On thresholds in Soviet military thought

by Benjamin S. Lambeth

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Since the early 1960s, American strategic theory has dwelled heavily on the question of conflict "thresholds" and their significance in determining the advisability of various U.S. options in crises. This paper reflects on how the Soviets have come to think about "thresholds" in their own strategic planning. It reviews what appear to be the principal conflict "thresholds" in Soviet military thinking, identifies the more notable contrasts between these views and those that have long held sway in the United States, and touches on some of their implications for Western strategic planning.

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