The Carter Years: Toward a New Global Order

By Richard C. Thornton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
SALT II, Cuba, and Central America: The Pursuit of Illusion

W hen SALT II was finally signed in mid- 1979, prospects for ratification were fragile, as evidence mounted of extensive Soviet proxy involvement through Cuba in Central America, particularly in Nicaragua, and in the Carribean. The possibility of SALT II's failing to be ratified because of Soviet involvement in the promotion of revolution in the Western Hemisphere, in blatant disregard of American interests, was a stark challenge to the strategy Secretary Vance was pursuing. It prompted him to pose explicitly to Moscow the question of whether relations with the United States would be based on cooperation and detente, or on competition and confrontation.

This was the significance of the seemingly arcane dispute over the Soviet brigade in Cuba, which occurred midway through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's consideration of SALT II. A successful resolution of this issue would have demonstrated Moscow's interest in cooperation with the United States, thus facilitating ratification of SALT II. Soviet rejection of cooperation, however, left no alternative to continued competition between the two superpowers, a position made unmistakable by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which sounded the death knell for the strategy Secretary Vance had been pursuing.

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