communist leader. It was Gorbachev, however, who recognized that both of the superpowers had become “mesmerized by ideological myths” which ruled out any meaningful discussions of possible political accommodation for more than four decades. Even the

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long-time Soviet ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Dobrynin, acknowledged in his memoirs, Moscow’s Cold War policies were “unreasonably dominated by ideology, and [that] this produced continued confrontation.” Gorbachev broke the Cold War’s ideological straitjacket that had paralyzed Moscow and Washington’s ability to resolve their nuclear differences and, in doing so, faced greater political, even physical, risks. Considering all of this, it would be difficult to avoid the conclusion that without Gorbachev, the end of the Cold War could have played out much differently and very dangerously.72 With the end of the Cold War the nuclear arms race also virtually halted, but not the threat from nuclear weaponry. The global concern with nuclear nonproliferation that took on a formal guise in the 1970s treaty was viewed with a renewed urgency in the twenty-first century. Once again, the question is posed: Does the spread of nuclear weapons (and missiles) make the world safer or more dangerous? In regional rivalries such as the subcontinent, East Asia, and the Middle East, the bomb still has influence—great influence. Kenneth Waltz maintains, for example, that nuclear weapons preserve an “imperfect peace” on the subcontinent between India and Pakistan. Responding to reports that all Pentagon war games involving India and Pakistan always end in a nuclear exchange, Waltz argues: “Has everyone in that building forgotten that deterrence works precisely because nuclear states fear that conventional military engagements may escalate to the nuclear level, and therefore they draw back from the brink?”73 Whatever else one has to say—and not much has been left unsaid about the nuclear strategy of the past seventy plus years—nuclear status still imparts extraordinary prestige and power. The threat of terrorists with a nuclear capability has given rise to new global concern. The risk of nuclear weapons or fissile materials falling into the wrong hands seems greater since the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. The smuggling of highly enriched uranium that could be used for a nuclear instrument of destruction has subsequently prompted great concern. In particular, there has been an ongoing worry of Russia’s nuclear weapons or materials falling into the hands of terrorists. According to Graham Allison, “Thousands of weapons and tens of thousands of potential weapons (softball-size lumps of highly enriched uranium and plutonium) remain today in unsecured storage facilities in Russia, vulnerable to theft by determined criminals who could then sell them to terrorists.” In the years since the end of the Cold War, there have

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been numerous cases of theft of nuclear materials in which the thieves were captured, sometimes in Russia, on other occasions in the Czech Republic, Germany, and elsewhere.74 How effective are the methods employed to limit terrorist access to nuclear materials? How effective have the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, Global Threat Reduction Initiative, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group been to this end? Prominent world leaders have suggested putting the genie back in the bottle—but is it possible? In this sense, then, our historical account may not provide an answer to every question or even to the basic question of whether nuclear weapons helped or hindered the search for stability during the Cold War. Yet as Bernard Brodie suggested in his War and Peace, we hope it may sharpen one’s “receptivity to appropriate insights about these problems.”75

Notes 1. Newsweek (September 1, 1980): 18; Anthony Lewis in The Daily Progress (Charlottesville), October 31, 1980; Elements of this chapter have been adapted from Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns), A Global History of the Nuclear Arms Race: Weapons, Strategy, and Politics, 2 vols. (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2013); and Siracusa’s study (with Richard Dean Burns, Norman A. Graebner), America And The Cold War, 1941–1991 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2010). 2. Reagan quoted in George C. Herring, “The ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ and American Foreign Policy,” Virginia Quarterly Review 57 (Autumn 1981): 612. 3. Frances Fitzgerald, Way Out in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War (New York: Simon & Shuster, 2000), 27–31. 4. For a superb evaluation of the Reagan foreign policy team see Hedrick Smith in The New York Times, May 25, 1980; Van Cleave interview in The Week in Review, ibid., October 12, 1980; see also Richard Pipes, “Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight & Win a Nuclear War.” Commentary 64:1 (July 1977) 21–34. Richard Burt offers a long discussion of the Reagan view of Soviet power in The New York Times, December 7, 1980. 5. John A. Marcum, “The United States at the U.N.: The Kirkpatrick Era,” Worldview 24 (June 1981): 20; Newsweek (March 30, 1981): 32. 6. Reagan quoted in Newsweek, February 9, 1981, 45. 7. Opening Statement at Confirmation Hearings, January 9, 1981, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Current Policy No. 257; New York Times, May 3, 1981.

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8. Steven R. Weisman, “Reaganomics and the President’s Men,” New York Times Magazine (October 24, 1982): 83–85. 9. Drew Middleton, New York Times, January 3, 1982; Richard Halloran, New York Times, April 11, 1982. 10. Middleton, New York Times, June 21, 1981 and February 14, 1982. 11. James M. Fallows, National Defense (New York: Random House, 1981), 70–71, 163; Christopher Paine, “A False START,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 38 (August/September 1982): 13; New York Daily News, “Report from Munich,” February 20, 1982, 6. 12. U.S. News & World Report (November 3, 1980): 62; Lou Cannon and Lee Lescaze in The Washington Post, March 29, 1981; “A New Direction in U.S. Foreign Policy,” (April 24, 1981), U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Current Policy No. 275, 2; Haig quoted in The Daily Progress, May 10, 1981. 13. Seweryn Bialer and Joan Afferica, “Reagan and Russia,” Foreign Affairs 61 (Winter 1982–83): 71; “Promoting Democracy and Peace,” U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Current Policy No. 399, 3–5. 14. Anthony Lewis in The Daily Progress, May 6, 1981; Helen Thomas in ibid., May 16, 1981; James Reston in The New York Times, July 17, 1981. 15. Alexander M. Haig, Jr., Caveat, Realism, Reagan and Foreign Policy (New York: Macmillan, 1984). 16. Also see Joseph M. Siracusa and David G. Coleman, Depression to Cold War: A History of America from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 249–50; Public Papers of the Presidents: Ronald Reagan, 1981 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1981), I, 957, 958. 17. Bernard Gwertzman, New York Times, June 21, 1981 and March 14, 1982; Robert W. Tucker, “America in Decline: The Foreign Policy of ‘Maturity,’” Foreign Affairs 58:3 (1980): 480, 484; Newsweek, June 15, 1981. 18. See Kiguel Schapira, “Wanted: A Foreign Policy,” World Press Review (January 1982); Roger Fisher, New York Times, March 30, 1980. 19. See editorial, The New York Times, March 22, 1981. 20. Walto Stumpt, “South Africa’s Nuclear Weapons Program: From Deterrence to Dismantlement,” Arms Control Today (December 1995/ January 1996): 3–8. In 1993, President F. W. DeKlerk admitted that South Africa had built six atomic bombs, since dismantled, but did not shed any light on the 1979 incident. 21. For the Ottawa Conference, see Leslie H. Gelb, New York Times, July 19, 26, 1981. 22. Pipes quoted by Stephen S. Rosenfeld, Washington Post, October 8, 1982. 23. Reston, New York Times, February 7, 1982.

