THE SOVIET UNION AND SALT by

THE SOVIET UNION AND SALT

By
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KIRKUS REVIEW

While considerable attention has been paid to the American side of SALT, even as SALT II languishes in a Congressional void, the Soviet view of things has gone unattended, so Payne's sketch, though reliant upon published sources, has the field to itself. Payne (Political Science, Ferrum College, Va.) takes the view that the Soviet elite is divided between arms control and militarist factions, and that the tug of war between them determines the USSR's attitude toward nuclear arms limitations at any given moment, much as in the US. After the Soviet backdown over the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, both sides agreed that the USSR had to build up its strategic nuclear forces in order to be in a position to deal with the US from strength. Once a condition approaching parity was reached, one faction wanted to negotiate, while the other wanted to continue building. Behind these attitudes, Payne shows, lie a number of assumptions, the most important of which relate to perceptions of the US. Both factions see the US as in decline, but while the arms-controllers regard this as an opportunity to force an agreement on weapons, the militarists believe that it increases American belligerency. Payne emphasizes that the militarists are not sanguine about nuclear war, but nevertheless take the view that since a war is possible, the USSR must enhance its potential to ""win"" or at least to survive; the controllers, on the other hand, see ""winning"" as a no-win proposition. Both sides adhere to the ""military-industrial complex"" theory of American leadership, but disagree over its significance; the controllers argue that important sectors of the US elite favor decreased military outlays, while the militarists think that our militarists are still top-dogs. If nothing else, Payne shows that the thinking on both sides of the table runs along similar dual tracks. Limited, but instructive.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: MIT Press