Page 41 - FSJ June 2012

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J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
41
ater this year —Dec. 8, to be precise —
we will mark the 25th anniversary of the
signing of the “Treaty between the
United States and Soviet Union on the
Elimination of their Intermediate-Range
and Shorter-Range Missiles” (to give the
full title). The INF Treaty, as it is gener-
ally known, committed the United States and the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics to eliminating all nuclear-armed
ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges be-
tween 500 and 5,500 kilometers (about 300 to 3,400 miles)
and their infrastructure.
Pursuant to that agreement, between 1987 and 1991 the
United States destroyed 846 missile systems, including the
Pershing II, while the Soviet Union got rid of 1,846 compa-
rable missile systems, including the SS-20 missiles. This re-
moved a very specific threat for members of the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization, who felt under the gun, so to
speak, because of Moscow’s SS-20 deployments. The scope
of the treaty also alleviated the concern of our Asian allies
that the Soviets could build or move SS-20s to threaten
them, as might have happened had the provision been lim-
ited to Europe.
Even so, the provision’s main significance was political,
not military. Neither Washington nor Moscow needed these
systems, for defense or offense.
Black and Green Spots
Moscow’s SS-20 deployments, which began in 1977, badly
spooked NATOmembers. Many Europeans did not believe
that the U.S. strategic systems then in place were sufficient
counterweights to the SS-20. In their view, only INF missile
deployments would give Washington enough “skin in the
game” to avoid responding to Soviet aggression with short-
range nuclear systems.
Whatever the military outcome of such a clash, the result
would make Western Europe a “black spot between two
green spots” — to use jargon colorfully but inaccurately at-
tributed to NATO. Should war come, the Europeans pre-
ferred to be “a green spot between two black spots,”
following a U.S. strategic response to Soviet attack. Toward
that end, only modern U.S. INF systems based in Europe
would guarantee an American response against Soviet home-
land targets — thereby deterring Moscow from thinking a
Europe-only war was possible.
After a certain amount of talking past one another re-
garding how to counter the SS-20, NATO leaders started dis-
cussions of U.S. deployments in the late 1970s. There was a
great deal of debate over whether to deploy ground-
launched cruise missiles, ballistic missiles or both, and
where.
While Moscow stoked the European peace lobby to agi-
tate against any INF deployments, West Germany de-
manded that it not be the only NATO member in Western
Europe with such missiles in its backyard (those based in the
United Kingdom didn’t count, in their view). They extolled
the value of leverage and “risk sharing,” with the NATO al-
liance in the balance. To our substantial surprise and relief,
R
EMEMBERING THE
INF T
REATY
E
LIMINATING INTERMEDIATE
-
RANGE NUCLEAR MISSILES PAVED THE WAY FOR OTHER ARMS
CONTROL AGREEMENTS EMBRACING BOTH STRATEGIC AND CONVENTIONAL WEAPONRY
.
B
Y
D
AVID
T. J
ONES
David T. Jones, a retired Senior FSO, is a frequent contribu-
tor to the
Journal
. He is the co-author of
Uneasy Neighbo(u)rs:
Canada, the USA and the Dynamics of State, Industry and
Culture
(Wiley, 2007), a study of U.S.-Canadian relations.
L