Influence Patterns in a Contentious Political Environment
Policy differences, minimized early, became substantial in the latter half of the Carter administration and directly influenced the future of SALT II. In one typical example involving Cuba and the Soviets, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cyrus Vance responded in opposite ways. When intelligence reports of Soviet MIG-23 aircraft in Cuba surfaced in early 1979, Brzezinski linked their presence in Cuba to Soviet revolutionary activities around the world.1 Vance, however, was not inclined to make that linkage: "Anything relating to the Soviet military role in Cuba is politically volatile in the United States. It is guaranteed to inflame domestic opinion and make sensible resolution difficult. I felt that unless we could close off the issue quickly and satisfactorily, it could set back U.S.-Soviet relations and present us with a major domestic problem."2Vance did not want regional flare-ups to stall progress on arms control negotiations and general U.S.-Soviet relations.
As noted earlier, deep cleavages among the principal advisors emerged during the second half of the administration and came to influence the future of SALT II. In the open advisory system, it became common knowledge that the collegial atmosphere had disappeared, being replaced by policy and turf battles. Essentially, this meant that the advisory system had a predisposition to conflict that left the president facing divergent opinions and influence tactics on the part of advisors, each of whom wanted to shape the policy agenda. In his memoirs, Anatoly Dobrynin reflected upon the president's difficulty in choosing among his advisors. To him, Carter's inability to give "consistent direction"