Find a Security Clearance Job!


Title International Relations Theory And The Process of Ending The Cold War

International Relations Theory And The Process of Ending The Cold War


CSC 1995


SUBJECT AREA Foreign Policy




Title: International Relations Theory and the Process of Ending the Cold War

Author: Wally Z. Walters, Major, U.S. Army


Research Question: How can international relations theory account for U.S. decision making and international bargaining behaviors during the ending of the Cold War?




The surprisingly peaceful and rapid closure of the Cold War has shattered confidence in political science. This thesis is part of the effort to examine U.S. decision-making and international bargaining processes for European security from 1985-1990, and to explain them within the framework of international relations theory, drawing lessons which may be useful in the future. The thesis contrasts structural, bureaucratic politics, and

psychological approaches in conventional arms control negotiations. Three principal questions guide the analysis: Which theories best describe U.S. decision-making and international behaviors? How can theories be used to explain the puzzling course of events? What conclusions and prescriptions can be drawn for policy-makers about the usefulness of political science theories of international relations?


The thesis concludes that the processes of U.S. decision-making and international bargaining are complex, but understandable, and can be explained by existing theories. Most of the puzzles presented by events can be explained by giving greater appreciation to the interactive nature of domestic and international politics, and by recognizing that periods of upheaval have special characteristics. Psychological and bureaucratic approaches add explanations to a repaired and traditionally effective structural theory. Insights from the cases demonstrate that U.S. and Soviet leaders failed to take full advantage of lessons theory might offer, even though the Cold War was ended peacefully.

An understanding of how theories may work together allows for crafting more effective policy strategies. A strategy based on synthesis of the approaches offers potential for future leaders seeking to transform a security relationship Abandonment of political science approaches is not justified.




This thesis is complete in itself and in the subjects it addresses. The thesis is also part of a larger effort, and supports a separate elective paper. Each of the two papers is a complete product, but they also mutually reinforce each other. They are separate submissions, in response to different due dates and to different academic advisors.


This paper examines the relationship of international relations theory and conventional arms control in Europe from 1985-1990. Chapter one introduces the overall design and provides an overview of the paper's major concepts. Chapter two researches the development of international relations theory, noting its deficiencies and outlining three major approaches to assessing U.S. decision-making and international bargaining. Chapter three applies the theory in chapter two to European arms control negotiations. Chapter four concludes the paper with an assessment of the utility of the theoretical approaches, and attempts repairs with a synthesis of the three approaches which explains the puzzles of the Gorbachev period and offers usefulness for future research.


The individual research elective paper is also in partial fulfillment of the Command and Staff College general academic program. The elective paper examines Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev's security conceptions for Europe more broadly, based on his articulation of a "common European home." The elective paper builds on this product drawing on its theoretical chapters, further testing their propositions, and evaluating issues left incompletely addressed by this narrower study of arms control negotiations. It is also a product onto itself, following the intellectual development and evolution of security

concepts. It goes beyond consideration of traditional arms control (which seeks stability in a given situation), to consideration of fundamentally altering security relationships (disrupting stability to transform a situation). The elective paper draws more extensively on Soviet sources tracing Gorbachev's conceptions. and an evaluation of their contributions to the end of the Cold War. Its conclusion reinforces the finding of this paper that Gorbachev's actions contributed to the failure of his policies, due to the lack of

a coherent and well executed strategy. The elective paper also briefly extends the concepts into other arenas, probing the applicability of the concept beyond these cases, places, and times.


Chapter: Page:

1. Introduction: The Failure of Political Science? l

Why Focus on Processes and European Security? 2

The Cases: Failures of Bargaining 4

Methodology 7

Approaches of Political Theory 9

Justification 10

Limitations 11

2. International Relations Theory l3

Theory and Reality in International Politics l4

International Relations Theory and the Cold War's Origins l6

Neorealism l8

Neorealism and the Security Dilemma 2l

Implications for Arms Negotiations 24

The Failure and Repair of Neorealism 25

Bureaucratic Politics and Organizational Process Models 28

Implications for Arms Negotiations 34

Psychological Approaches 35

Implications for Arms Negotiations 42

The GRIT Strategy 43

Summary of Competing Hypotheses 45

3. Conventional Arms Control: A Dismal Track Record 49

The Agreements and Their Puzzles 50

Negotiations Before Gorbachev--The Setting 51

The Structural Approach: A First Cut 6l

The Bureaucratic Approach: A Second Cut 72

The Psychological Approach: A Third Cut 82

4. Conclusion 89

A Synthesis 89

The Importance of Syntheses 92

Assessments from this Synthesis 98

Issues for Further Research 98

Continuing Relevance for the Military Officer 99

Bibliography 101



If you are a student, switch from political science to history.

--Robert Conquest, 1991

The abrupt end of the Cold War shattered more than policy-makers' collective

expectations. Its surprisingly peaceful and rapid closure fractured the confidence of those who hoped for a science of international politics which can grasp patterns of contemporary events and enable decision makers to foresee into the future. As a principal objective, the major theoretical approaches to international relations sought to anticipate major political upheavals, and none predicted that the rapid, peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union. "Stranger things have happened, though not much stranger," George Kennan commented years ago when discussing this possibility.1 That it occurred causes John Lewis Gaddis to powerfully suggest that international relations are a chaotic system

of indeterminacy, irregularity, and unpredictability.2 The task political scientists now face is reminiscent of its practitioners following the unexpected tragedy of World War I, to sift the data in search of a better understanding. Only after the past is satisfactory explained can confidence be reestablished in the discipline.

This thesis is part of the effort to examine the data and to explain it within the framework of political science theory, drawing lessons which may be of use in the future. This thesis selectively studies existing theories to international relations which attempt to describe, explain, and predict the processes of foreign policy decision-making and international bargaining, focusing most closely on Neorealism, bureaucratic politics and

1George F. Kennan, "America and the Russian Future," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 29 (April l95l), p. 368.

2For a detailed critique of international relations theory's treatment of the end of the Cold War, see John Lewis Gaddis, "International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War," International Security, Vol. 17 (Winter 1992/93), pp. 5-58.


psychological approaches. The theories of these approaches are contrasted to analyze two case studies of European security in detail during the Gorbachev period-multilateral conventional force negotiations in Europe, and Gorbachev's effort to define and achieve a "common European home." Three principal questions guide the analysis. First, which theories best describe the U.S. decision-making and international bargaining behaviors? Secondly, how can the theories be used together to explain the puzzling course of events? Finally, what conclusions and prescriptions can be drawn for policy-makers about the usefulness of political science theory?

This thesis concludes that the processes of U.S. decision-making and international bargaining during the Gorbachev period are complex, but understandable and capable of being explained by existing theories. Most of the puzzles which challenge the discipline can be explained by conferring greater appreciation to the interactive nature of domestic and international politics, and by recognizing that periods of upheaval in the international system have special characteristics. For such periods, both psychological and bureaucratic

politics approaches add explanations to the traditionally effective Neorealist theory. Along with answering Gaddis' critique, an understanding of how the theories may work together allows for crafting more effective policy strategies. While no methodology is completely comprehensive, an abandonment of political science for history is not justified.



The Cold War was an enduring global political and military confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, chiefly manifested as the tense and persistent standoff of strategic nuclear weapons. While most of public, political, and intellectual

effort focused on this strategic standoff, it was a consequence of insecurities largely in Europe, as each side perceived a threat to national survival due to the industrial and military capabilities of the other. This cause itself was also rooted in a deep ideological rivalry, the incompatibility of economic and political systems, each seen by the other as having expansionist aims. For both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, forward deployment of forces in Europe and the buildup of strategic nuclear weapons were reactions to the other and confirmations of rivalry that neither could risk leaving unchallenged.3

The security interests and limited resources of the United States established the dominant foreign policy goal during the Cold War: the containment of the Soviet Union, while waiting and hoping for its internal transformation. Possessing little ability to overthrow the Soviet regime without risking a horrific war, the United States' principal means to effect containment were a military strategy of deterrence, based on presenting capabilities and demonstrating a will to employ them, and a foreign policy strategy of alliances. Bargaining with the Soviets was subordinate to these strategies, largely limited to arms control discussions which might codify the building and deployment of weapons.

