Of arms control, summit meetings, and the politics of make-believe

by Alex Alexiev

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This paper argues that arms control negotiations and summit meetings are a dangerous panacea because they do not achieve the goals commonly claimed for them: (1) alleviate tension and contribute to international peace and security; (2) create a climate of trust and cooperation between the superpowers; and (3) slow down and even reverse the arms race. The author blames a fundamental misperception of the nature of the Soviet system and particularly its definition of security and the role of military power for this unwarranted emphasis on negotiations and summit meetings. He argues that, because of Soviet systemic insecurity, the mere existence of the Western alternative presents a security threat to the Soviet system, and that a stable security relationship with the Soviet Union can and should be achieved, but is only possible based on a strong U.S. defense capability.

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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