The Consensus Undermined

  • Lawrence Freedman
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


The strategic debates of the 1970s in the United States could not be restricted to a qualified few, versed in the mysteries of the atom and informed through the most secret sources. The debate was noisy, even cacophonous, and frequently linked to wider issues, such as Presidential elections and the struggle to establish the demarcation line between executive and legislative spheres of competence, and embracing all parts of the political system.


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  1. 1.
    An important source on the programmes of both sides is John M. Collins, American and Soviet Military Trends since the Cuban Missile Crisis (Washington, DC: The Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, 1978).Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    There were exceptions. Norman Moss recounts the story of a SAC General being given a briefing on counter–force strategies in the 1950s. The briefing drew on Game Theory and had matrices indicating the alternative payoffs. The General needed to look at only one square to know he was against the strategy, the square that showed the number of Soviet casualties. He commented: ‘Counter–force means less Russians dead. So I’m against it’. Norman Moss, Men Who Play God: The Story of the Hydrogen Bomb (London: Penguin, 1970), p. 260.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    Donald Brennan, ‘The case for population defense’, in Johan Hoist and William Schneider (eds.), Why ABM? (New York: Pergamon Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Ibid., p. 109. Brennan himself was a recent convert to this view.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    On this see Yehezkel Dror, Crazy States: A Counter-conventional Strategic Problem (Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1971).Google Scholar
  6. 14.
    Iklé, op. cit., p. 15. It is not clear whether Iklé believed this could be done wholly with ‘smart’ conventional weapons. A similar approach can be found in Arthur Lee Burns, Ethics and Deterrence: A Nuclear Balance Without Hostage Cities? (London: IISS, 1970). See Chapter 5.Google Scholar
  7. 15.
    Herbert York, ‘Reducing the overkill’. Survival, XVI:2 (March/April 1974).Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Wolfgang Panofsky, ‘The Mutual-Hostage Relationship Between America and Russia’, Foreign Affairs, LII:l (October 1973).Google Scholar
  9. 19.
    See D. G. Hoag, ‘Ballistic-missile guidance’, in B. T. Feld et al. (eds.), Impact of New Technologies on the Arms Race (Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1971): Hoag estimated that ‘an overall ICBM CEP of 30 meters may be expected with reasonable and practical application of science and technology to the task’, and that ‘there was no theoretical justification to feel that individual MIRV warheads will not have a CEP essentially the same as that of a single–warhead missile using the same technology’ (pp. 81, 90). In a paper written in 1967 on ‘Strength, interest and new Technologies’, Albert Wohlstetter singled out as particularly significant ‘the multiplication of armed offensive re–entry vehicles carried in a single launch vehicle (MIRVs) and the great improvements in offence accuracy and reliability’. In IISS The Implications of Military Technology in the 1970s (London: IISS, 1968).Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    Bernard Brodie, ‘On the objectives of arms control’. International Security, I:l (Summer 1976), pp. 17–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 24.
    To make way for the extra SLBMs, the Soviet Union had to dismantle 209 old ICBMs. On SALT I see John Newhouse, Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT (New York, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973);Google Scholar
  12. 24.
    Mason Willrich and John B. Rhinelander, SALT: The Moscow Agreements and Beyond (New York: The Free Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    On the developing problems of SALT, see Christoph Bertram (ed.), Beyond SALT II (London: IISS, 1978).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Freedman

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