The end of the Cold War reflected this chain of causation, from ideological rivalry to European confrontation to global nuclear standoff. While the technological capabilities for strategic nuclear attack continue, the threat they present is now diminished by the Soviets' abandonment of ideological rivalry and the end of military and political confrontation in Central Europe. A major reason the theories of international relations failed to predict the end of the Cold War is that they looked in the wrong place. They assumed the survival of


3 This summary is simplistic, and leaves out the differing perspectives on each side's intent. These views will be addressed in Chapter 2.

the Soviet regime and a continuing ideological rivalry. U.S. attention and policy focused most on the consequences of U.S-Soviet tensions, rather than their sources.

This thesis does not attempt to autopsy the failure of Soviet studies to anticipate or fully comprehend the failed Soviet effort to reform itself A proper post-mortem must await greater access to Soviet records. Instead, this thesis focuses on U.S. decision-making and the bargaining processes by which the U.S. and Soviet Union engaged over the middle ground of European security. These processes can be examined from the available record and the statements of participants. Its study also provides insight into the processes themselves and into an important and little studied phenomenon: how leaders negotiate the political retreat of a great power amidst domestic and international tensions.

The study of process also yield insights into this important case, especially about Gorbachev's intentions and his failure to achieve them.

Until domestic change occurred in the Soviet Union, bargaining efforts in arms control could only have a limited purpose for the U.S.--to construct a more stable and less costly military balance which reinforced deterrence. These limitations presented a puzzle and a problem: Why were the U.S. and Soviet Union historically unable to take more advantage of opportunities for mutual gain within this limitation, and how can limitations be overcome so that a great power rivalry can be peacefully transformed?


During the Cold War, many observers hoped that arms control would offer a way to transcend "the brooding shadow of violence" between the U.S. and Soviet Union. These hopes proved repeatedly to be chimerical, despite the growing destructiveness of



weaponry. The historical experience was for arms control efforts to proceed quickly only to a lasting stalemate, or slowly to agreements of marginal significance, even in the presence of opportunities for mutual gain.4

Bargaining in the form of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty (INF) and Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (START) did play a role in concluding the Cold War. However, while they were among the most impressive accomplishments in the history of arms control, they were also subordinate in importance for ending the Cold War to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact, and acceptance of German reunification. These agreements largely endorsed Western proposals, ratifying the consequences rather than leading them.

Thus, containment worked, and the collapse of the Soviet system was achieved without major concessions by the United States. While policy-makers who urged firmness instead of negotiation cheer this "unconditional surrender," George F. Kennan, an "author" of containment, replies that "we did pay a great deal for it. We paid with 40 years of enormous and otherwise unnecessary military expenditures...the cultivation of nuclear weaponry...and we paid with 40 years of Communist control....We paid all of this because we were too timid to negotiate."5


4 Examples of this phenomenon are the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the Mutually Balanced Force Reduction Talks (MBFR), held from 1973-1989. Arms control is not an independent or alternative route to greater mutual security. Arms control policies are subordinate to states' foreign and defense policies. Overcoming rivalries is dependent on broader political efforts to resolve conflicts of interest. (See Alexander L. George, Philip J. Farley, and Alexander Dallin, US-Soviet Security Cooperation: Achievements, Failures, Lessons, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), p. 714-715.) Even more than for nuclear forces, mutual reductions in conventional forces offered significant prospects of financial savings and enhanced security for both sides.

5 George F. Kennan, "The Failure in Our Success," The New York Times, (March 14, 1994), p. A17.

The first case study of this thesis examines the multilateral Mutually Balanced Force Reduction Talks (MBER) and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) from 1984-89. This concludes with a discussion of the 1989-90 CFE negotiations and agreement. The case demonstrates the difficulties of traditional arms control bargaining in an attempt to answer why the U.S. and Soviet Union found direct negotiations over European security to be relatively ineffective in moderating their rivalry. Examining this case is important, as it illustrates obstacles within U.S. domestic decision-making and international bargaining processes. Further, it helps to explain the enduring nature of Cold War competition, despite many efforts by leaders on both sides to reach some accommodation. Kennan is right to suggest that arms control failed, but this is not just because of U.S. resolve. It is also because of the inherent limits of traditional arms control bargaining. Organizational models from the bureaucratic politics approach best aid in understanding this process and its limitations, although the other theories are also necessary for a complete understanding..

The limitations of traditional arms control forums inspired Mikhail Gorbachev to champion a broader bargaining effort with the United States and the Europeans over ideas. This effort to define and gain acceptance of a "common European home" from 1986-90 provides for a second case study. Gorbachev employed a strategy of unilateral concessions in an attempt to revolutionize East-West relations in Europe, seeking to replace hostility with cooperative relations and ultimately to achieve greater security at a lower levels of armaments. Gorbachev largely failed to rapidly obtain American responses

to his initiatives, and hence did not achieve the end-state he sought. Instead, and much to





Gorbachev's surprise, this effort brought unintended consequences: the collapse of communism and Soviet influence in Eastern Europe. The study of this case helps to explain this strange ending of the Cold War. It also provides important lessons about the nature of international relations and the use of strategies to transform a military stalemate. Theoretical ideas from the psychological approach to international relations best help in understanding this process, but cannot stand alone.


The last section of the paper attempts to integrate the insights of the theories and the two major case studies by briefly examining their application to another case: the 1991 reductions of tactical nuclear forces. This section illustrates how an understanding of the theories can explain the domestic and international interaction of this period, and how political science can contribute useful prescriptions to policy-makers. It also demonstrates

how a non-traditional strategy of unilateral concession in arms control may overcome suspicions between national leaders and ultimately lead to enhanced security, at least in some circumstances.


The study of political science has long recognized that the sovereignty of states provides for two levels of analysis, domestic and international. Behavior may be different for each level of analysis. Political scientists have devised many alternative theories within a few generalized approaches for each level of analysis, attempting to explain behavior in general or a specific type of phenomenon. Of course, the simple cause and effect relationships of theories do not accurately model the world faced by policy-makers, with its many variables, ambiguous evidence, and complexities of causation. While inquiry must


reflect this environment, it can only evaluate fairly simplistic hypotheses within a narrow realm of experience for probabilistic conclusions.6 Nevertheless, comparing and contrasting theories helps confirm their validity through the study of experience. Synergistically applying the insights of theories is useful, as it helps explain important events and can provide useful prescriptions for policy-makers in similar future circumstances.

This thesis is a qualitative, historical investigation contrasting in a two cases two general approaches to understanding behavior (within the context of a third approach, Neorealism). Both domestic and international levels of analysis are examined based on these approaches, as the levels are differently organized and interactive. For a problem as rich as trying to alter adversarial superpower military structures, limiting cases makes sense. Rigor is maintained by using previously developed theories confirmed in general investigation by others in many cases. Focusing on the U.S-Soviet Cold War experience between 1986 and 1991 reduces the variables which differ. Choosing two cases allows for

a "selective focused comparison" of strategies using John Stuart Mill's Method of Difference.7 Lastly, the usefulness of strategies is generalized in the last section of the paper by applying the technique of the "crucial case" method. The best test is one with handicaps to success.8 The final case exploits this technique.


6 The problems of "richness" of detail and "rigor" of examination are explored in Jack Snyder, "Science and Sovietology: Bridging the Methods Gap in Soviet Foreign Policy Studies," World Politics, Vol. 40 (January 1988), pp. 169-193. Examining too few cases forfeits the rigor of comparison and the generalizability of results. Ideally, one would examine many cases in great detail, but this presents an enormous task which compromises richness in coding cases.

7 John Stuart Mill, A System of Logic, ed. by J.M. Robson, (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1973), pp. 388-393.

8 Discussed at length by Harry Eckstein, "Case Study and Theory in Political Science," in Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby, eds. Strategies of Inquiry, Vol. 7 of Handbook of Political Science, (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1975), pp. 118-131.




The study of foreign policy decision-making in political science is marked by successive theoretical approaches, each using a different viewpoint to describe behavior and to explain specific policy decisions. Classical theorists such as Hans Morgenthau represent the first, or rational approach, focusing on the rational assessment of interests and power resources to reach value-maximizing choices. This Rational Actor Model remains useful as a quick approximation to predict choices by policy-makers in states such as the Soviet Union, where the detailed process of decision-making was hidden from public view.9 Variations of this approach attempt to apply the same rational calculations to multiple actors within a state.

