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Conventional Deterrence After Arms Control

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Journal article

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The credibility of NATOs conventional forces will be determined by its weapon modernization programs in combination with the outcome of the Conventional Forces in Europe Negotiations CFE which began in March 1989. Despite Gorbachevs unilateral reductions which preceded the formal negotiations and despite the general conciliatory tone of Soviet diplomacy, difficult negotiations lay ahead in Vienna for the 23 members of NATO and the Warsaw Pact assembled to test the Soviet commitment to new military thinking. As Americans undertake conventional arms control negotiations with their NATO allies, two centers of gravity, one political and one military, will be critical. The political center of gravity is the cohesion of the NATO alliance. This has been a primary target of Soviet diplomacy. Arms control and conventional modernization decisions must be made within the broader objective of maintaining alliance cohesion. Without a united Western front, there is no possibility for credible conventional deterrence in Europe. NATOs political center of gravity is the foundation on which the alliance has fielded military power sufficient to threaten the Soviet military center of gravity in Europe, that is, the ability of the Soviet army to maintain offensive momentum on the battlefield. War or political intimidation as a means to attain Soviet political objectives requires the potential for surprise attack and rapid military victory. Protracted conflict or stalemate on the battlefield poses serious threats to the cohesion of the Warsaw Pact. Unreliable allies may begin to question the cost-benefits of war, just as the Romanians did during World War II.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Nuclear Weapons

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