June 10, 2019 | Arms Control Wonk
Quote of the week:
“What in the name of God is strategic superiority? What is the significance of it politically, militarily, operationally, at these levels of numbers? What do you do with it?”
— Henry Kissinger (1974)
Henry Kissinger voiced these exasperated and memorable lines in Moscow, where he was defending a framework agreement subsequently known as the Vladivostok Accord. His ambition was to fill out the partial and deeply imperfect constraints on strategic offensive forces laid out in the SALT I Interim Agreement.
Kissinger was in complete control of the policy-making side of nuclear arms control, holding down both the Secretary of State and National Security Adviser jobs. As control freaks go, it doesn’t get much better than that. Having purged ACDA and replaced key negotiators to deflect blame for the Interim Agreement, he was without protective cover. He was now in the direct line of fire from the backlash of the SALT I accords.
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Michael Krepon is Co-Founder of the Stimson Center.