The second, or bureaucratic politics approach, tries harder to understand the inner workings of government by focusing attention on the role of bureaucracies and institutions. Highlighting the role of organizational interests and bureaucratic procedures, this approach has proved useful, especially in describing the interaction within a government which leads to decision, and the subsequent implementation of policy. It serves as an effective explanation for some behaviors which appear not to be the product

of rational calculation. It views governments as largely semi-autonomous organizations and senior officials, each pursuing narrower purposes, and interacting using defined procedures.10


9 For a detailed discussion of this model, see Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1971), pp. 10-38.

10 For a detailed discussion of two variants, organizational process and bureaucratic politics, see Allison. Allison's work is limited largely to Executive branch decision-making. Others have expanded and applied

these concepts. Among them: Morton H. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1974), and Richard K. Betts, Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises,

The third, or psychological approach, returns to the consideration of decision makers making choices. However, unlike the rational approach, the theorists of this approach give more recognition to the uncertainties faced by decision-makers and the role of worldviews, cognition, and perceptions in dealing with them.11 According to this view, the inability of adversarial states to cooperate results as much from suspicion as interests. At the international level of analysis, states employ assets and bargaining to influence the object of policy--the decision-making of an adversary. Each of the domestic foreign policy decision-making approaches has implications for international bargaining, and the strategies states may employ. The anarchical international environment also constrains states and influences their behavior, based on the "systemic" relationship of the states.12


The first justification for this thesis is its potential contribution to help policy-makers seeking to overcome hostile international rivalry. While the Cold War is over, there are still many states that find themselves confronted by neighbors they distrust, and where increasing military preparations only lead to greater tensions and less security. Policy-makers benefit from a larger array of options, and a greater understanding of them.


(Cambridge: Harvard, 1977). This study will focus within this approach on the theories of organizational behavior and executive branch decision-making.

11 For a detailed discussion, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1976).

12 examine the international environment, this study will draw on the "Neorealist" theory of Ken Waltz, Theory of International Politics, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), and Robert Jervis, 'Cration Under the Security Dilemma," World Politics, Vol 30, No 2 (January l978), pp. 186-214. For a strategy to escape the difficulties of this environment I will test Charles Osgood's model for graduated reciprocation in tension reduction (GRIT), described in Deborah Welch Larson, "Crisis Prevention and the Austrian State Treaty," International Organization, Vol 41, No 1 (Winter 1987), pp. 27-60. This model draws on the psychological approach to decision-making theory.


Secondly, I hope this study will provide a sharper view of international relations theory, its application, and how separate theories may synergistically be used to explain and to prescribe. Decision makers and theorists risk irrelevance if they cannot well account for challenges to our understanding, such as the ending of the Cold War. Thirdly, this thesis contributes understanding and lessons from the cases themselves. The end of the Cold War is the most significant event of recent decades. Its details are not

yet well known, well investigated, or well understood. Its consequences are still incomplete. Dealing with them is aided by understanding their history.


This thesis has a limited overall focus. It is not an exhaustive study of international or domestic politics, arms control, or the ending of the Cold War. Instead, it is a study examining the utility of a few theoretical ideas to describe the processes of international bargaining and U.S. foreign policy decision-making during an important time. Based on an understanding of this phenomenon the study evaluates a strategy to deal with this environment.

The theoretical focus limits consideration to those theories of international and domestic policy which are widely accepted. The focus is further narrowed to the circumstance of two hostile states which present each other a security problem. The motivations which lead policy-makers to consider initiatives for change are addressed only in a general way, rather than examined in detail.

The cases examine a narrow aspect of U.S.-Soviet engagement, setting aside generally the broader relations of societies. The thesis focuses on conventional and theater

nuclear forces in preference to strategic nuclear forces. Other scholars have devoted attention to strategic weapons and the broader relationship.

To further narrow and simplify the investigation, the thesis is focused on U.S-Soviet interaction, paying less attention to the full multilateral context of the European security situation and negotiations. This is justified by the focus of the actors themselves, and by the unique security relationship between the superpowers which required them to confront each other. The validity of this simplification will be reviewed in the cases.

The research is limited as well. The breadth of possible sources is extensive, but access to them is incomplete. Scholars are only beginning to examine the records of the period and key documents will remain unavailable, sealed in government archives. The recollections of participants are beginning to emerge, but are affected by biases and the context of current debates. Most of the source material available is from the U.S. side.

Given these limitations, the conclusions of this study should still modestly add to the policy "toolbox," and assist in justifying the study of political science. Greater understanding is of value to the guardians of national security, both military and civilian.



From [the perspective of the security dilemma] the central theme of international relations is not evil, but tragedy. States often share a common interest, but the structure of the situation prevents them from bringing about the n ritually desired situation.

--Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics

Ultimately, this thesis seeks to respond to John Lewis is Gaddis' indictment of political science and to address George Kennan's assessment of failure by policy-makers. Doing so requires answers to three questions: Which theories of international relations best describe U.S. decision-making and international bargaining during the Gorbachev era? How can the theories be used to explain the course of events? What prescriptions can theory offer to

policy-makers facing similar circumstances? Answering these questions also requires a selective understanding of international relations theories which address the international environment faced by states and foreign policy decision-making. This chapters discusses the theoretical background necessary to analyze the cases and to answer the questions and to evaluate the use of theory.

This chapter will begin by describing the nature of theory and its relationship to international relations. Since the processes of international bargaining and policy decision-making occur at two levels of analysis, theories from each level will be examined in turn. Then I will discuss how each level interacts. Theories of international politics help to understand the setting of the Cold War, and make important predictions about its course. The focus of this attention will be on Ken Waltz's theory of international politics (often

referred to as "Neorealism"). This theory was popular in the 1980s, as it proved useful in explaining many of the puzzles which concerned analysts prior to the end of the Cold War. Decision-making theories provide a basis for understanding how states cope with the

situations international politics theories describe. Decision-making theories yield insights into the processes of policy-making and implementation. Concepts from two of the major approaches to decision-making theory, bureaucratic politics and psychological, are contrasted, in order to set up comparison in the cases.


Laws and probability statements in science establish relations between independent and dependent variables found repeatedly or generally. Theories are statements which explain the associations of variables relating them as causes and effects. Theories depict how a domain or system is organized and how its parts are connected, indicating the factors which are more important than others. While a theory constructs a conceptual reality, it is not the reality. Theories are simplifications which isolate, aggregate, and idealize particular factors and forces from others, allowing a more complex reality to be

dealt with intellectually.1

As simplifications of a complex reality where everything is related to everything else, theories are never "right," and cannot be completely comprehensive. Instead, the purpose of theories is to deductively generate testable hypotheses which well describe, explain, and predict phenomenon of importance to the user.2 As a result, their utility is related to the

purposes of the user. The policy-makers' greatest need is for assistance in making wise choices in an unclear environment. For them, the most useful theories are those which make international relations comprehensible and help prescribe useful strategies. The more


1 Summarized and paraphrased from Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), pp. 1-10.

2 The purposes of theory in international politics were first laid out in J. David Singer, "The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations," World Politics, Vol 14 (October 1961), pp. 78-79.


complex and unclear reality is, the more helpful and necessary theory is. Ironically, the most useful theories are not complex, but instead are par- simonious, simple to grasp, yet powerful in providing hypotheses which explain behavior and allow expectations to be drawn about alternative policy choices.

The utility of theory is also limited by the nature of the reality it addresses. Where reality itself has few parts, simply and regularly interacting, its behavior is "clocklike" and more capable of understanding and prediction. When factors and forces are related non-linearly such that small changes have large effects, prediction is inherently impossible to some degree. Such "cloudlike" phenomenon is to be expected in international politics,

with its many states, each with many institutions, and many human beings dealing with competing values.3 With more interconnections another major problem presents itself Experience offers a wider diversity of evidence. This makes it easier to find instances disconfirming a specific hypothesis, but also more difficult to refute a theory, as more theories, perspectives and paradigms can be accommodated.4 Lastly the interconnections of reality need not be uniform, requiring different theories to address them in detail.

Fortunately, all is not lost for science. Difficulty is not always impossibility. As the new science of chaos has demonstrated, even "cloudlike' phenomenon can be usefully studied. While specific weather predictions cannot be made, the climate can be understood, and the relationship of causes and effects explained, often in fairly simple


3 This problem is discussed in Gabriel A. Almond and Stephen J. Genco, "Clouds, Clocks, and the Study of Politics," World Politics, Vol 29 (July l977), pp. 482-522.

4 The distinctions of theory, perspective (referred to as shared rules and assumptions), and paradigms are defined and their role in science discussed in Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970).


terms.5 Further, domains, or levels of analysis, can be defined by their organizing principles, allowing for theories which are valid within them. Biology and chemistry are interconnected, but separate theories may address each aid still be useful.

