Global Instability and Strategic Crisis

By Neville Brown | Go to book overview

1

Through 11 September

A revolution unfolds, 1985-2001

Mikhail Gorbachev assumed power in the Kremlin in March 1985. Soon he emerged as a prime mover in what one may identify as the third and last of the great turning points of the Cold War. The first had been the peace agreements in Korea then Indo-China in 1953-4. They came hard upon the death of Stalin, though also the acquisition by each Superpower of thermonuclear warheads, the more advanced form of atomic firepower that derives not from the fission of heavy nuclei but from the fusion of hydrogen ones. Then, in 1962, the resolution of the Cuba missile crisis betokened the conclusive acknowledgement by both Washington and Moscow that a global nuclear exchange would be the ultimate in gratuitous folly.

What Secretary Gorbachev did with aplomb as well as dispatch was concede, in effect, that his adversaries in the West had won the Cold War. He thereby set in motion a more profound alteration in the complexion and structure of the European continent than had anyone since Martin Luther. In Gorbachev's case, it does seem that a decisive influence was the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI): the quest for comprehensive missile defence launched by President Reagan in March 1983. Some of us had apprehended that SDI would invoke a hard-line Soviet response, a reassertion of garrison state belligerency. Nor can anyone deny things could have turned out thus. After all, the USSR was in deep crisis internally by 1985-6, a crisis brought on by political immobility leading to underachievement in virtually every field bar certain aspects of military or Space-related technology. In fact, however, the panache SDI expressed convinced the Gorbachev entourage their side had neither the resources nor the enterprise to compete, never mind the unusually cogent critique of SDI then emanating from within their Academy of Sciences. 1

Indications that SDI did have this impact have come from several quarters. 2 Personally I was most persuaded by Roald Sagdeev, lecturing at Oxford in the spring of 1992. Through the middle 1980s, he had headed the Institute for Space Research at the Soviet Academy of Sciences. Arguing how decisive SDI was, he came across as eminently reasonable and trustworthy. Perhaps the only caveat to enter is that it was in 1986, too, that the

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Global Instability and Strategic Crisis
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • The Author ix
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Part I - The Strategic Revolution 1
  • 1 - Through 11 September 3
  • 2 - The Poverty of Strategy 32
  • 3 - A War on Terror? 45
  • 4 - Saddam, Slow Decline and Rapid Fall 59
  • Part II - Limited World War? 71
  • 5 - Social Instability 73
  • 6 - Macabre Lethality 100
  • 7 - The Ascent of the Missile 122
  • Part III - Defence Against Missiles 131
  • 8 - Ballistic Encounter 133
  • 9 - Terrestrial Coverage 156
  • 10 - The Heavens Subverted? 163
  • Part IV - The Quest for Strategy 181
  • 11 - Pax Atlantica? 183
  • 12 - Arms in Moderation 197
  • 13 - Planetary Internationalism 217
  • 14 - Strategy Transcended 243
  • Appendix A 265
  • Appendix B 272
  • Further Reading 279
  • Notes 281
  • Index 303
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