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24. For the debate within the administration, see Bernard Gwertzman, New York Times, February 21, 1982; For the Reagan announcement and the bitter European reaction, see World Press Review 29 (August 1982): 4; Flora Lewis, New York Times, June 27, 1982. 25. Steven Ratner, New York Times, August 29, 1982. 26. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, “Toward an Overall Western Strategy for Peace, Freedom, and Progress,” Foreign Affairs 61 (Fall 1982): 42. 27. Quoted in World Press Review 29 (April 1982): 12. 28. Newsweek, March 22, 1982, 42. 29. Times Herald Record, December 24, 1981; see also, Norman A. Graebner, “Western Disunity: It’s Challenge to America,” The Reynolds Distinguished Lecture Series, Davidson College, Fall 1982, 34. 30. Manchester Guardian quoted in World Press Review 29 (February 1982): 14; Ronald Steel, New York Times, January 3, 1982. 31. Lawrence T. Caldwell and Robert Legvold, “Reagan through Soviet Eyes,” Foreign Policy 52 (Fall 1983): 5. 32. Remarks to Members of the British Parliament, June 8, 1982, Public Papers of the Presidents: Reagan, 1982, I (Washington, DC: GPO, 1983), 747–48; Remarks at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983, Public Papers of the Presidents, 363–64. 33. Graebner, “The Soviet-American Conflict,” 583; Christian News, April 18, 1983, 1. 34. Leslie H. Gelb, “The Week in Review,” New York Times, May 1, 1983, E1; Stanley Hoffmann, Dead Ends: American Foreign Policy in the New Cold War (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1983), 154–55. 35. Reagan’s Address to Congress, September 5, 1983, American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1983 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1985), 544– 47. 36. Strobe Talbott, The Russians and Reagan (New York: Vintage, 1984), 122, appendix. 37. Alexander Bovin quoted in World Press Review 31 (January 1984): 53; for the impact of “Able Archer,” see Gates, From the Shadows, 270–73. 38. New York Times, January l, 1984, E13. 39. Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: An American Life. (New York: Pocket Books, 1990), 588–89. 40. Richard J. Barnet, New Yorker (October 17, 198): l53; Christopher Paine, “A False START,” BAS 38 (August/September 82): 14; see also Douglas C. Waller, Congress and the Nuclear Freeze (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1987). 41. Barnet, New Yorker, 156. 42. Ibid.; Judith Miller, New York Times, August 23, 1981. Steve Breyman, Why Movements Matter: The West German Peace Movement and U.S. Arms Control Policy (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001), 47, 93–95.

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43. Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue, 88–96; Waller, Congress and the Nuclear Freeze, 14; Thomas Graham, Jr., Disarmament Sketches: Three Decades of Arms Control and International Law (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2002), 103. 44. Fitzgerald, Way Out There in The Blue, 153–54; Waller, Congress and the Nuclear Freeze, 94–97, 99. 45. Leslie Gelb, “The Mind of the President,” New York Times Magazine (October 6, 1985): 21ff; Lou Cannon, “Dealings with the Soviets Raise Uncomfortable Questions,” Washington Post, July 2, 1984, A13; Gates, In the Shadows, 287, 289. 46. Edward Reiss, The Strategic Defense Initiative (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992); McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years (New York: Random House, 1988), 571; Reagan, An American Life, 571–72. 47. John Tirman, “The Politics of Star Wars,” in John Tirman, ed., The Empty Promise: The Growing Case Against Star Wars (Boston, MA: Beacon, 1986); Union of Concerned Scientists, The Fallacy of Star Wars (New York: Vintage, 1984); and Richard Dean Burns and Lester M. Brune, The Quest for Missile Defenses, 1944–2003 (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 2003), 77ff. 48. State of the Union Address, January 25, 1984, American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1984 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1986), 28; Address at Georgetown University, April 6, 1984, American Foreign Policy, 8. 49. James Reston in New York Times, June 17, 1984, E21; Address on U.S.Soviet Relations, January 16, 1984, Public Papers of the Presidents: Ronald Reagan, 1984, I (Washington, DC: GPO, 1986), 42; John Newhouse, “Annals of Diplomacy: The Abolitionist—II,” New Yorker (January 9, 1989): 51. 50. For Gorbachev in London, New York Times, December 16, 1984, 1, 5. 51. See Robert D. English, Russia and the Idea of the West: Gorbachev, Intellectuals & the End of the Cold War (New York: University of Columbia Press, 2000), esp. ch. 6 and Vladislav M. Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2007), 278ff. 52. Adam Ulam, Dangerous Relations: The Soviet Union in World Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 266–67; Zubok, A Failed Empire, 283–84. 53. Quoted in Zubok, A Failed Empire, 286. 54. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, 598; Raymond L. Garthoff, The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1994), 235–38. 55. See Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, 596–607; Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev, ch. 6.