This relationship of theory to reality has important implications for the study of international relations. For "cloudlike" phenomenon, the environment and its characteristic behavioral processes are more usefully studied than a specific event or outcome. Theory may not be proved true, only evaluated for utility against other theories. Decision-makers must still decide, and must rely on some theory of casual relationships to do so. Hence, "a theory is only overthrown by a better theory."6 The utility of theory must be examined in

each level of analysis, domestic and international, as there is no logical requirement for theory to address foreign policy formulation and international, bargaining equally well or in the same manner.


Before discussing domestic approaches such as bureaucratic politics and

psychological theory it is important to understand the setting of international politics, and how this influences the domestic environment. The study of international relations in the twentieth century has been dominated by three competing perspectives of belief: realism, idealism, and radicalism (variants of which are termed Marxism or revisionism).7 Each attempts to address the major events of international politics such as the Cold War with

5 The story of how this order was discovered in disorder in weather attems is profiled in James Gleick, Chaos: Making A New Science, (New York: Viking, l987), pp. 11-39. These ideas are only beginning to receive deliberate treatment in the social sciences.

6 James B. Conant, On Understanding Science, (New Haven: Yale, 1947), p.48, as cited in Waltz, p. 9.

7 A discussion of this typology, with examples of its use and variation is in Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations, (Princeton: Princeton University, l987).

description, explanation, and prediction. Each perspective contains theories identifying actors (such as states, leaders, or social classes) pursuing self-interests who interact with each other. The perspectives differ in the actors selected, and the values they attribute to the actors. Each perspective is highly normative and value laden, providing differing explanations for the origins of the Cold War, and differing, policy prescriptions. Each perspective has a large number of adherents, amongst whom are held significant variations

in detail of beliefs. These perspectives exist at a high level of generality. Each can incorporate such a wide spectrum of events that confirmation nor rejection is available through logical argument or contrary empirical evidence Being generally all-encompassing, theories of this perspective are actually less useful, since they do not generate many testable hypotheses which experience could disconfirm. Each is as much intellectual commitment of faith as normal science.8 How these perspectives generally viewed the Cold War is summarized in Table l.



8 The perspectives are not paradigms in Kuhn's terms. Paradigms exist at an even higher level of generality. The perspectives of international politics differ in the shared rules and assumptions held by adherents. These perspectives share the same methodological paradigm, believing in cause and effect. The distinctions and normal science are discussed in more detail in Kuhn, pp. 43-51.

9 These characterizations are simplistic and do not account for the rich variation of views within the perspectives. Each is descriptive and normative, and ultimately based on a different beliefs about human nature.


While U.S. policy during the Cold War drew principally from realist beliefs, it also occasionally pursued the normative hopes of idealism. Dissatisfaction with the level of generality of these perspectives provided the stimulus for development of more scientific approaches to theories, based on the organization of the international system, rather than domestic causes such as the intangibles of human nature. The most important, and most useful of these theories is Ken Waltz's Neorealism, for it generates many testable

hypotheses from a parsimonious set of assumptions.10


Neorealism descends from the realist perspective's focus on states. The most

important conceptual notion of Neorealism is its view of international politics as a system of sovereign states, in which each state's behavior principally results from the its relationship to other states, rather than from domestic so ices. This theory suggests that state behavior's causes and effects are to be found at the international level, allowing domestic politics to be generally ignored. Incentives and feedback from the international system are assumed to channel domestic decision-making toward the maximization of a state interests. Interests are defined by the state's relationship to others. This is especially true for security issues, as each state must look to its own survival through self-help, as no other state is obligated to protect it. The nature of the international system is one of potential war, as each state must conduct its affairs "in the brooding shadow of violence," as some states may use force at any time. The system itself has no manager.

10 The theory and its wealth of deduced hypotheses are contained in Waltz. Only the small portion of its

hypotheses necessary to lay a basis for this paper will be addressed Are. Assumptions are intellectual

constructs which lay the basis for theory. They are not assertions on fact, and are neither true nor false. See Waltz, pp. 5-6.

Unlike most predecessors, Waltz's theory captures the importance and

characteristics of the system itself, which is more than the sum of its parts.11 A system is composed of a structure and of interacting units. The

interacting units. The international system is best understood as sovereign states, each alike in kind, but unlike in relative capability, and in anarchy with respect to the others. The structure of the system is the relative arrangement of capability among all states. As Waltz demonstrates, this ordering "strongly affects the likelihood of cooperation, the extent of arms agreements, and the jurisdiction of international organizations.12

For Waltz, the most important determinate of a state's behavior is this structure (the relative arrangement of capability among all states), and the particular state's place within this arrangement. States behave differently if they are a superpower, or if they exist in a world with many powerful states rather than just two. During the Cold War, the structure was bipolar, as there were two superpowers, each with vastly greater capability than the other states.13 The structure (the independent variable) provides major incentives which constrain or promote particular state behaviors (the dependent variable) such as alliance formation and the willingness to be interdependent with others. States act under the unintended influences of their relative positions, despite desires of leaders to act differently. Thus, while holding very different personal philosophies, U.S. Presidents from Truman through Reagan found themselves under considerable compulsion of circumstance to act in the same way toward the Soviet Union.

11 Waltz's theory was not the first to take a systemic approach to international politics based on structure. Morton Kaplan addressed the issue in 1957 with his System and Process in International Politics. Since these notions are needed here only to set up this thesis, they will not be detailed fully or historically.

12 Waltz,p.116.

13 Waltz, pp. 79-103.


While fairly simple, Neorealism generates numerous hypotheses which better explain puzzling state behaviors than previous theorists. For example, why do states so strongly resist the specialization which economic theory demonstrates has comparative advantages? While wealth may grow absolutely, states must focus on security, which requires avoiding reliance on others.14 Neorealism explains why both superpowers were obsessed with minor allies such as Vietnam (the intrinsic stakes mattered far less than the issue's impact

on others and the balance between superpowers--the "domino theory"), while France's departure from NATO mattered little. In alliances among unequals, the contributions of lesser members are at once wanted and of relatively little importance.15

Traditional theories could not explain why the hostility of the Cold War had not led to open warfare. Multipolar systems were believed more stable (less "war prone") than a bipolar one (as the result of greater opportunities for states to use alliances to balance against a state whose expanding capabilities appear threatening). Neorealism answered this puzzle by suggesting that ideology mattered little to state behavior (the U.S. and Soviet Union allied to defeat Hitler), and that internal balancing (trying harder) is more reliable

and precise mechanism than alliances (external balancing). Hence, a bipolar system is more stable, which is why the Cold War endured without direct conflict. This matches the evidence and also explains why the U.S. and Soviet Union would overcome so many domestic hardships to maintain a general equilibrium in perceived capabilities (and why each side discounted its allies so heavily in these assessments).16

14 Waltz, pp. 104-107.

15 Waltz, p. 168.

16 Waltz, pp. 167-168.

Andre Gide noted, "No theory is good except on the condition that one use it to go beyond."17 Waltz theory goes beyond by characterizing international behavior. It provides novel answers to the Cold War's basic questions and give policy-makers expectations which help to guide decision-making and the formation of strategies. According to Neorealism, the Cold War was the inevitable consequence of the emergence of two superpowers as the result of World War II. Each necessarily had to fear the other's capabilities, regardless of intentions, ideologies, or particular issues such as Poland's status after World War II. Further, since each superpower possessed extensive resources

and could be expected to take whatever action necessary to preserve its relative status through the efficient mechanism of internal balancing, the Cold War could be expected to be enduring. Arms control efforts could be expected only to produce the most modest results, not transform the system. Further, since bipolarity is less war prone than its only alternative, multipolarity, this state of affairs was generally desirable. Bipolarity could be

expected to endure since the self-interested individual decisions of the superpowers would act to perpetuate it. The theory prescribes to statesmen to accept it as the best of possible worlds, and to resist futile efforts to change it.18


According to Neorealism, security is relational. An increase in one state's security decreases the security of others. The term "security dilemma" describes the condition in


17 Andre Gide, Journals, (1918), trans. Justin O'Brien, in Rhoda Tripp, ed., The International Thesaurus of Quotations, (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), p. 635.

