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Jimmy Carter and SALT II:
by Matthew M. Oyos


1. Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), pp. 2-3; William W. Kaufmann, The McNamara Strategy (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1964), pp. 5-6, 11-12; U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Arms Control, Oceans, and International Environment, United States-Soviet Strategic Options, 95th Cong., 1st Sess., 1977, p. 11; U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearings on Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, 93rd Congress, 2nd Sess., 1974, p. 155; U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1979 (1978), p. 45; U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Law and Organization, Briefing on Counterforce Attacks, 93rd Cong., 2nd Sess., 1975, p. 8.

2. James L. Buckley and Paul C. Warnke, Strategic Sufficiency: Fact or Fiction? (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, 1972), pp. 2-3; Committee on Foreign Relations, Nuclear Weapons, pp. 16-17; C.L. Sulzberger, "When Mud Gets in Your Eyes," New York Times, 28 January 1976, p. 33.

3. Robert O. Freedman, "The Soviet Image of the Carter Administration's Policy Toward the USSR from the Inauguration to the Invasion of Afghanistan," Korea and World Affairs 4 (Summer 1980): 230; David Holloway, The Soviet Union and the Arms Race (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983), pp. 89, 92.

4. U.S. Congress, House, Message from the President of the United States Concerning the State of the Union, January 19, 1978, House Doc. 95-273, 95th Cong., 2nd Sess., 1978, p. 2; Strobe Talbott, Endgame, The Inside Story of SALT II (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979). Talbott provides a detailed narrative of the Carter administration's efforts to negotiate a strategic arms control treaty.

5. Jimmy Carter, "Speech before the Council on Foreign Relations," 15 March 1976, as quoted in Robert Turner, ed., "I'll Never Lie to You," Jimmy Carter in His Own Words (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976), pp. 122-23.

6. Jimmy Carter, "Platform on the Pentagon Budget," May 1976, as quoted in Turner, "I'll Never Lie,", pp. 123-24.

7. Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith, Memoirs of a President (New York: Bantam Books, 1982), p. 218; State of the Union, 1978, pp. 2-6, 11.

8. Text of the Second Presidential Debate, 6 October 1976, San Francisco, Calif., as found in Sidney Kraus, ed. The Great Debates, Carter vs. Ford 1976 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), pp. 476-77, 489-90, 496; State of the Union, 1978, pp. 32-33.

9. Department of Defense, Annual Report, F.Y. 1979, p. 46; Fen O. Hampson, "SALT I, Interim Agreement and ABM Treaty," in Albert Carnesale and Richard N. Haass, eds. Superpower Arms Control (Cambridge, Mass., Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987), p. 78.

10. Stephen J. Flanagan, "SALT II," in Carnesale and Haass, Superpower Arms Control, p. 112.

11. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 217-18, 245; Jimmy Carter, "United Nations Speech," 13 May 1976, in Turner, "I'll Never Lie", pp. 130-31; State of the Union, 1978, p. 7.

12. Godfrey Hodgson, All Things to All Men, The False Promise of the American Presidency (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980), pp. 23-24; Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 220-21.

13. Second Presidential Debate, Great Debates, p. 480; Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 115-16.

14. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 246-47, 251-55.

15. Ibid., p. 219; Holloway, Soviet Union, p. 88; Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 115-16.

16. Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 115-16.

17. Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 236.

18. Ibid., pp. 214, 250, 255-56; U.S. Department of State, The United States and the Soviet Union, Remarks by President Carter at the 1978 U.S. Naval Academy Commencement on June 7 [1978], General Foreign Policy Series 307, 1978, p. 7; Les Aspin, "The Soviet Military Threat: Rhetoric Versus Facts," in Fred W. Neal, ed., Detente or Debacle, Common Sense in U.S.-Soviet Relations (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1979), p. 97; Richard Pipes, "Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight and Win a Nuclear War," Commentary 64 (July 1977): 22, 29-31.

19. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 214, 250, 255-56; Aspin, "Soviet Military Threat," pp. 97; Paul Nitze, "Assuring Strategic Stability in an Era of Detente," Foreign Affairs 54 (January 1976): 217-18; Committee on Foreign Relations, Nuclear Weapons, pp. 6-7; Hampson, "SALT I," p. 94.

20. Sidney D. Drell, "SALT and Beyond--Possibilities and Prospects," in Neal, Detente or Debacle, p. 79.

21. Nitze, "Strategic Stability," pp. 217-18.

22. Jan M. Lodal, "Assuring Strategic Stability: An Alternative View," Foreign Affairs 54 (April 1976): 473; Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 115, 122-23; Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 216, 231-32, 238; Talbott, Endgame, pp. 156-61; Aspin, "Soviet Threat, pp. 101-03. Other technological questions such as qualitative improvements to missile forces and verification of treaty compliance prolonged the negotiations. Strict limitations on MIRV technology and the upgrading of missile accuracy would have strengthened strategic stability but were not included in the treaty; however, the agreement did contain restrictions on maximum numbers of warheads and the size of the heavy Soviet ICBM force. The treaty allowed both sides limited modification of existing missile systems, one completely new ICBM, a large number of delivery vehicles, and eventual deployment of mobile land-based systems. The United States also demanded assurances that it would be able to monitor Soviet compliance with SALT II, especially after the Iranian Revolution denied American intelligence two key listening posts on the Soviet border. Specifically, the Americans wanted promises that the Soviets would not encrypt telemetry data from missile tests, which would indicate whether Moscow was developing new systems outside the treaty. The superpowers finally reached an understanding on this point, but the verification issue remained controversial in the American domestic debate over treaty ratification.