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56. English, Russia and the Idea of the West, 206; Philip Taubman, New York Times, April 6, 1986. 57. For compliance, see John Newhouse, New Yorker (January 9, 1989): 59– 61; James Reston, New York Times, April 6, 1986, E23. 58. Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, June 7, 1987, 7; New York Times August 29, 1986. 59. Garthoff, The Great Transition, 252–67; Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, 751–55; Mikhail Gorbachev, Reykjavik: Results and Lessons (Madison, CT: Sphinx Press, 1987); also see “The Reykjavik File: Previously Secret Documents from U.S. and Soviet Archives on the 1986 ReaganGorbachev Summit,” posted October 13, 2006 by the National Security Archive, George Washington University at https://www.nsarchive.org. 60. David K. Shipler, “The Week in Review,” New York Times, October 26, 1986, E1. 61. Garthoff, Transition, 327n.64; Shultz, Turmoil, 1009–1015; Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue, 426. 62. Newhouse, New Yorker (January 9, 1989): 65–66; Lou Cannon, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime (New York: Public Affairs, 1991), 694; Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue, 444–45. 63. Lou Cannon and Gary Lee, Washington Post, May 30, 1988, A1, A21. 64. Washington Post, October 12, 1987, A19; For a critique of Phillips and Viguerie, see James J. Kilpatrick, Washington Post, December 15, 1987, A23. 65. Quoted in Fitzgerald, Way Out There In The Blue, 445. 66. Andrei Sakarov, Moscow and Beyond (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991), 21–42; Strobe Talbott, Master of the Game: Paul Nitze and the Nuclear Peace (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), 306. 67. Lou Cannon and Gary Lee, Washington Post, May 30, 1988, A1, A21; Don Oberdorfer, Washington Post, June 1, 1988, A1. 68. Zubok, A Failed Empire, 300–301; Newhouse, New Yorker, January 9, 1989: 65–66; Cannon, President Reagan, 694; Fitzgerald, Way Out There in the Blue, 444–45; Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996, 423); Washington Post, October 31, 1987, A1, A17; ibid., December 9, 1987, A1; Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, ibid., December 11, 1987, A27; Cannon, President Reagan, 695–98, Shultz, Turmoil, 1009–11. 69. Ibid. 70. Washington Post, June 7, 1988, A23; ibid., May 29, 1988, C7. 71. New York Times, July 10, 1988, E30; see David K. Shipler, ibid., May 29, 1988, E1, E3. 72. Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 211; Dobrynin, In Confidence, 472.

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73. Waltz quoted in David G. Coleman and Joseph M. Siracusa, Real-World Nuclear Deterrence: The Making of International Strategy (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006), 108. 74. Graham Allison, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Times Books, 2004), 1. 75. Bernard Brodie, War and Peace (New York: Macmillan, 1973), 451.

Afterword

The awestruck observers who stood in the New Mexico desert, on July 16, 1945, were reduced to introspection by the enormous mushroom cloud that filled the sky. Most of them realized they had witnessed a turning point in the history of human civilization, for they had let the nuclear genie out of the bottle with little likelihood of putting it back. They had built an atomic bomb with the hope of ending a war, but reaped history’s unintended consequences. More than any other weapon humankind had yet unleashed, nuclear weapons were designed not to target just military forces, but urban-industrial centers as well. Since they could protect as they threatened the very essence of life on earth, past nuclear weapons strategies often appeared at odds with notions of security since any use would entail global devastation. In the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, critics of the bomb across the last seven decades have expressed alarm that the spread of nuclear weapons would inevitably lead to worldwide destruction. So far, that prediction has not been proved right, but is that due, borrowing a phrase from former secretary of state Dean Acheson after the Cuban Missile Crisis, to just plain dumb luck? Or, due to the growing realization that the possession of nuclear weapons was inherently limited in its political and military utility, and therefore, abstaining from using them was the only sane policy? The nine current members of the nuclear weapon club—the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1

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North Korea—possess thousands of operational nuclear weapons of various types between them. Additionally, at least another fifteen countries have on hand enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. But the question remains: What does a nation do with the bomb once it has it? It is a question all members of the nuclear club have confronted at one time or another. Most national nuclear weapons programs thus far have had as their objective simply having the bomb, not using it.1 Why divert so much in the way of national resources to developing a weapon that is politically limited and theoretically self-deterring? Security and prestige are the most frequently cited justifications for national nuclear ambitions but neither of those ends is served by actual use. In fact, during the post-World War II era, the bomb acquired such a political or moral stigma that security and prestige would likely be rapidly undone for any nation that broke the nuclear taboo and actually used an atomic or nuclear weapon against an adversary. But how long will this taboo govern the use of nuclear weaponry? As conveyed during this book, Cold War political officials frequently justified the construction of thousands of nuclear warheads and their delivery vehicles in order to “negotiate from strength,” to build up, before building down. But rarely was mentioned just what would be negotiated: would it be the contested political, economic, or territorial issues at the heart of the Cold War? Or were the superpowers, as Mikhail Gorbachev later concluded, “mesmerized by ideological myths?” When negotiations occurred, they rarely sought to define the Cold War’s fundamental differences; instead, they focused on the strategic weaponry itself. All American nuclear weapons strategists, at least until the late 1960s, held as self-evident that the U.S. must possess a superior military prowess over the Soviet Union. Likewise, Soviet leaders of its military-industrial complex, Andrei Grechko and Dmitry Ustinov, persistently and vigorously resisted efforts to restrict the expansion of Soviet military strength, opposed any attempt to limit the nation’s strategic missiles, and strove for parity if not superiority. As arsenals and delivery systems expanded, military chiefs of both superpowers worried about the other’s first strike or preventive capability. “Thus, each side feared the other’s strategy and believed that a preemptive option was essential for nuclear planning,” William Burr has posted for the National Security Archive, “even if it was difficult to implement successfully and highly dangerous, for example, the risk of a false warning leading to an accidental and horrific nuclear exchange.” Nuclear warheads and delivery systems became disconnected

