Soviet Strategic Conduct and the Prospects for Stability

by Benjamin S. Lambeth

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Throughout the past decade, the Soviets have refused to entertain SALT proposals that would require the Soviet Union to become an active partner in increasing its own vulnerabilities. They have also revealed a penchant for immoderate levels of arms acquisition, which raises disturbing questions about their willingness to settle for a strategic posture "essentially equivalent" to that of the United States. These features of Soviet strategic style constitute major obstacles in the path of achieving a cooperative solution to the security dilemma traditionally espoused by Western theories of mutual assured destruction. If the United States is to endure as a respectable player in the strategic arms competition, it will have to begin imposing measures conducive to stability through a strategy that appeals primarily to Soviet sensitivities, rather than to the doubtful prospect of eventual Soviet convergence with the preferred concepts of the West.

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