18 Waltz, pp. 194-210. This summary barely does justice to the rich prescriptions and predictions of the theory. The argument that bipolarity is in many ways desirable still resonates. For an example, see John J. Mearsheimer, "Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War," Atlantic, Vol 266 (August 1990), pp. 35-


which states, unsure of others' intentions, arm for the sake of security, setting in motion a vicious circle of response and counter-response. Security dilemmas result from situations, not states' desires.19

Robert Jervis explains how security dilemmas may - make all states simultaneously worse off. The offense has the advantage when it is strategically easier to destroy an opposing army and to seize territory than it is to defend. If the offense is the dominant technique, then a surprise attack can be effective and even status-quo states have a strong incentive for aggression. A belief that the offense is the dominant technique leads to the

belief that wars will be short. This causes states to pursue close alliances, and high levels of armaments and readiness, as economic strength cannot be mobilized in time after hostilities begin. When fears exist that offensives might be effective, and that offensive weaponry is relatively indistinguishable from defensive weaponry, then an unstable security dilemma results. Solely based on evaluating opposing capabilities, each state finds that it must increase its armaments. The arms race that results only worsens the position of

every state, as vulnerability increases at higher levels of offensive weaponry. Despite bearing the costs of armament for greater security, each sate finds itself less secure.20

The defense may be the "stronger form of war than attack," but it is not always equally effective strategically.21 Defenses may be overwhelmed, out maneuvered, or not work quickly enough. As Germany's 1940 defeat of France illustrates, equal or greater


19 Waltz, pp. 186-187.

20 Summarized from Robert Jervis, "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma," World Politics, Vol 30 (January 1978), pp. 167-214, reprinted in Robert Art and Robert Jervis, International Politics, 2nd ed. (Little, Brown and Company, 1985). When a state has aggressive signs instead of accepting the status

quo, it presents others with a security problem, not a dilemma. This only reinforces imperatives to arm.

21 The idea that the defense is stronger is argued by Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and transl. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, l984), p. 366.


force levels do not always provide adequate security. Whether the offense has the advantage, and whether offensive weapons can be distinguished from defensive ones are consequences principally of geography and technology, largely outside the control of states.22

U.S. and Soviet forces in Europe during the Cold War met the conditions generally of a security dilemma. While both the United States and Soviet Union were secure from invasion due to their geographic isolation and nuclear ret-taliatory capability, their positions in Europe were more difficult. Each feared the forces of the other, despite their formal acceptance of the territorial status quo in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act. Close proximity

prevented trading space for time. High lethality and mobility of weaponry typically favors surprise offensives.23 Each side's alliance behavior and military doctrine demonstrated these concerns.24 The flexibility of combined arms warfare blurs distinctions between defensive and offensive characteristics of weapons, as "defensive" weaponry enables strategic offensive operations by securing flanks or gains seized through surprise.25 A short war posed special concern for the United States, with its geographic separation from


22 Jervis in Art and Jervis, p. 190.

23 Some have argued to the contrary, especially as precision guided missiles capable of defeating armor and aircraft became more widely available. However, this still generally favors a surprise offensive, as it gives a greater ability to defend that which was seized with the advantage of surprise.

24 U.S. Airland Battle doctrine which emerged in the early 1980s was highly focused on the offensive, in keeping with the dominant combined arms military theory of the middle 20th century. Its development is discussed in L.D. Holder, "Offensive Tactical Operations," Military Review (December 1993), pp. 48-56.

Soviet thinking also recognized the uncertainties possible from a given military balance. As a result, Soviet military doctrine included an emphasis on pre-emptive offensive warfare. See Fritz W. Ermarth, "Contrasts in American and Soviet Strategic Thought," in Derek Lebaert, Soviet Military Thinking,

(London: George, Allen & Unwin, 1981), pp. 65-66.

25 See Richard K. Betts, "Systems for Peace or Causes of War? Collective Security, Arms Control, and the New Europe," International Security, Vol l7, No 1 (Summer l992) footnote, pp. 33-34.

Europe. Forward deployed, permanent forces at a high level of readiness were expensive, but still maintained over a long time period.

Neorealism suggests that two bipolar great powers share interests in acting to maintain the international system, rather than to transform or transcend it.26 Yet, security dilemmas threaten to lessen each power's security and cannot be easily resolved. They present a tradeoff between undesirable choices of ineffective spending and accepting insecurity. Three possibilities are available to restrain an unstable arms race, and each was

used in part during the Cold War. States may accept the risks of insecurity, balancing it against the domestic risks associated with higher defense costs. Tactical nuclear weapons may be deployed to link strategic nuclear deterrence to theater forces.27 Cooperation in arms control can limit the most threatening weaponry and help reduce suspicions by making each side's actions more visible to the other.


Neorealism and the presence of a security dilemma make arms control both

necessary and difficult. Based on the theory, several hypotheses can be deduced about the character of arms control in a bipolar, Cold War world. Arms control will be limited, based on careful bargaining over technical capabilities and quantities, rather than over intentions. Bargaining consists of incremental compromises in turn by each side ("tit for tat"). Equal force levels do not necessarily lead to agreement. Concerns will focus as much on the nature of weaponry as on mutual force levels. Bipolarity minimizes the possibilities

for misperception, confusion, and unpredictable interactions. Over time, bipolarity should


26 Waltz, p. 2O4. Alternatives are less desirable.

27 Nuclear weapons are deterrent, neither offensive nor defensive. (See Jervis, in Art and Jervis, pp. l93-l94.) Their potential use added uncertainty, but did not resolve the security dilemma.

evolve from confrontation toward limited peaceful coexistence as rivals gain experience with each other and discover that international pressures induce each to have similar, conservative outlooks. Both sides will worry more about the points at issue than their effect on others.28 Arms control will be subordinate to larger realms of military and foreign policy. Because of these larger realms, arms control will only be able to moderate, rather than transform a hostile security relationship.

The confirmation of deduced hypotheses by observational experience during the Cold War provided a wide following to Waltz's theory among theorists and analysts. Its contemporary critics mostly focused on its static and pessimistic characterization of the Cold War as enduring and more desirable than its alternatives. As Robert Keohane noted, "Realism helps us determine the strength of the trap, but does not give us much assistance in seeking to escape."29 Yet even these critics accepted most of Waltz's explanations of experience. At best, they hoped for gradual transformation of the Cold War through

growing economic interdependence or rejection of the use of force by states.30


The rapid, asymmetrical, and peaceful end of the Cold War certainly defied the

predictions Waltz deduced from his theory. While no other theories forecast this possibility either, the explicit and undeniable failure of Neorealism is most responsible for the crisis in political science. John Gaddis would abandon the discipline for studies of non-

28 Bipolarity and its consequence of gradual, limited cooperation is discussed in Waltz, pp. 172-175.

29 Robert O. Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics, (New York: Columbia University, l986), p. l99.

30 For examples of this literature, see John G. Ruggie or Robert O. Keohane's articles in Neorealism and Its Critics, Robert O. Keohane and Joseph S. Nye, Power and Interdependence, 2nd ed., (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co., l989), pp. 221-242., and John Mueller, Retreat From Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War, (New York: Basic Books, 1989).


linear chaos, while Ted Hopf excuses failure as the lack of asking the right questions.31 As Neorealism helped to prevent the right questions from being asked, Gaddis is right about its failure. However, he is wrong to reject the theory or the discipline entirely. The theory needs a better understanding and repair, not discarding.

So far, Ken Waltz fails to conduct a successful repair effort. He responds rather ineffectually by maintaining that "bipolarity endures, but in an altered state." He accepts that his prediction of endurance was upset by a domestic cause, economic weakness, but offers only vagueness to explain what happened or how: For a combination of internal and external reasons [left unidentified by Waltz], Soviet leaders tried to reverse their country's precipitous fall in international standing but did not succeed."32

Repairing Waltz's theory is not impossible, but does require insights from other theories which went unrecognized at the time. Understanding why the Soviet Union failed is not difficult. Precisely because bipolarity exerts strong pressure for internal balancing, the Soviet Union was pushed to its economic limits in trying to stay competitive with the United States, especially militarily. To Waltz's theory comparative economics must be

added. In the search for parsimony, Waltz confused stability to mean both "enduring" and "not war prone." Bipolarity was not war prone, but it was not enduring, as it contained the seed of its own demise.33 This idea also fits Stephen Kramer's image of the international


31 See Gaddis, "International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War," pp. 53-58., and Ted Hopf, "Getting the End of the Cold War Wrong," (letter responding to Gaddis), International Security, Vol l8, No 2 (Fall l993), pp. 202-208. While Gaddis also addresses the failure of behavioral and evolutionary

approaches, these theories had far less utility during the 1980s. Neorealism is the primary focus of Gaddis' critique.

