Arguably the most remarkable exhibitions of US military and foreign policy is the containment of Soviet supremacy in the Post-War era. Upon the conclusion of the Second World War, both superpowers emerged due to the amount of influence each country had over certain areas of Europe creating a bipolar world.
Thus, surfaced the Cold War, the struggle for ideological, economic and military supremacy and global influence between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, constantly battling for the expansion of their hegemony.During the military aspect of this struggle emerged the arms race, or the battle of firepower, with both superpowers ‘racing’ to produce greater numbers of nuclear weaponry and the overall expansion of their own military arsenal than the opposing force. The two superpowers led two individual conflicting blocs.
During the post-war era, Eastern Europe could be elucidated as two distinct definitions. Eastern Europe could be referred to as any part of the European continent lying on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, including European countries which had been integrated into the USSR and those which had not.However, Eastern Europe is usually found to be a synonym of the satellite states of the Soviet Union. The Western bloc, led by the United States of America, consisted of the original allies of WWII and basically, all other nation opposite the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain. This extensive race for nuclear and military dominion eventually led to economic crises and furthermore, a main reason of the USSR’s collapse.
The development of weapons of mass destruction created a balance of terror between the separate blocs, preventing each from attacking the other.The horrifying reality of the situation demonstrated that neither side could win should a nuclear confrontation take place, as both blocs had the capabilities to not only destroy the other, but perhaps the entire world; a term commonly used known as Mutual Assured Destruction. With the predominant fear of atomic holocaust and nuclear winter in the air, both the Soviet Union-led Eastern bloc and the American-led Western bloc realized that attempts at arms control were absolute necessities at this heated moment of the Cold War.If we are concerned to avert nuclear war, our primary concern should be to lessen tensions and conflicts at the points where war engaging the superpowers is likely to erupt.
(Naom Chomsky, “Interventionism and Nuclear War”) During the years from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, numerous endeavors of arms reduction, limitation and general control of nuclear weaponry took place between the two superpowers. In 1968, the United Nations sponsored the first treaty dedicated to nuclear arms control.The Non-Proliferation Treaty was a multi-lateral development, including not just the US, the UK and the USSR, the current members of the ‘nuclear club’, but forty other non-nuclear nations. The NP Treaty was directed to discontinue the widening of horizontal dissemination of nuclear arms between nuclear and non-nuclear nations. The Treaty stated that no nuclear country would assist in the development of nuclear weaponry of a non-nuclear state.Upon this declaration, the Treaty also stated that non-nuclear countries were disallowed from the total manufacturing of nuclear technology and the acquirement of such technology through external forces.
The International Atomic Energy Agency was established in correspondence to Article III of the NP Treaty, which was a United Nations organization, which was responsible for placing safeguards and controls applied to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Upon signing the NP Treaty, all nuclear powers were required to halt and reverse the arms race and practice nuclear disarmament.As the Non-Proliferation Treaty was directed solely to the prevention of horizontal nuclear diffusion, other measures were needed.
In 1972, the United States of America and the Soviet Union signed the bilateral Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty (SALT I). SALT I, consisted of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Interim Agreement on Certain Measures. The main aims of the treaty were not reduction of arms, but limitation. The ABM Treaty enforced the limiting of ABM systems, inspired by the ‘deterrence factor’.
Both the US and the USSR realized that by limiting defensive structure, neither side would want to strike first, as retaliation would be deadly for both due to the limited defenses. In association to this, the numbers of ICBM launchers had been reduced, meaning that only a certain number of ICBMs could be produced. As a means to control whether or not the agreements and provisions were being followed, both parties agreed on legal verification measures, allowing each to chaperone the other through the use of satellite images.Several years later, in 1979, realizing issues which had not been addressed in the previous SALT I treaty, the two powers comprised the SALT II treaty, aimed at replacing the earlier Interim Agreement of SALT I with a longer term comprehensive treaty. Through the use of verification procedures, the SALT II was directed to the limitation of ICBMs and MIRVs, or Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles. The SALT II was assembled by US President Jimmy Carter and the Soviet Union’s Leonid Brezhnev, and was undergone even though the US Congress had not ratified the act, mainly due to Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.However, both the US and the USSR decided to follow the treaty as though the Congress had ratified it. Finally, in 1982, US President Reagan and the Reagan administration proposed conferences upon the reduction of nuclear arms, a topic not yet issued between the superpowers.
Questioning the preceding SALT II treaty of its effectiveness and its failure of concluding the nuclear crises, the US and the USSR held the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, insisting on the overall reduction of nuclear weapons that had already been deployed. These agreements and talks were extremely important sub-phases of the 1970s Di?? tente period.Evidently, both powers understood and recognized the imposing threat the other was upon them. At this point, the Cold War had not only ‘thawed’, but was beginning to heat up. The fear of nuclear attack loomed around the corner of every miniscule conflict between the US and the USSR. There are obvious reasons, therefore, why certain measures such as the previously mentioned treaties had to be undertaken.
