Lethal Frontiers: A Soviet View of Nuclear Strategy, Weapons, and Negotiations

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Lethal Frontiers is one of the first samples of Soviet scholarship on nuclear strategy readily available to Western readers. A rising star in the Soviet foreign policy establishment, Arbatov offers a remarkable view of the evaluation of U.S. nuclear policy and strategy. This scholarly book is free of the ideological constraints and negative effects of excessive Soviet secrecy so often characterizing Soviet works on this subject. The author begins by tracing the buildup of U.S. nuclear and conventional forces during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and examines initial U.S. reactions to the achievement of strategic nuclear parity by the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From notions of flexible response, to the Schlesinger doctrine, and ideas of fighting a limited nuclear war, Arbatov argues that the U.S. national security establishment has had enormous difficulty in reconciling itself with Soviet strategic parity. Consequently, U.S. strategy and arms programs have invariably collided with and contradicted the arms control process and efforts to decrease U.S.-Soviet tensions. In light of this, and of the new Soviet approach to security, Arbatov observes the challenges lying ahead in the new era of Soviet-American relations.