32 Kenneth N. Waltz, "The Emerging Structure of International Politics," International Security, Vol 18, No 2 (Fall 1993), pp. 44-52.

33 To avoid confusion I have not repeated Waltz's error in my earlier discussion of his theory. Waltz did not assume that the international system was completely closed. He assumed bipolarity provided enough negative feedback to offset the outside influences of domestic politics and economics. While this was



system as tectonic plates. Uneven growth creates pressures between the plates. Without gradual adjustment pressures build until an earthquake brings realignment.34 Waltz theory well explains why gradual adjustment did not occur, making an earthquake inevitable. The theory cannot explain the earthquake's details and why it was peaceful.

As an examination of the case will show, Waltz is correct that Soviet leaders did not just abandon bipolarity, but tried to save it by internal am external reform. Understanding

what happened requires a clearer picture of Neorealism's limitations and how it claims the hidden structures of international relations act. Neorealis paints only a broad picture, rather than attempting to explain particular policies:


To expect it to do so would be like expecting the theory of universal gravitation to explain the wayward path of a falling leaf. A theory at one level of generality cannot answer questions about matters at another level of generalty.35


Neorealism acts at through incentives and negative feedback to constrain behavior within certain bounds. Its influence is felt most over time and as states act out of line with the interests their position and sovereignty define.

Neorealism's relationship to the end of the Cold War can also be understood with the metaphor of quantum mechanical tunneling of a particle in a potential well. In classical physics, a particle cannot escape a voltage barrier of greater energy, because every attempt is met with negative feedback, matching the energy of the effort. Waltz's notion


largely correct for a long time some of the economic influences were cumulative, while negative feedback was not. In such an open system, rapid "earthquakes" of change cat. be expected when the threshold of negative feedback is exceeded. For the notion of an open system and its relation to negative feedback see Floyd H. Albert, Theories of Perception and the Concept of Structure, (New York: Wiley, l955), pp. 474-475, 484-485, as cited in Betts, "Systems for Peace or Causes of War," footnote, pp. 29-3O.

34 Stephen Krasner used this metaphor for a different purpose, to explain the relationship of regimes to realism. Krasner, "Regimes and the Limits of Realism: Regimes as Autonomous Variables," International Organization, Vol 36, No 2 (Spring l982).


35 Waltz, p. 121.

of Neorealism resembles this classical picture. Yet, fundamental to transistors is the fact that escape can still occur. Quantum mechanics explains this phenomenon by focusing on the potential for tunneling, if the width of the barrier is sufficiently thin and the time short. The height of the barrier (the strength of restraining forces) is not all that matters. By analogy, Neorealism may reject the possibility for inevitable gradual transformation while

embracing the possibility of a rapid, contingent one.36 Thus understanding the end of the Cold War must look beyond why and what to how the event proceeded. Such an understanding must incorporate other theories at a lower level of generality, acting synergistically within the context of Neorealism and the particular circumstances. Because arms control in Europe is directly tied to substance of the issues, and because it is a visible pattern of behavior open to investigation, it constitutes a good place to start looking.


Two characteristics distinguish the ideal notion of domestic governance from the international realm. Domestic governance is of hierarchy rather than anarchy. Because of hierarchy, domestic institutions are interdependent and fractionally different. Each is ideally loyal not to itself and its own interests, but to the entire state, especially when the state faces external threats to its survival. Secondly, the potential for violence as the

ultimate arbiter among sovereign states is absent among state institutions. Instead, institutional conflicts are submitted according to the state's laws to the binding authority of decision-makers responsible for the entire state's affairs. These distinguishing


36 Analogy has its risks, but it is noteworthy that the shift from multipolarity to bipolarity in 1945 was also the result of rapid transformation. Chaos is not necessary to formulate a political theory

of rapid change. Stephen D. Krasner discusses such an approach for regime theory, using an analogy to tectonic plates in "Regimes and the Limits of Realism: Regimes as Autonomous Variables," International Organization,

Vol 36, No 2 (Spring 1982).

characteristics give rise to a distinct domestic level of political analysis, described by different theories than those of international politics.

Because of these characteristics, early studies of international politics largely treated domestic foreign policy decision-making as a single ratio .al actor, attempting to maximize its utility within a calculus of self-interest. This approach o analysis remains in use today, to evaluate the politics of other states about whose inner Workings we have little information, and to create a hypothetical ideal, from which we can normatively assess

policy-making and policy.

American scholars began to reassess this approach in the 1950s. The classic approach seemed to provide little explanatory power for historical cases or descriptive power for the decision-making process. Gradually, scholars recognized that the growth of bureaucracy with its distributed powers and functions challenged the notions of absolute hierarchy and unitary analysis within a state. The high stakes of the Cold War made it imperative to undertake the difficult task of opening up the "black box" of decision-making, in hope that the effort would help avert disaster. Greater American involvement in

international affairs also raised attention to the problem and generated more available information for analysis. For the first time since the American Revolution, international affairs in peacetime were everyone's concern.

Conceptualizing a domestic level of analysis of international relations and developing models for its study were gradual tasks involving many scholars. The first landmark in this development was a 1954 article by Richard Snyder, H.W Bruck, and Burton Sapin. It was the first to propose a political process theory which would I get beyond the rational, unitary

actor approach. They suggested that decision-making is distinct from the interaction of states, and that decision-making depends on the ways decision-makers as actors define their situation in terms of perceptions, choices, and expectations. Both external and internal factors are important in the general and particular setting. These can be studied by focusing on the action and interaction of decision-makers who act in the name of the state.37

Many others helped to define the nature of the political process. Roger Hilsman concluded that "policy making is a political process," of conflict and consensus building in group decision making. Many actors of unequal influence and differing interests and values contend in an environment of inexact information. This leads to oversimplified debate, incrementalism, and the masking of debate over means as a hidden disagreements about goals.38 Good policy becomes that which is broadly supported, not that which is most

effective. Presidents arbitrate and cajole among quasi-sovereign institutions within government in a "strain toward agreement."39 This process was generally conceptualized as occurring within "concentric rings" of policy-making: the President's inner circle of


37 Summarized from Richard C. Snyder, H.W. Bruck, and Burton Sapin, "The Decision Making Approach to the Study of International Politics," in James N. Rosenau, ed., International Politics and Foreign Policy: A Reader in Research and Theory, (revised edition). (New York: Free Press, 1969), pp. 199-206.

For this discussion of political process theory I am indebted to Jay M. Parker, "Understanding Intervention: The Utility of Decision-Making Theory," Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University (1991), pp. 22-24.

38Summarized from Roger Hilsman, The Politics of Policy Making in Defense and Foreign Affairs, (New York: Harper & Row, l97l), pp. 117-119, 124-128, 135-138, based on groundbreaking articles Hilsman wrote in the 1950s.

39 See especially Warner Schilling, "The Politics of National Defense: Fiscal 1950," in Schilling, Paul Y. Hammond, and Glenn H. Snyder, Strategy, Politics, and Defense Budgets, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), p. 23.

advisors, expanding outward to include the Executive departments, Congress, the press, interest groups, and the attentive public.40

While descriptively rich, the focus on the process had too many variables for parsimonious explanation. This led to the development of more simplified models which substituted descriptive accuracy for more utility in case studies. The most important landmark work of these studies was Graham Allison's examination of the Cuban missile crisis.41 Allison codified a bureaucratic politics model and an organizational process model which better explained key aspects of the Cuban missile crisis than the rational actor approach.42

The bureaucratic politics model focuses on the decision-making of the President with his inner circle of advisors. The organizing concepts of the model which aid in explaining the resultant decision are the central questions: who plays? what determines each player's stand? each player's impact? and how are players' stands combined to yield governmental decisions and actions? For Allison, players are defined by the governmental positions they hold (such as Secretary of Defense). Players choose their stands as the result of personal

interests and stakes in an issue, with the dominant pattern being "where you stand depends on where you sit." A player's influence, or power, results from the player's skill, will, and bargaining advantages within an interactive "game" to influence Presidential policy


40 Hilsman, pp. 118-122.

4l Graham Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, (Boston: Lime, Brown and Company, 1971).