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from the political and economic dimensions separating the two superpowers. These weapons of mass destruction had taken on a life of their own in each country as their scientific-military-industrial bureaucracies pressed for the development and production of more and more new weapons. In the process, was each nation actually increasing its security or had they somewhere along this road, as an early critic Ralph Lapp wrote, lost their way and became “guided by the compass of technology” without consideration of its consequences?2 Whether nuclear weapons have been a force for peace is still frequently debated. Even seventy-five years after the beginning of the Cold War— including the decade and a half after its conclusion—there is still no unanimity on how important nuclear weapons have been in keeping the peace. For the forty-five years of the Cold War, what historian John Lewis Gaddis called “the long peace,” there was not an outbreak of direct, major conflict between the major powers, an unprecedented accomplishment.3 But how much of that peace was due to nuclear weapons and how much despite them? Political scientist John Mueller stirred controversy in 1988 by suggesting that nuclear weapons were “essentially irrelevant” to keeping the peace, that even without these devastating weapons, a major war had simply become too costly for any rational power to enter into.4 It is an argument that goes against the grain of most thinking on the Cold War. Superpower statesmen certainly believed that nuclear weapons were, indeed, relevant and that they fundamentally altered their adversaries’ policies, perceptions, and decisions. As more and more documents and records have become available in international archives, the conclusion that the bomb had profoundly affected the course of international history over the past seven plus decades is inescapable. As historian John Lewis Gaddis put it, “prior to that moment, improvements in weaponry had, with very few exceptions, increased the costs of fighting wars without reducing the propensity to do so.”5 Likewise, Marc Trachtenberg has written that “The nuclear revolution was like a great earthquake, setting off a series of shock waves, that gradually worked their way through the world political system.”6 By contrast, Michael Mandelbaum has argued that although nuclear weapons were revolutionary in several important respects and had significant effects on political behavior, “They have not produced a revolutionary change in the international system” and had “not produced a political revolution comparable to the technical revolution they represent.” Like many of the major issues concerning nuclear weapons, then, the debate about whether

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nuclear weapons have helped or hindered the cause of peace remains an ongoing source of consternation. One American diplomat who dealt with nuclear technology and weapons, Gerald C. Smith, offered a definite opinion: “Myth, misconception and plain ignorance have often influenced U.S. policy” and surely its adversaries as well. “We have avoided nuclear cataclysm as much through Providence as through wise or well-informed policy.”7 Of course, the clarity of the Cold War world has given way to the ambiguities and uncertainties of a world today where global security is threatened by regime collapse, nuclear terrorism, new nuclear weapons states, regional conflict, emerging technologies, and preexisting nuclear arsenals that are modernizing. The dangers inherent in such a mix are in themselves greatly magnified by easier access to nuclear technology, inadequately protected stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, the growing availability of missiles worldwide, black market nuclear supply networks, and a trend toward acquisition of “latent” nuclear weapons capabilities through the possession of the entire nuclear fuel cycle. The results are clear: of all the potential threats to the global community today (including global warming and global health concerns), nuclear weapons, the most deadly weapon ever invented—and really the only true weapon of mass destruction—probably pose the greatest risk. As such, in simpler terms, nuclear security still matters. Initially, several nations possessed rudimentary knowledge of the theoretical basis of an atomic bomb, but only the United Stateswith Britain’s scientific assistance poured the resources into the quest for technology to develop the atomic bomb. After the devastation at Hiroshima the “race” for more efficient nuclear weapons began in earnest, and during the next four decades that contest was primarily between the United States and the Soviet Union, as the two technologically driven superpowers constructed enormous nuclear arsenals during their Cold War. A corresponding and equally significant “race” involved the development and refinement of delivery systems, first long-range bombers and then ballistic missiles—the latter greatly increasing the reach and potential destructiveness of nuclear weaponry. Consequently, any nation seeking to use nuclear weapons as a serious lever in international politics found its influence substantially governed by the means it had available to deliver them. During various stages of the nuclear era, aircraft, land- and sea-based ballistic missiles, and other generally discounted means—suitcases, trucks, merchant ships, etc.—became factors of equal concern with the nuclear weaponry itself.

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Aircraft carrying nuclear bombs—between take-off and reaching their targets—initially provided an opportunity for a lengthy, perhaps hours, warning of their impending delivery. As told in such dramatic episodes as Dr. Strangelove and Fail-Safe, the fictitious adversaries had ample time to consider political and military alternatives. The advent of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) allowed no such luxury. These weapons drastically reduced the time between launch, actual or suspected, and delivery of nuclear warheads required leaders to respond quickly, within minutes of warning. Ultimately, retaliatory nuclear forces were expected to be ready to “launch on warning,” thus greatly increasing the possibility that erroneous information from one’s warning system might cause an unintended nuclear exchange. Indeed, the race to create more sophisticated missiles and components soon engaged as much or more political concern than the cargo they carried. Even before longrange guided ballistic missiles became partnered to nuclear cargoes, both superpowers were “racing” to devise countermeasures. The quest for antiballistic missile systems, confronted as it has been with serious technical challenges, found many supporters and perhaps even more critics. As the various races for more effective nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and antiballistic missiles appeared to threaten the stability of the Cold War’s environment, the superpowers and other nations simultaneously began looking for political (arms control) measures to lessen the prospects of an unintended holocaust. This process, which began in the 1960s, gradually took on increasing importance and even managed to result in the reduction of, and restrictions on, certain nuclear weaponry and delivery systems in the final years of the Cold War. In his farewell address to the American people, delivered on January 17, 1961, President Eisenhower noted the conjunction of an immense military establishment and large arms industry, each in itself necessary, was new in the American experience. Recognizing the imperative need of basing American security on possession of the latest scientific and military technology, he warned his fellow citizens that they must not fail to comprehend its grave implication. Specifically, he went on, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” In the circumstances, the president concluded, “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of

