Collapse of negotiations in 1983 resulted largely from the Soviet hard line on preventing any new American INF deployments. Progressive Soviet offers and unilateral actions to reduce European SS-20 forces were aimed at preventing U.S. deployment, not at reaching a new bilateral balance. Significantly, by the fall of 1983, the positions of both sides had converged on agreement to permit around 100 SS-20s in Europe and slightly fewer in Asia. But the two sides were far apart on the critical question of how many U.S. forces would be permitted in Europe. To get some new missiles deployed, the United States was willing to live with some SS-20s; Soviet leaders continued to see new American missiles as unacceptable. Soviet political calculations that they could play to European public opinion by portraying the United States as the revisionist power turned out to be wildly optimistic.
American policy makers, therefore, continually modified their offers in the face of pressure from allies, Soviet intransigence, and internal bureaucratic struggles. The key shifts were the decisions in the fall of 1983 to permit some Soviet INF if they were matched by U.S. systems and the acceptance of residual Soviet forces in Asia. These positions were more than tactical bargaining shifts, despite public statements that zero was the only real goal. They represented important accommodations to Western allies' concerns and the outcomes of bureaucratic battles. They were not evidence of hanging tough on the original position.
Relatively comfortable with the deployments, and having paid a fairly high political price to get them, NATO's leaders were caught by their own promises when faced with Soviet concession in 1986 and 1987. In the end, Rogers argued, "political credibility [of NATO's European leaders] took a higher priority than that of the deterrence of NATO [sic]." 51 While his analysis of the treaty's strategic failings is open to question, he correctly identifies the motivation for agreement and the source of the alliance's discomfort.
Thus the manner, timing, and motivations for shifts in American negotiating positions did not fit well with a model of how a tough bargaining strategy should work. Ironically, some of the U.S. shifts bear a closer resemblance to Kissinger's détente strategy, in which American concessions to the Soviet Union were offered in advance as enticements for good behavior, rather than as rewards after the fact. 52 Furthermore, Soviet initiatives taken in 1986 and 1987 significantly transformed the bargaining process and made a much more far-reaching agreement possible.