The politics of arms control and the strategic balance

by Alan Platt


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If strategic arms control is to play an important role in American defense security policy in the future, it is crucial for policymakers and the attentive public to understand the precise reasons why the SALT II Treaty acquired such a poor reputation during the years of the Carter Administration and ultimately was not ratified by the Senate. This paper contributes to such understanding, first by examining recent popular American attitudes toward strategic arms control, and then by analyzing selected aspects of the Carter Administration's management of the politics of SALT during 1977-79. The discussion of the Carter Administration, while largely critical, is intended to provide useful lessons for future efforts at strategic arms control. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the policy implications of these lessons.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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