Strategic defense and arms control: Are they compatible?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter suggests that US initiatives to develop and deploy active strategic defenses, including ballistic missile defense, are not necessarily inconsistent with US-Soviet nuclear arms control. Most discussion of the vulnerability of US and Soviet societies or forces to nuclear attack have focused on the equivalence, or lack thereof, of megatonnage, reentry vehicles, throw weight, and other gross indicators of the military balance. From a strategic standpoint, the pursuit of defense dominance as anything more than a temporary respite from a permanent competition is illusory. Historical case studies, including US-Soviet strategic arms deployment, show that offenses are sometimes temporarily dominant, defenses another. Comparable Soviet systems would complicate US estimates about the penetrativity of US warheads toward their assigned targets. In a US-Soviet nuclear exchange, unrestricted countercity exchanges could destroy not only both societies, but also affect significantly the international climate and ecology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Technology, Strategy, and Politics of SDI
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781000234343
ISBN (Print)9780367296476
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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