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the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” He also wanted to mention their Congressional allies but chose not to do so, out of a sense of political propriety. As a citizen-soldier citizen, and because of his long experience in both the army and the presidency, Eisenhower knew firsthand the invidious connection between industrialists and bureaucrats in their domination of the American defense establishment. He himself presided over the growth of America’s nuclear arsenal from 1,000 warheads in 1953 to more than 18,000 when he left office. His message was clear, his remedy less so. Eisenhower’s warning about the potential of the military-industrial complex has surely come to pass. The waste produced by the American defense establishment—not to mention the Soviet/Russian defense establishment, and the others—has amounted to a policy of national profligacy. Taking just one example, from 1940 to 1996, according to the Brookings Institution’s Atomic Audit, the United States spent almost $5.5 trillion (in constant 1996 dollars) on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs. This was 29% of all military spending from 1940 (beginning with the Manhattan Project) through 1996 ($18.7 trillion). Put another way, this figure exceeded all other categories of government spending except nonnuclear national defense ($13.2 trillion) and social security ($7.9 trillion) amounting to almost 11% of all government expenditures through 1996. During this period, American administrations spent on average nearly $98 billion a year developing and maintaining its nuclear capabilities. Yet, there was another dimension to these costs. Most of this spending was done in secret, not only at a financial cost of some $3.4 billion, but, much more significantly, was each administration’s reliance on untraceable and unreported budgets. “[T]he nuclear secrecy system,” according to the authors of Atomic Audit, “has had adverse implications for informed congressional and public debate over nuclear policy, constitutional guarantees, government accountability, and civilian control over the military.” The result of this unprecedented secrecy, Professor Janet Farrell Brodie argues, contributed greatly to the emerging security state as “the U.S. civilian society became increasingly militarized during the Cold War.” Eisenhower was well to worry.8 In fast forwarding to the present, some 25 years on from the Brookings report, a broader set of statistics from the nuclear age provides a sobering reminder of the scale of the problem. Upwards of 128,000 nuclear weapons have been produced in the past 75 years, of which about

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98% were produced by the United States and the former Soviet Union. The nine current members of the nuclear club—the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—still possess 22,400 operational nuclear weapons between them, a thousand of which are ready to fire at moment’s notice, enough to destroy the Earth’s inhabitant many times over. At least another 15 countries currently have on hand enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. In light of the failure of major players to act on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or on the treaty to cut off production of nuclear weapons material in recent years (as two examples), it is any wonder that, in January 2020, the iconic Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moved closer than ever, where it is 100 seconds to midnight. As stated, “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.”9 For some analysts and scholars in the WMD domain, the only unconditional resolution to the issue of nuclear weapons is to push for their comprehensive abolition, and to secure the very stockpiles of the highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium on which they are dependent. This has—and will continue to be—an elongated and multilayered route, and its end will require all existing nuclear-armed states to reassert their obligation toward eventual elimination, and actually mean what they say. Indeed, if one contemplates the disarmament and nonproliferation efforts10 over the last two decades, it is quite evident that new impetus for change has been difficult to sustain when positive developments can so easily be erased. The Cold War’s end ushered in a brief but relatively industrious period of nuclear disarmament and threat reduction deeds that still can be learned from. This included the decommissioning and removal of thousands of warheads from the astonishing level of 70,000 weapons that “peaked in the mid-1980s.”11 Certainly, at its highest level of intensity, the Cold War was a global structure of states that revolved around the United States and the Soviet Union. It did not define everything that was going on in the world of international affairs, but it affected most things. At its heart was an ideological competition between capitalism and socialism that had

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been going on throughout the twentieth century, with each side zealously committed to its system of economics and governance. It was a bipolar system that at times seemed to veer closely toward notions of total victory or total defeat, in which neither of the main protagonists could foresee an enduring conciliation with the other. The Cold War was intense, categorical, and highly dangerous: strategic nuclear weapons systems were intended to destroy the superpower opponent, even at a cost of devastating half the world. But as discussed throughout this book, the Cold War also saw arms control diplomacy play a significant role in the relationship between the United States and Soviet Union. While the agreements infrequently compelled either state to undertake substantial modifications in its intended nuclear forces, the arms control process, and the formal negotiations and fora, were often one of the limited means for exchange between the United States and Soviet Union. Since the end of 1945, U.S. national security strategy concentrated on several core, interconnected objectives. These consisted of improving U.S. security at home and abroad; promoting U.S. economic prosperity; and advocating open markets and democracy around the globe. In this regard, the United States has used both unilateral and multilateral methods to accomplish these goals, with varying levels of emphasis at different times. Such methods have included an assortment of military, diplomatic, and economic instruments. In terms of specifically protecting and advancing its security interests, it has: deployed military forces to discourage, dissuade, persuade, or compel others; created a system of alliances and coalitions to improve U.S. interests and counteract aggression; and utilized U.S. economic power to press its agenda or stimulate democratization, or to enact sanctions or withhold U.S. economic assistance to denounce or penalize states adverse to U.S. interests. As such, arms control and nonproliferation efforts have been two of the tools that the U.S. president has periodically used to execute its national security strategy. As conveyed in the above, while the United States has generally not undertaken these activities as ends in and of themselves, in many instances, its efficient employment has been crucial to the execution of that broader strategy.12 Across several U.S. presidential administrations, arms control measures have served as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, military or economic efforts. In this light, such measures have frequently enhanced U.S. national security, including the imposition of monitoring

