The U.S.-Soviet Strategic Balance in the 1980s

Can We Meet the Challenge?

by Kevin N. Lewis

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A discussion of the overall U.S.-Soviet strategic competition. The author describes the context in which the "balance" is defined. Next, he points out one current problem with the balance — how the use of nuclear weapons can support our national objectives — and suggests that the United States must commit itself to increased funding for its strategic forces. While the United States has been building up its nuclear attack capability, it has let its relative defense capabilities slide. For example, it does not make any difference if the United States has excellent hard target killing potential if its forces could be wiped out by an enemy first strike. Nuclear forces are only a part of the defense posture. Nuclear war probably is more likely to come as a result of escalation from lower "levels" of fighting. To the degree that superior conventional capabilities and enhanced provisions for readiness and mobilization can head off nuclear warfare, we must be very careful as we divide up the defense budget.

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