23. Craig R. Whitney, "Soviets Ask Chinese to Talks in Moscow," New York Times, 6 June 1979, p. A-11; Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 237, 258-59; Hodgson, All Things, pp. 27-28.

24. Theodore Draper, "Appeasement and Detente," Commentary 61 (February 1976): 28; Kiron K. Skinner, "Linkage," in Carnesale and Haass, Superpower Arms Control, pp. 277-78.

25. Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 252; Department of State, United States and Soviet Union, Series 307, p. 5; John A. Marcum, "Lessons of Angola," Foreign Affairs 54 (April 1976): 407-25; Bayard Rustin and Carl Gershman, "Africa, Soviet Imperialism, and the Retreat of American Power," Commentary 64 (October 1977): 33-34, 38-39; C.L. Sulzberger, "Whom the Gods Would Destroy," New York Times, 7 January 1976, pt. 1, p. 37; Georges Steyermark, "A Question About Survival of Our Country," New York Times, 16 February 1978, p. 22; Skinner, "Linkage," pp. 287-88, 293; Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 130-31.

26. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 222, 254-55; Hodgson, All Things, pp. 28-29; Skinner, "Linkage," p. 285.

27. Holloway, The Soviet Union, p. 89; Carter, Keeping Faith, p. 256; Rustin and Gershman, "Africa," p. 39; "Soviet is Reported Building a Second Base in Somalia," New York Times, 2 February 1976, pt. 1, p. 11; Skinner, "Linkage," pp. 284, 297.

28. McGeorge Bundy, "To Cap the Volcano," Foreign Affairs 48 (October 1969): pp. 6-7; Flanagan, "SALT II," p. 115; Skinner, "Linkage," p. 293.

29. Morton Halperin, "Why Bureaucrats Play Games," Foreign Policy 2 (1971): 71-75; Donald L. Hafner, "Bureaucratic Politics and 'Those Frigging Missiles': JFK , Cuba, and U.S. Missiles in Turkey," Orbis 21 (1977): 315-16, 327.

30. Leslie H. Gelb and Morton Halperin, "Diplomatic Notes: The Ten Commandments of the Foreign-Affairs Bureaucracy," Harper's Magazine 244 (June 1972): 30; I. M. Destler, Presidents, Bureaucrats, and Foreign Policy, The Politics of Organizational Reform (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972), p. 53; Charles Mohr, "Joint Chiefs Support Arms Treaty But Urge Higher Nuclear Spending," New York Times 12 July 1979, p. A-1.

31. Hodgson, All Things, pp. 13-14, 30, 35-36; Sulzberger, "Whom the Gods Would Destroy," p. 37.

32. Destler, Presidents, p. 54; Walter Laqueur, "The West in Retreat," Commentary 60 (August 1975): 5.

33. Theodore C. Sorenson, "Political Perspective: Who Speaks for the National Interest?" in Thomas M. Franck, ed., The Tethered Presidency, Congressional Restraints on Executive Power (New York: New York University Press, 1981), pp. 3-7, 12; Bruce Russett, "The Americans' Retreat From World Power," Political Science Quarterly 90 (Spring 1975): 1-10, 14-17.

34. Sorenson, "Political Perspectives," pp. 7-8, 10.

35. The critics of SALT II left behind an enormous record of their views. Their testimony before Congress is especially insightful and can be found in: U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on the Armed Services, Military Implications of the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms and Protocol Thereto, 96th Cong., 1st Sess., 1979, and U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Foreign Relations, The SALT II Treaty, 96th Cong., 1st Sess., 1979. The material published by SALT II opponents is also extensive. Some examples include: John F. Lehman and Seymour Weiss, Beyond the SALT II Failure (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1981); Eugene V. Rostow, "The Case Against SALT II," Commentary 67 (Feb. 1979); and Amrom Katz, "The Fabric of Verification: The Warp and the Woof," in William C. Potter, ed., Verification and SALT: The Challenge of Strategic Deception (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1980).

36. Committee on Foreign Relations, Strategic Options, p. 124.

37. Ibid., pp. 61, 124; Nitze, "Strategic Stability," pp. 207, 215-16; Pipes, "Soviet Union," p. 26; Barry M. Blechman and others, The Soviet Military Buildup and U.S. Defense Spending (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1977), p. vii; Paul C. Roberts, Letter to the Editor, Commentary 64 (September 1977): 4.

38. Carter, Keeping Faith, pp. 224-25, 238-39.

39. Hodgson, All Things, pp. 22-26, 28-29.

40. Flanagan, "SALT II," pp. 131-34.

41. State of the Union, 1981, pp. 2, 48, 50-53; Carter, Keeping Faith, 222-23, 230; Committee on Foreign Relations, Counterforce, p. 9; Department of Defense, Annual Report, F.Y. 1979, pp. 4-6, 55-57, 105, 109, 111, 115-16, 126-27; U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1981, (1980), pp. 65-68; U.S. Department of Defense, Annual Report, Fiscal Year 1982, (1981), pp. 38-43; U.S. Congress, House, Message from the President Transmitting His Views on Defense Spending, September 1979, House Doc, 96-184, (1979), pp. 1-2; Richard Burt, "U.S. Decides Not to Match Soviet First-Strike Efforts," New York Times, 5 February 1978, p. 5; Bernard Weintraub, "Pentagon is Seeking $56 Billion Increase Over Next Five Years," New York Times, 3 February 1978, pt. 1, p. 1.

Article Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Structure of Strategic Deterence
  3. Jimmy Carter's Strategic Arms Objectives
  4. Strategic Arms Control Negotiations
  5. Domestic Political Considerations in the United States
  6. Conclusion
  7. Endnotes

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