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Statecraft Pays Of
Te Reagan-Gorbachev Arms
Control Breakthrough: Te Treaty
Eliminating Intermediate-Range
Nuclear Force (INF) Missiles
David T. Jones, editor, Vellum, 2012, $28,
paperback, 412 pages.
Reviewed by Douglas Kinney
Te six contributors to
Te Reagan-Gor-
bachev Arms Control Breakthrough,
all worked on the INF Treaty, have col-
lectively given us an insightful overview
of how a seminal moment in the annals
of arms control came to fruition with the
1987 treaty, which for the frst time elimi-
nated an entire class of nuclear delivery
As explained in this collection, skill-
fully compiled and edited by retired
Senior Foreign Service ofcer David T.
Jones, the story of the INF Treaty really
begins during the 1970s, when Moscow
unilaterally deployed SS-20 missiles in
Warsaw Pact countries. Te move was
intended to cow Western Europe into
efective neutrality.
To counter that deployment, NATO
introduced INF missiles of its own. It
then immediately sought agreement to
phase out
ground-launched missiles
with ranges of between 500 and 5,500
kilometers (roughly 300-3,300 miles).
Te positioning of these countervailing
systems no doubt raised the strategic
temperature in Europe, but the ofer of
a way out was adroitly presented and
produced asymmetrical reductions,
with more than 1,800 Soviet missiles
and about 800 U.S. systems ultimately
How did the West orchestrate this
diplomatic success? Tese essayists
cite many diferent overlapping factors,
which might be summed up as persis-
tence, principled positions,
power, political adroit-
ness (including constant
consultation with NATO
allies and Congress),
political courage and
pluck. Moreover, the West
was matched by a more
enlightened Kremlin
under Mikhail Gorbachev,
one that faced a six-
minute Pershing II fight time to Moscow
and mounting socioeconomic pressures
to retrench.
Te strategy worked precisely
because it was a narrow pursuit of
limited means toward limited ends in
a largely bipolar world. It was, to cite a
very American concept, “doable.”
Impressive as it was in its own right,
however, the true signifcance of the INF
Treaty is that it paved the way for the
continued “builddown” of thermonu-
clear stockpiles. Over the past quarter-
century, the United States has moved
from about 30,000 deployed nuclear
warheads to roughly 5,000. Mutual
drawdowns have enhanced stability
at the superpower level and bolstered
arguments for less proliferation by other
nuclear powers, both declared and
lays out a splendid
example of a purposeful, muscular
national security policy that pairs arms
deployment with a willingness to negoti-
ate reductions. As such, it is a bracing
reminder that statecraft pays. Intention-
ality pays. And forging coalitions that
reinforce norms and agree-
ments (even implicit ones)
about restraint and rules of
the game still conveys lever-
Strength helps, as do prin-
ciple and nuance. As Goethe
observed, boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.
Te difculty of hammering
out interagency policy posi-
tions is not always a bad thing. Force of
arms underpinning long-term thinking,
persistence and principled positions
generates maximum synergy and lever-
age from our military, intelligence and
diplomatic assets.
In short, diplomacy works. So, too,
does pushing back against deliberate
disinformation. At one point, the U.S.
delegation ofered its Soviet counterparts
a briefng on where precisely their Trans-
porter Erector Launchers were deployed.
Moscow declined, but the message got
through. As that episode suggests, the
American team shared a mix of ironic
purposefulness and humor—a genuine
survival skill that kept everyone sane
during the interminable negotiations
in Geneva. Tat humor is interlaced
through the book, keeping the INF tale
from ever getting dry.
Tose who worked on diferent stages
of the INF process recently gathered for
conferences and a dinner celebrating
the 25th anniversary of the treaty. It was
a sobering reminder of how much was
at stake, as well as a humbling display
of the stunning array of talent across the
many elements of the national security
community devoted to managing this
massive, existential threat.
Today, it is no doubt difcult for most
of us to
(not simply know intel-
lectually) just how frigid the Cold War
was, and to recall how many people in
Jones’ account reminds
us that the difculty of
hammering out interagency
policy positions is not
always a bad thing.