The main reasons for the Non-Proliferation treaty in 1968 are quite evident through its aims. The United Nations General Assembly had addressed and expressed concern over the growth of nuclear energy and technology.The escalation in both quantity and quality of the weapons was definitely an issue that had to be solved, thereby producing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, prohibiting the spread of nuclear advancement. The SALT I treaty of 1972 between the US and the USSR was directed to the elimination of a possible nuclear attack from either of the sides. Since the ABM treaty reduced the defensive systems of each country, it would therefore prevent the other from attacking, as it too, would take on massive destruction since the enemy could retaliate.Both powers identified and recognized the extremities of each other’s military capabilities and, in consideration of their own security, undertook these measures, also including the SALT II and the STAR Talks. SALT II was different, as it limited the number of ICBMs and MIRVs that each country could possess. Since these two treaties had only mentioned limitations of nuclear weapons, the Reagan administration in response proposed the STAR Talks which was directly aimed at reduction of already deployed missiles.
The numerous treaties and talks were military reasons for the need of arms control during the Cold War.However, one must also consider the economic reasoning, as the development and production of such powerful and advanced weaponry created substantial depletion of each country’s exchequer. With holes in their wallets, both the Soviet Union and the United States of America realized that should the Nuclear Arms race continue in this accelerating fashion, neither country would be able to avoid serious financial crisis or bankruptcy. The effectiveness of the reasoning and the methods used for arms control, however, can be questioned whether it had proven successful at controlling the arms race during the 1960s-1980s.The comprehensiveness of the processes and techniques used to control the hastening arms race during the Cold War can be questioned in both a short and long term prospective. The Non-Proliferation Treaty administered by the United Nations had, indeed halted the spread of nuclear technology within the countries that had signed. However, the countries which had not, such as France the People’s Republic of China, India and Pakistan, do posses such technology today.
Though the NPT had temporarily softened the present situation, it failed in abolishing the general threat of nuclear proliferation.When one considers the SALT I and II treaties, it is evident that the short term results show definite limitations of nuclear weaponry but both failed to address certain important issues. The SALT I treaty not only failed to mention MIRVs, but it did not address the Soviet Phased Array radar system.
These failures resulted in an overall dissatisfaction with the levels of compliance from either side in the 1977 review. As Jerry Grey states: The situation in 1972, both technically and politically, made such a treaty readily acceptable to both parties.Although different, the environment was still conductive to the Treaty’s terms when it was reviewed, as required, in 1977 and in 1982. But should conditions warrant so, there is no reason why those terms could not be negotiated, without violating the basic nature of the Treaty, when it is next reviewed in 1987.
Meanwhile, the Treaty does not bar research or substantial testing of the components for space-based or other defense systems, only full-system testing and deployment. In the passage above, Grey identifies and reveals the weaknesses of the 1972 SALT I Treaty.The failure of the Treaty not only gave reason for the SALT II Treaty in 1979, but also the STAR Talks of 1991. The failures of the SALT I and II Treaties led to the moderate success of the STAR Talks.
Proposed by Reagan, the STAR Talks resulted in a 30% reduction in strategic arsenals. The long-term success of the STAR Talks on the American spectrum could be argued as the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Reagan realized that at this point of the arms race the Soviet Union’s economy was in dire straits. Continuation of the arms race would ensure the total economic collapse of the East bloc.
Reagan therefore offered the Strategic Defense Initiative. The sudden technological boost provided further advancements in technology, such as exploration of high-energy beam-weapon systems, which would use large orbiting segmented-optic mirrors to direct laser beams at incoming missiles or perhaps even ground targets. The integration of the arms race into the space race was a definite way to deplete the Soviet exchequer. Therefore, by delaying the STAR Talks in response to the SALT Treaties to later years, Reagan knew that by that time, the strain on the Soviet economy would be too great.
Sure enough, the space and arms race were one of the major factors of the breakdown of the USSR. However, the breakdown of the Soviet Union addresses the questionable success of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. Though completely unintentional, the breakdown of the East bloc left newly formed countries finding themselves with Soviet deployed nuclear weapons.
The Soviet Union had deployed nuclear weapons on sites in the countries of Belarus, the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The immediate collapse left these newly independent countries possessing Soviet weaponry.Though this is not direct failure of the NPT, it can be argued as a long-term result. The outcomes of arms control differs upon conflicting views and perspectives: In the near term, arms control is the only intermediate means at hand between the extremes of unilateral steps toward arms reduction and unfettered arms competition. (Wolfgang k. H.
Panofsky, “Arms Control: Necessary Process”) Panofsky demonstrates his opinion that arms control was an absolute necessity. His positive attitude towards it shows that he obviously finds it to be successful. However, in retrospect, William A.
Schwartz and Charles Derber found that controls on weapons required careful and decisive planning and that we have to accept that it did not necessarily benefit East-West relations. The disarmament movement cannot accomplish such things. This is a job for a full-fledged peace movement. (William A.
Schwartz and Charles Derber, “Arms Control: Misplaced Focus”) Evidently, these two men find that the efforts on arms control were fruitless in enhancing the possibility of peace between the two blocs. We can see that the successes and failures of arms control are both questionable and arguable.With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the dominant, US-led uni-polar world, we can find that the general view on arms control efforts was that it resulted in neither success nor failure, as though it prevented nuclear holocaust and chaos, and more or less achieved every aim in each individual treaty or agreement, modern day issues have derived from its subsequent and arguable failures, such as the threat of nuclear weapons and the conflicts within in the Indian Sub-Continent, the Middle East, and North Korea. Nuclear technology remains a problematic and predominant threat the post-Cold War world order. The future is yet to be revealed.