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mechanisms and forms of transparency that could engender U.S. knowledge pertaining to the size, composition, and operations of an opposing military force. This has not only improved U.S. military planning but has also worked to diminish an adversary’s motivations for and prospects to attack U.S. forces, or the forces of its friends and allies. As the Cold War revealed, proliferation can exacerbate tensions and run precariously close to conflict, or potentially, introduce new and unforeseen threats to U.S. allies or the U.S. homeland. Additionally, proliferation has had the capacity to extensively complicate U.S. national military strategy, force structure design, and execution of operations.13 As such, the United States has sought to employ diplomatic, economic, and military tools to restrain these threats and enhance its national security. Here, policy-makers have designed arms control measures to supplement U.S. force structure goals by reducing or controlling U.S. and other nations’ forces. In periods of diminishing defense budget resources, arms control measures have also enabled reciprocity in force reductions. Similarly, U.S. officials across several Administrations have identified and pursued endeavors to thwart the additional proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery to be a critical component of contributing to U.S. national security. Further, many have also investigated the potential use of analogous tools to support other states with assistance in containing and controlling weapons and weapons-grade materials.14 Of course, the Trump Administration, like the Bush Administration, did not hold back in conveying its skepticism and at times, an unbridled disdain toward the role that arms control and nonproliferation agreements could play in bolstering U.S. national security. In the last four years, the United States has pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Nuclear Deal) and the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. After numerous allegations presented by the United States against Russia for noncompliance, the Trump administration also proceeded to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty in May 2020, while simultaneously undertaking serious internal discussions about recommencing nuclear weapons testing. At the time, these actions were very concerning for the future of the most defining of bilateral nuclear arms control agreements between the U.S. and the Russian Federation: The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). New START was set expire on February 5, 2021, unless incoming President Joe Biden and President Putin agreed to extend it for up to five years.15 If allowed to expire, it would have

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been the first time since 1972 that both states would have had no limits on increasing their nuclear arsenals. While some of these views signify the mounting concerns pertaining to Russian conformity with existing arms control agreements, they also derive from the perception of some that arms control do too much to limit U.S. agility and too little to restrict the capabilities of others.16 In attempting to unpack, elucidate and provide an understanding of how we have arrived at this critical point, our study traversed four delineated historical eras across nine presidents: America’s nuclear monopoly, America’s nuclear superiority, superpower parity, and the concluding stages of the Cold War era. Lastly, we attempted to describe and examine the historical efforts, aimed at the international control of the atom, as well the creation of the diplomatic architecture that makes up the foundation of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime that we see very much on the ropes today. Given debates surrounding a “new” Cold War, the deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States, the concurrent challenges being made by key nuclear states in obfuscating arms control mechanisms while simultaneously engaging in proliferation/modernization activities, this monograph has attempted to provide a much needed revisit (and historical contextualization) into U.S. presidential thinking and foreign policy during the Cold War. Indeed, across nine chapters, this book traced the United States’ nuclear diplomacy and Presidential strategic thought, transitioning across the early period of Cold War arms racing through to the era’s defining conclusion when arms control fora and seminal agreements were devised, implemented, and provided a needed base to bring down the specter of a cataclysmic nuclear war.

Notes 1. Non-state organizations such as large terrorist groups might not conform to this rule. The intelligence community consensus is that if terrorists acquired nuclear weapons they probably would use them. As yet no terrorist group has demonstrated atomic capability, but fears have heightened since September 11, 2001. See Anthony H. Cordesman, Terrorism, Asymmetric Warfare, and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Defending the U.S. Homeland (Westport: Praeger, 2002); Graham Allison, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Times Books, 2004). 2. Nina Tannenwald, “Stigmatizing the Bomb: Origins of the Nuclear Taboo,” International Security 29:4 (Spring 2005): 5–49; Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World

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3.

4. 5. 6. 7.

8.

9. 10.

11.

12.

13. 14.

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(New York: Harper & Row, 1987), 211; Vladislav Zubok, A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 151, 202; William Burr, “New Evidence on the Origins of Overkill,” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 236 (Updated October 1, 2009); Ralph E. Lapp, Arms Beyond Doubt: The Tyranny of Weapons Technology (New York: Cowles, 1970), 3–4. John Lewis Gaddis, The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987); Robert Jervis, “The Political Effects of Nuclear Weapons,” International Security 13:2 (Fall 1988): 80–90. John Mueller, “The Essential Irrelevance of Nuclear Weapons: Stability in the Postwar World,” International Security 13:2 (Fall 1998): 55–79. John Lewis Gaddis, We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (New York: Clarendon Press, 1997), 85. Marc Trachtenberg, History and Strategy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991), 146. Michael Mandelbaum, The Nuclear Revolution: International Politics Before and After Hiroshima (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 8–9; Gerald C. Smith, Disarming Diplomat: The Memoirs of Gerald C. Smith, Arms Control Negotiator (Lantham: Madison Books, 1996), xiii. Steven I. Schwartz, et al., Atomic Audit: The Cost and Consequences of U. S. Nuclear Weapons since 1940 (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1983), 3, 434; Janet Farrell Brodie, “Learning Secrecy in the Early Cold War: The RAND Corporation,” Diplomatic History 35:4 (September 2011): 643. “Doomsday Clock,” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, January 23, 2020, https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/faq/. See “Nuclear Non-proliferation Chronology of Key Events,” IAEA.org, https://www.iaea.org/Publications/Factsheets/English/npt_chrono. html#2000. Melissa Gillis, Disarmament: A Basic Guide, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs United Nations, New York, NY, 2009, https:// www.un.org/disarmament/HomePage/ODAPublications/AdhocPublica tions/PDF/guide.pdf. Amy F. Woolf, Mary Beth D. Nikitin and Paul K. Kerr, “Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements,” Congressional Research Service Report, Washington, DC, March 26, 2020, https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL33865.pdf. Ibid. Ibid.

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15. Daniel Puentes, “A Pivotal Moment in US-Russian Arms Control,” Union of Concerned Scientists, https://blog.ucsusa.org/science-blogger/a-piv otal-moment-in-us-russian-arms-control. 16. Woolf, Nikitin and Kerr.

