The Soviet Strategic Culture : Implications for Limited Nuclear Operations.

by Jack L. Snyder

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This report identifies several historical, institutional, and political factors that have given rise to a uniquely Soviet approach to strategic thought. American doctrines of limited nuclear war and intrawar deterrence are examined in light of this Soviet doctrinal tradition. It is argued that such doctrines conflict with deeply-rooted Soviet beliefs; hence, Soviet decisionmakers may not abide by American notions of mutual restraint in the choice of targets and weapons. Three caveats are stressed: (1) Evidence on Soviet strategic doctrine is ambiguous. (2) Even deeply-rooted doctrinal beliefs may change, albeit slowly, in response to technical or other environmental changes. (3) Doctrinal preference is not the only important factor that might affect Soviet behavior in a nuclear crisis. Situational temptations and constraints may carry independent weight. 40 pp. Ref.

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