The Superpowers and Nuclear Arms Control: Rhetoric and Reality

By Dennis Menos | Go to book overview
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4
Tearing Down the Few Past Accomplishments

Until the mid- 1980s, the superpowers have kept arms control under their complete control through a combination of irrelevant policies, lots of hype and game playing (especially at the United Nations), and a generally lackluster attitude when confronted with a serious arms control challenge. About that time, however, the superpowers' approach to arms control took an ominous turn. No longer satisfied with their role as casual bystanders, the superpowers have embarked on a policy of arms control "self-destruct," a conscientious effort to withdraw from the process and to undo the few positive accomplishments of the past forty years. Notwithstanding the successive series of Reagan--Gorbachev summits and conclusion of the INF treaty 1--all, skillfully designed to convey the impression of arms control "momentum"--the self-destruct policies of the superpowers continue to occupy center stage. Evidence the unceremonious termination of the SALT II treaty and the not-so-secret plans of Moscow and Washington soon to also discard the ABM treaty.

The policies adopted by the superpowers to discredit and bring about the demise of arms control have a great deal in common. As usual, those of the Soviet Union are a lot more circumspect and devious. Moscow's game plan is to infuse so much propaganda and uncertainty into its arms limitation agenda as to bring about a total U.S. disenchantment with arms control, eventually leading to a formal American withdrawal from the process. Enormous public relations benefit would accrue to the Soviet Union from such a U.S. action. For its part, the American side has built its entire case of arms control disengagement on the issue of Soviet arms treaty noncompliance. 2 Especially during the Reagan years, allegations of Soviet treaty violations have been used and abused with such finesse as to injure fatally the Soviet

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