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The Soviet Approach to Deterrence

  • Lawrence Freedman

Abstract

The dogged refusal of the Russians to endorse any of McNamara’s prescriptions for intra-war deterrence or a stable arms race, undermined both confidence in McNamara’s prognoses for the future and the quality of his original diagnoses. The potential convergence of Soviet and American destinies was never as great as assumed by McNamara, but nor was the actual divergence as fundamental or as damaging as his detractors suggested. In his prime, McNamara’s faith in conclusions reached by a process of rigorous analysis, pushing to one side the deadweight of tradition, was contagious. It was not difficult to presume that he and his staff represented the furthest point on some strategic learning curve, to which internal opponents, allies and potential enemies were to be brought by a process of patient education in the realities of the age.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Military Strategy Military Strength Soviet Force Nuclear Strategy 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Roman Kolkowicz et al., The Soviet Union and Arms Control: A Superpower Dilemma (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970), pp. 34–7.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Interview with Robert McNamara, 15 February 1966, in Documents on Disarmament 1967 (Washington, DC: US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1967).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Benjamin S. Lambeth, Selective Nuclear Options in American and Soviet Strategic Policy (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 1976), p. 14.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Nikita Khruschev, Khruschev Remembers, vol. 2, The Last Testament (London: André Deutsch, 1974), pp. 48–50.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Edward L. Warner, The Military in Contemporary Soviet Politics (New York: Praeger, 1977), pp. 99–100.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Thomas Wolfe, Soviet Power and Europe 1945–70 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970), p. 134.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Freedman

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