Within and Beyond Naval Confidence-Building

The Legacy and the Options

by James L. Lacy


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Given the good prospects for an East-West conventional force reduction agreement in Europe in 1990, an old issue is likely to take on greater saliency. The Soviet Union has long insisted on negotiations to constrain the activities of naval forces. The United States has consistently rejected such overtures. Nearly everything the Soviet Union has proposed thus far has been in the realm of naval "confidence-building" — that is, arms control measures that do not directly affect the size, structure, composition, or ultimate military capability of naval forces, but instead concern the what, why, when, and where of naval operations. This Note, part of a series on naval arms control issues and alternatives, examines what naval confidence-building in its multiple forms brings to the strategic and political equation, probes the character and potential implications of Soviet proposals in this area, and explores Soviet and U.S. options for the future. These options include a modest selection of naval confidence-building arrangements, but they also extend beyond confidence-building to broader structural forms of naval arms control.

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