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Competitive Strategies and Soviet Vulnerabilities

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Journal article

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Scarcity is the midwife of good strategy. Scarcity also explains the new emphasis on competitive strategy in Secretary of Defense Weinbergers recent Annual Reports to the Congress FY 1987-88. Recognizing the economic impracticality of returning to the dominant position enjoyed by the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s, Weinbergers competitive strategies initiative seeks to align enduring US strengths against enduring Soviet weaknesses. It is a call to use strategy more effectively, offsetting deficit-driven budget constraints through the efficient use of resources. The concept promises to be just as relevant under Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, who will operate in an even more resource constrained environment than Weinberger. Strategy, by definition, is competitive. Revisiting fundamentals can, nevertheless, open useful avenues to new strategic thinking provided that our approach goes beyond short-term issues such as the military balance, technology, and order of battle. Only when we know our enemy completely-historically, geographically, culturally, economically, psychologically, politically-can we attend his weaknesses effectively. This article identifies a significant Soviet vulnerability through an examination of Soviet geopolitics. Assessing the geopolitical order reveals enduring Soviet political liabilities that strengthen the credibility of US nuclear deterrence-even in a world where the Soviets may enjoy numerical superiority. The strategic debate has been dominated by the visible indicators of military power-delivery vehicles, warheads, throw-weight, and accuracy, for example. These quantifiable threats have been cast in scenarios illustrating US vulnerability and Soviet first-strike capabilities. Both the arms competition and the limited attempts to contain it through arms control negotiations have been dominated by technical issues and their relationship to strategy.

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  • Government and Political Science

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