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Index

A Acheson–Lilienthal Report, 36 Afghanistan, 6, 177, 190, 194, 196–199, 202, 212, 219 Alexander M. Haig, Jr., 190, 193, 194, 196–198, 222 Allen, Richard V., 180, 192, 197 Andropov, Yuri, 206, 210, 211 Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty, 152, 210 Anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs), 142, 151, 208 Arms control, 2–4, 9, 10, 13–15, 99–101, 116, 119, 140, 150, 152, 157, 167, 177, 191, 192, 207, 209–211, 213, 216, 218, 231, 234–236 Atomic Energy Agency, 99, 140 Attlee, Clement, 59, 60, 88

B Bay of Pigs, 104, 110

Berlin, 1, 2, 13, 38, 48, 102, 103, 110, 172 Bowles, Chester, 97 Bretton Woods, 41 Brezhnev, Leonid, 141, 143, 148, 152, 153, 156, 171, 177, 179, 185 Britain, 22, 36, 37, 40, 63, 64, 73, 80, 88, 108, 111–117, 137, 154, 155, 203, 208, 227, 230 Brodie, Bernard, 70, 84, 85, 221, 226 Brown, Harold, 172, 182 Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 168, 170–172, 174, 182, 183, 185 Bundy, McGeorge, 30, 33, 97, 105, 106, 109, 111, 123, 136, 140, 207, 224 Bush, George W., 10, 11, 17, 18, 179, 235 Bush, Vannevar, 20 Byrnes, James F., 16, 20, 22, 24, 28–32, 34, 36

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 A. Warren and J. M. Siracusa, US Presidents and Cold War Nuclear Diplomacy, The Evolving American Presidency, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61954-1

257

258

INDEX

C Carter Doctrine, 198 Carter, Jimmy, 157, 167–175, 177, 179–186, 190, 192, 197 Castro, Fidel, 104, 107, 110, 212 Central America, 191, 202, 203, 212 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 11, 66, 104, 105, 134, 158, 162, 179, 180, 197, 199, 206, 209, 215, 217, 218 China, 4, 14, 22, 24, 51, 54, 58–60, 64, 65, 71, 88, 89, 97, 128, 133–137, 141, 143, 148, 155, 161, 163, 169–171, 176, 227, 233 Churchill, Winston, 19, 22, 30, 48, 50, 87, 88 Clayton, William, 20 Clifford, Clark, 35, 126 Committee on the Present Danger (CPD), 62, 180, 181 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), 118, 233 Compton, Arthur H., 21 Compton, Karl, 20, 27, 33 Conference of the Committee on Disarmament, 150 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), 157, 158 Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, 14 Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, 221 Cuba Missile Crisis, 104

D Defense Department, 76, 117, 141, 197, 200 Deng Xiaoping, 170

Détente, 15, 139, 143, 144, 152–154, 156, 158–162, 169, 171, 173, 182, 200, 207, 217 Deterrence, 53, 58, 61, 80, 81, 85, 89, 115, 138, 176, 192, 207, 209, 215, 220 Dobrynin, Anatoly, 108, 109, 152, 161, 164, 165, 211, 220, 225 Dulles, John Foster, 71–74, 76, 79–81, 84, 85, 90–92, 97, 100

E Eastern Europe, 4, 7, 10, 11, 29, 43, 45, 48, 64, 65, 72–75, 88, 99, 102, 127, 131–133, 139, 148, 154, 158, 161, 178 Eberstadt Committee, 52 Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC), 101 Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference (ENDC), 140 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 63, 71, 73–75, 77–79, 81, 87–91, 94, 95, 99, 100, 112, 135, 181, 197, 231, 232 Emperor Hirohito, 24, 25, 32 Enola Gay, 24 European Economic Community (EEC), 113

F Fermi, Enrico, 21 Finletter, Thomas K., 33, 88, 94 Ford, Gerald, 156–158, 160, 163, 165, 174 France, 38, 63, 64, 66, 103, 108, 112–115, 118, 136–138, 155, 163, 173, 191, 200, 201, 227, 233 French President Mitterand, 202

INDEX

Fulbright, J. William, 97, 119, 124, 128, 144

G Gates, Robert, 158, 165, 218, 225 Genscher, Hans-Dietrich, 202, 203, 223 Germany, 10, 29, 38, 39, 41, 42, 44, 47, 48, 63–65, 87, 100, 102, 115, 127, 133, 155, 221 Gilpatric Committee, 141 Global Threat Reduction Initiative, 221 Gorbachev, Mikhail, 1, 11, 189, 190, 192, 211–220, 224, 225, 228, 236 Graham, Daniel O., 192 Grenada and Nicaragua, 212 Gromyko, Andrei, 36, 106, 117, 150, 205 Ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs), 178, 208 Groves, Leslie, 19–21

H Harriman, W. Averell, 22, 31, 50, 117, 206 Helsinki accords, 158, 208 Helsinki Final Act, 157, 158 Hilsman, Roger, 134 Hiroshima, 20, 24–29, 31–33, 174, 227, 230 House Armed Services Committee, 53 Hughes, Thomas L., 129, 144

I Ikle, Fred C., 32, 192 India, 4, 98, 198, 220, 227, 233 Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), 78, 82, 83, 105, 138,

259

142, 152, 153, 156, 157, 177, 209, 217, 231 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, 3, 14, 235 Iran, 4, 162, 182, 190 Iraq, 182, 198 Israel, 162, 198, 199, 227, 233

J Jackson, Henry M., 78, 153, 156, 158, 187 Japan, 10, 20–24, 26–28, 30, 31, 40, 41, 44, 64, 65, 149, 155, 168, 172, 205 Japanese surrender, 25, 27, 32 Johnson, Lyndon B., 78, 116, 119, 123, 132–134, 136, 140, 142, 143, 145, 150, 151 Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), 16, 37, 49, 53, 59, 75, 99, 141, 142, 153 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran Nuclear Deal), 235

K Kahn, Herman, 84 Kaufmann, William, 84, 85, 94 Keegan, George J., 182, 187 Kennan, George F., 2, 39, 47–50, 53–55, 125, 128, 144, 181, 187, 204, 207 Kennedy, John F., 9, 80, 87, 95–105, 116, 119, 126, 130 Kennedy, Robert, 106–109 Keyserling, Leon, 57 Khrushchev, Nikita, 22, 79, 101–110, 116, 117, 119, 128, 130, 148, 179 Kirkpatrick, Jeanne, 192, 197

