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The Selling of SALT: Gazing Too Long into the Abyss
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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No more inappropriate advice can be offered to 20th-century strategic analysts appraising the SALT II treaty than Robert Schumanns 19th-century advice to music critics attempting to appraise a Beethoven concerto The best discourse upon music is silence. Music is a medium so direct and universal in its impact that no discourse or interpretive statements are required. The language of SALT, however, is far from universal. Careful reading of the treaty is of little help in unraveling the complexities of perhaps the most technical international agreement ever entered into by our government. Public discussion of the treaty is consequently an essential element in the process of clarifying critical strategic issues from this process will emerge, one hopes, a clear national consensus regarding the merits of our nations most recent strategic accord. Few externally imposed constraints on our strategic arsenal will be more important for the maintenance of perceived and actual strategic equivalence than the SALT II treaty. Discourse upon the treaty thus assumes particular importance as the US faces the reality of a ratified document, politically charged renegotiations, or both in the years ahead. This essay is intended to contribute to that discourse. The sections following will analyze the two principal criticisms of SALT II and assess the direction the two nations might take in SALT III in light of the incomplete resolution of some of the thorniest issues addressed during SALT II negotiations.
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