42 Allison's work was important as a "hard case" study of the rational actor model. The rational actor model should have worked in this circumstance, and it did not. The important conclusion is that decision-makers in a nuclear world need to be very careful, since there is less; rationality or control over policy than they assume. Robert J. Art distinguished Allison's work as originating a "second wave" of theory, distinct from the first wave of political process theories. See Art, "Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign

Policy-A Critique," Policy Sciences, Vol 4 (1973), pp. 467-468.

choices. The "rules of the game" are defined by law and custom, establishing the procedures by which players "pull and haul" with each other on a particular policy.43 While Presidents still decide, overruling his advisors is a choice which is not exercised lightly.44

The organizational process model best illustrates how an institution within a government set the agenda for a decision and control a decision's implementation. It recognizes that much of a government's behavior results s outputs of large organizations sharing power and acting according to procedures, rather than as deliberate choices. Size prevents any single central authority from making all decisions. Problems are cut up and

parceled out, as is the power to act. Organizational missions and pre-established routines direct how problems are handled, resulting in biases in

priorities and perceptions, limited flexibility, and neglected tradeoffs. Instead of optimizing he response to a problem, organizations "satisfice," choosing the first acceptable alternative discovered in a deliberate search process.45 Government leaders can intervene to change an organization's activity, but the effect is largely temporary, unless missions are formally altered and organizational structure changed.46 Change normally occurs incrementally. Organizations are capable of learning and rapid change, but only under dramatic stimuli such as


43 Summarized from Allison, pp. 164-180.

44 Theodore C. Sorenson, Decision-Making in the White House, (New York: Columbia University Press, l963), pp. 78-83.

45 This"cognitive" limit on rationality was first pointed out in Jam s G. Marsh and Herbert A. Simon, Organizations, (New York: John Wiley and Sons, l958), pp. 169-171. They also noted how organizational adaptation was goal oriented, incremental, and fragmented.

46 The frustration this creates is exemplified by Franklin Roosevelt'; description, that changing anything in the Department of the Navy is like "punching a feather bed," an. John F. Kennedy's assertion that the

State Department "is a bowl of jelly." Allison, pp. 86-87.

budgetary feast, prolonged budgetary famine, or major performance failure. In sum, organizations are blunt instruments.47

Together these two models give a useful framework for case studies. Deduced hypotheses are generally confirmed by these studies, increasing the understanding of how practice deviates from the rational ideal. Many other scholars have accepted the importance of political and organizational behavior for foreign policy making involving national security.48 An extensive literature exists detailing the general behaviors of American bureaucracies and large organizations.

In addition to illustrations, other scholars have bridged Allison's two models and qualified Allison's basic ideas.50 Anthony Downs confirmed how individual rational behaviors promote suboptimal organizational action in bureaucracies generally.51 In essence, bureaucratic/organizational theory ascribes the rational actor to a lower level. Morton Halperin's study of ABM deployment tied together Allison's two distinct models, demonstrating how centralized decision-making interacted with organizational control of

agendas. His study makes clear how organizational bias accumulates against change or for certain programs. Yet, he also shows how a key player such as Robert McNamara was


47 Summarized from Allison, pp. 67-95.

48 For an examples of the utility of these ideas can be found in Morton H. Halperin and Arnold Kanter, Readings in American Foreign Policy: A Bureaucratic Perspective, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, l974).

49 For an example of the former see James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It, (New York: Basic Books, 1989). For an important early example of the latter see James G. March and Herbert A. Simon, Organizations, (New York: John Wiley and Sons, l958).

50 While the division of Allison's two models make sense, their separation is artificial in practice. Further, Allison's terminology is confusing. The bureaucratic politics model is about politicized central decision-making outside the bureaucracy. The organizational process model is about behavior within government bureaucracies, not processes in the more generic category of organizations. Despite these problems I will use Allison's terms.

51 Downs also describes a range of individual behaviors and offers a large number of hypotheses. Anthony Downs, Inside Bureaucracy, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, l967), pp. 261-280.



able to overcome it.52 Richard Betts normatively argues for the responsibility of the central players, in order to offset the indirect influence of military bureaucracies which condition the decision-makers' frame of reference.53 Robert Art criticized the bureaucratic approach for undervaluing the different mind-sets of players, and the larger milieu of domestic politics, including the press and Congress. Further, he complains that the approach leaves out the international context, risking incompleteness the insights of the

systemic perspective. The two approaches must work together for a fuller explanation.54


Despite these problems, the bureaucratic approach has much to say about foreign policy making as it is, rather than as an ideal. In describing the organizational setting and the politics of decision, the approach provides understanding how policy is made and how states respond to each other. Prescriptively, it gives policy-makers a roadmap to foster change. For arms control there are significant implications. In interpreting intelligence,

bureaucracies filter uncertainty though a lens of self-justification, making it difficult for policy-makers to get a clear assessment of an adversary, especially where change is involved.55 Organizations will have blind-spots to opportunities outside their routines and standard operation procedures. Policy-makers will have difficulty promoting lasting change unless they act to alter organizational structures and missions. In the absence of positive action to increase the range of choice, to alter the "action-channels" and to build a


52 Morton H. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1974), pp. 297-310.

53 Richard K. Betts, Soldiers, Statesmen and Cold War Crises, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977), pp. 209-212.

54 Art, pp. 489-490.

55 Betts, Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises, p. 210.


consensus among the central players, policy-makers will have difficulty realizing more than incremental change.

At the international level there are three major implications. First, as Halperin observes, care must be taken to avoid assigning unity of purpose and action to other governments. Interaction of states is rooted not only in their structural position, but also in internal situations, domestic conflicts and perceptions.56 Secondly as international negotiations funnel through international bureaucracies or defined procedures, state interaction itself takes on its own organizational behaviors with the impediments they

impose for change. Thirdly, the domestic and international levels of analysis constitute a "two level game," each with its own rules of play.57 Since the objective of negotiations is to change an adversary's behavior, successful stratagems will reflect the two games. In essence, state leaders will find the need to conspire together if they are to overcome the domestic obstacles each faces. Neither Neorealism nor bureaucratic politics provides much guidance how other leaders can be engaged for such join action. For this prescription,

psychological theory suggests some useful concepts.


Both Neorealism and bureaucratic politics approaches focus on how situations influence behavior. In each, leaders act under constraints and incentives which limit their range of choice. Leaders can be expected to act in same ways in similar circumstances.


56 Halperin pp. 311-313.

57 I have borrowed this notion of "two level games" from Robert D. Putnam. Putnam focuses on how they interact to limit the bargaining range, or "win-win sets." I have focused on how each level has different rules. I will use psychological theory to illustrate how leaders can act within such an environment, instead of being narrowly confined by it. See Putnam, "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Vol 42, No 3 (Summer 1988) pp. 427-460.

While this helps to explain consistent patterns of behavior among states and leaders with varying ideologies but similar situations, it leaves little to explain diversity in perceptions, beliefs, or policy choices. As Halperin, Betts, Art and others have shown in case studies, not all policy disagreements result from different roles. Equally challenging to bureaucratic politics is consistency among players with different roles, especially where the hindsight of failure suggests obvious information was disregarded.58 From such difficulties and studies a literature emerged discussing the role of psychological beliefs and mind sets in foreign policy.

Psychological theories address how policy-makers individually and collectively misperceive their environment and error in assumptions they make in the absence of facts. Consequently, this approach generally developed inductively, resting on patterns discovered in case studies. The degree of importance attributable to psychological theory in political science is related to the "cloudlike" complexity of the environment and the lack of information available to decision-makers. Before decision-makers can act they must

select simplistic models and theories and make assumptions. The more complex and uncertain the environment, the wider the range of choice decision-makers have, and the greater the opportunity for error as a result of misperception or false beliefs. Thus,


58 These two difficulties are noted in Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 26. (Hereafter cited as Jervis, PMP.) Two examples of this latter phenomenon: U.S. forces' reckless advance to the Yalu in November 1950, of which Dean Acheson would write, "None of us, myself prominently: included, served [the President] as he was entitled to be served." and expectations that gradual escalation would induce North Vietnam to compromise. See Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They

Made, (New York: Simon and Schuster, l986), pp. 535-541, and David Halberstrain, The Best and the Brightest, (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1973).

diversity of beliefs and the frequency of error substantiate the importance of psychology in foreign policy formation. Error may be random or systematic, individual or collective. The use of images to analyze and prescribe political action has a long history l the study of international politics.59 It is an especially common phenomenon in biography of leaders, a part of the "Great Man" approach to policy studies. occasionally valuable, such studies are

inevitably post hoc, and rarely useful for wider application involving other individuals.