260

INDEX

Kissinger, Henry A., 84, 147, 150– 165, 168, 169, 172–174, 181, 182, 187, 192, 216, 218 Korea, 24, 44, 59, 60, 62, 64, 65, 71, 76, 88, 139 Kuznetsov, Vasily V., 110

L Lawrence, Ernest O., 21, 53 Lefever, Ernest W., 193 Louis St. Laurent, 79, 93

M MAD, 15 Malenkov, Georgi, 80, 83 Manhattan Project, 19–22, 28, 232 Marshall, Charles Burton, 159, 165, 180 Marshall Plan, 35, 41 McCloy, John J., 39, 50, 63, 101, 110 Middle East, 4, 6, 64, 128, 156, 160, 163, 180, 182, 190, 191, 198, 200, 220 Multilateral Defense Force (MLF), 114, 136 Multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRVs), 142 Mutual Defense Assistance Act, 37 Mutual Defense Treaty, 170 MX, 157, 194

N Nagasaki, 24, 27, 31, 32, 227 National Security Council (NSC), 37, 44, 46, 50, 55, 61, 68, 81, 83, 92, 109, 184, 192, 197, 199, 211, 216 National Strategy Committee, 139 NATO allies, 79, 86, 172

New START Treaty, 3 Nitze, Paul H., 10, 55–57, 59, 63, 78, 106, 153, 159, 179–181 Nixon, Richard M., 136, 142, 144, 147–156, 159, 161, 164, 169, 172, 173, 178, 216 Non-proliferation, 4, 99, 119, 134, 141, 200, 233, 236 Norstad, Lauris, 86, 87, 94 North Atlantic Council, 86, 87 North Korea, 169, 228, 233 NSC 7, 44, 50 NSC 20/1, 45, 50 NSC 68, 55–58, 61, 63, 68, 69, 179 NSC 149/1, 75 NSC 162, 76, 92 Nuclear Suppliers Group, 221

O OPEC, 182, 200 Open Skies Treaty, 3, 14, 235 Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 21, 25, 33, 84

P Pakistan, 198, 220, 227, 233 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), 116, 117 Pipes, Richard, 159, 179, 181, 187, 192, 200, 221, 222 Pompidou, Georges, 137 Potsdam Conference, 20–22, 72, 74 Potsdam Declaration, 22–24, 31

R Reagan Doctrine, 12, 219 Reagan, Ronald, 5, 12, 157, 158, 177, 189–219, 221–224 Reagan second term, 192, 211 Reagan’s “evil empire” speech, 192

INDEX

Ridgway, Matthew B., 76, 92, 182 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 19, 30, 74 Rostow, Eugene, 180, 207 Rostow, Walt W., 97, 109, 123 Rusk, Dean, 10, 59, 97, 106, 133, 150, 180 Russia, 1–3, 13, 14, 22, 26, 42, 62, 65, 139, 217, 220, 227, 233, 236 Russian invasion of Afghanistan, 182 S Secretary of Defense, 52, 97, 99, 105, 106, 219 Secretary Shultz, 210, 218 Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), 99 Skybolt project, 114 Socorro, New Mexico, 21 Soviet SS-4s, SS-12s, SS-20s, and SS-23s, 215 Spaatz, Carl A., 24 Sputnik, 82, 83, 85 SS-20s, 207–209, 214 Stalin, Joseph, 5, 19, 22, 29, 38, 39, 42, 43, 91, 99, 100, 131, 213 State Department, 4, 24, 39, 72, 105, 129, 133, 137, 141, 155, 177, 180, 184, 197, 199, 201, 202, 205, 219 Stevenson, Adlai, 97, 106, 107 Stimson, Henry L., 20–22, 25, 27–30, 33 Strategic Air Command (SAC), 85 Strategic arms limitation talks (SALT), 143, 151 Strategic arms limitation talks (SALT II), 17, 157, 167, 174, 175, 177, 178, 213, 214 Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), 156, 231 Szilard, Leo, 21, 27, 33, 34

261

T Taiwan, 79, 134, 135, 170, 171 Third World, 12, 45, 128, 129, 149, 152, 159, 160, 168, 178–181, 190, 192, 202, 203, 212 Threshold Ban Treaty (TTBT), 118 Trans-Atlantic partnership, 115, 155 Trilateral Commission, 167, 168, 172 Truman, Harry, 5, 19, 20, 22, 24–30, 32, 34–36, 46, 47, 52–55, 58–60, 62, 63, 67, 68, 71–74, 83, 87–89, 97, 138 Trump, Donald J., 3, 15, 235 Tucker, Robert W., 192, 198, 222 U Ugarte, Augusto Pinochet, 162 United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, 36 United States (U.S.), 1–15, 17, 19– 22, 25, 26, 28, 29, 32, 35–37, 39–66, 70, 72–86, 88–90, 95–98, 100–105, 107–120, 125–143, 147–152, 154, 155, 157–163, 165, 168–173, 175, 176, 178, 180–182, 190–196, 198–203, 205–211, 213–218, 220, 222, 227, 228, 230, 232–236 UN Security Council, 59, 60 U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 101, 137, 140, 141, 175 U.S. Pershing IIs, 208, 215 U.S.S.R., 4–6, 9, 11, 19, 20, 22, 24, 28, 36, 37, 41–46, 55–57, 59, 64, 65, 71, 73, 75, 78, 97, 100, 102, 104, 107–109, 119, 125–131, 134, 139, 140, 154, 156, 159–161, 163, 167, 169, 173–176, 178, 179, 181, 183, 196, 197, 201, 203, 204, 211, 219 U-2 flight, 104

262

INDEX

V Vance, Cyrus, 168–175, 185 Van Cleave, William R., 192, 194, 221 ‘Vietnam Syndrome’, 190, 221 W Warsaw Pact, 87, 151, 158, 206 Weinberger, Caspar W., 194, 196, 197, 201, 207, 209, 213, 215

Wohlstetter, Albert, 84–86, 94 World War II, 3, 7, 150, 204 Y Yalta Conference, 22, 24, 28, 72, 74 Z Zedong, Mao, 169 Zhou Enlai, 169