Other works can be divided into two groups: multiple case studies classifying individual leaders into distinct cognitive types, and discussions which attempt to aggregate individual psychology into larger phenomenon.61 Multiple case studies of cognitive types have generally tied Presidential personality to the procedural process of decision-making within Hilsman's "inner ring" of bureaucratic politics. Behavior is typed by the organizational procedures each President selects to channel information and advice.

Predictions are inferred based on the relative weaknesses and strengths of each

management style.62 While more systematic, these effort suffer a circular logic linking


59 Among historical examples: Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, transl. by Rex Warner, (New York: Viking-Penguin, l972), pp. 72-87, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, l946), pp. 183-188.

60 An early example: Alexander L. George and Juliette L. George, Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study, (New York: John Day, 1956). Some recent examples: Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), and Gail Sheehy, The Man Who Changed the World: The Lives of Mikhail S. Gorbachev, (New York: HarperCollins, 1990).

6l This classification is from Fred Greenstein, "The Impact of Personality on Politics: An Attempt to Clear Away the Underbrush," American Political Science Review, Vol 61 (September l967), pp. 63 l-633, and Greenstein, Personality and Politics: Problems of Evidence, Inference, and Conceptualization, 2d ed.,

(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. x-xi., as discussed in Parker, pp. 43-45.

62 Three of the most prominent examples of this approach are James D. Barber, The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House, 2d ed., (Eglewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1977), and Alexander L. George, Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy, (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980), and Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan, (New York: Free Press, 1990). George classified Presidents into models: competitive (Roosevelt), collegial (Kennedy), and varying formalistic ones (Truman, Eisenhower,

style and procedure. They can help with case study analysis of individuals, but

prescriptions are generally mild or impossible, such as awareness of blind spots or advocacy of changing processes (which conflicts with the assumption that style is rooted in character).

Attempting broader studies to aggregate the psychology of many individuals into larger phenomenon is a more difficult approach, but potentially more useful due to its broader transferability of lessons and addressing of systematic, collective errors. Three subcategorizes can be delineated in this approach based on the number of individuals addressed: individual psychology, small group psychology, and social psychology

(between groups or states). Each effort contributes to explanation, although they also share some of the multiple case studies' weaknesses. They are often highly inductive, with lists of mild, broad prescriptions. While more broadly applicable than post hoc Presidential studies, the transferability of general individual and grout studies is questionable. Doing so depends on the unlikely proposition that policy-makers in specific situations behave similarly to less selected individuals and groups within society in general situations. The

best studies of each effort must still focus on policy-makers and the particular problems of international relations.

In foreign policy, as in all other areas of human affairs, decisions are ultimately the product of the individual human mind's thought processes. The study of bias as a human phenomenon shared by policy-makers alike reflects this, based on the proposition that within perception, cognition, and decision, a "great deal of information processing is


Nixon). (George, pp. 145-168.) Each has its own particular faults, leading George to advocate a fourth model, multiple advocacy.

conducted apparently prior to and certainly independently of conscious direction."63 Numerous psychological studies demonstrate that the mind deals with uncertainty and complexity by inferences which associate one phenomenon with others. With time and experience, these inferences build a structure of beliefs. This structure of established views helps in coping with new information and future circumstances, as it provides simplistic shortcuts for perception and understanding. However, shortcuts also introduce error. The

mind closes to possibilities which are not within the set of beliefs, and it interprets ambiguous information in ways which reinforce existing views. In essence, theories are both necessary and dangerous.64

The problem of simplistic images is similar, but distinct from the widely accepted notion of Thomas Kuhn that people infer an entire world view, or paradigm, based on their inferences, education, and popular social culture. Kuhn's paradigms are all encompassing. Acceptance of a change in paradigms requires scientific revolution and usually displacement of believers by a new generation.65 With less consistent, partial and disputed theories, the "softer" discipline of politics allows for beliefs which are strongly, but not irrefutably held. Policy-makers can risk reevaluating their beliefs, but only are likely to do so broadly in the presence of significant information which calls them into question. Changing beliefs is difficult, but possible became they are more tentatively held than a paradigm.


63 John D. Steinbruner, The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Political Analysis, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), p. 92.

64 Robert Jervis, "Hypotheses on Misperception," World Politics, Vol 20, No 3 (April l968), pp. 454-458.

65 See Kuhn, pp. l5O-l5l, or John L. Casti, Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science, (New York: William Morrow and Company, l989), pp. 38-48. Much of the psychological literature cites Kuhn, but fails to recognize the distinctions which separate beliefs from paradigms. There are important,

as paradigms are much more strongly held than beliefs.

The goal of politics is also distinct from science's effort to seek the most consistent, elegant and encompassing understanding. While normal science proceeds from agreement on method and world view to cumulatively filling out of details through experiment, politics lacks such a consensus. Further, politics is characterized by many enduring dilemmas without fixed solutions and is without controlled laboratory facilities. Politicians must act as "naive scientists," problem solving with simplistic tools and unsophisticated

knowledge.66 Policy-making requires choices among alternatives with opposite dangers in the presence of ambiguous information and to serve maw conflicting values. Political beliefs and the policies and organizational structures based on them can be changed more readily.

An example of these dilemmas in which beliefs play a key situational role is the general problem of whether to compromise or stand firm toward an adversary. Firmness may produce unnecessary conflict by escalating tensions, but compromise may increase an aggressor's appetite for exploitation of the situation. In the general circumstance there is no dominant strategy and neither country controls the level of tensions. As long as basic beliefs about the other side's intentions are wrong, policy will lead down a blind alley.

Since perceptions of intentions are crucial and shortcuts rationality may be

systematically wrong, successful policy strategies will be those that can compensate for the biases resulting from the psychology of perception an decision-making.67

67 Deborah Larson, Origins of Containment: A Psychological Explanation, (Princeton, Princeton University Press, l985), pp. 34-35. See also Parker, p. 54.

68 For a full discussion of this dilemma of spiral theory versus deterrent theory see Jervis, PMP, pp. 58-113. For a detailed treatment of cases illustrating the dilemma see Alexander George and Richard Smoke,

Deterrence in American Foreign Policy. Theory and Practice, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974).

While recognizing the ambiguities of dilemmas and politics can lower cognitive barriers, cognitive theory also suggests three general ways they are raised as uncertainties such as intentions are subjectively resolved. The first is t filter information by the weight of beliefs in memory. The second is the use of shortcuts in argumentation such as ignoring tradeoffs or reasoning from analogy, wishful thinking. and negative images.68 The third is to converge on the judgments of others. Studies document that people will conform to the

erroneous but uniform judgments of a group of peers, resisting evidence to the contrary from other sources.69

In the study of a number of foreign policy fiascoes, living Janis has demonstrated how the narrowness of elite small groups of leaders can lead to "groupthink," the deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment as a result of in group pressures which override realistic appraisals of courses of action as members strive for unanimity. cohesive, insulated, stressed, and homogeneous groups are more likely to be subject to occasional groupthink. As pressure; to conform begin to dominate, the striving for unanimity bolsters the least objectionable alternative.71 To change the

mind-set of an elite leadership group is more difficult than to change that of an average group or individual.


68 See Steinbruner, p. l2l. For illustrations how "irrational cognitive consistency can thus spawn policies that create the worst of all possible worlds," see Jervis, PMP, pp. l 7-2O2.

69 Steinbruner p. 121. Far studies, Steinbruner cites S. Asch, "Effects of Group Pressures on the Modification and Position of Judgments," in H. Guetzkow, ed., Groups, Leadership and Men, (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Press, 1951), pp. 117-190.

70 Irving L. Janis, Victims of Groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes, (Boston: Houghton Muffin, 1972), p. 9.

71 Irving L. Janis and Leon Mann, Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment, (New York: Free Press, 1977), pp. 129-133.

Social psychology theory examining the interaction between groups and polities builds on the earlier works, focusing attention to the consequences of the shared beliefs of elite policy-makers.72 Robert Jervis details the environment of this interaction as one extensive misperception and uncertainty, a "fog of foreign policy-making." States tend to maintain policies in the face of new information, and tend to interpret information to find what they expect. Decision-makers tend to view other nations as more centralized and more hostile than later evidence will document.73 Deborah Larson uses these ideas to

explain the origins of U.S. containment policy. Theory drove information processing as much as data. Decision-makers acted largely from narrow beliefs and analogies. Behavior, in the form of acting and deciding further reinforced hostility and commitment to the pre-existing beliefs.74


Because it is highly inductive, descriptively rich, and based on hard-to-measure beliefs, psychological theory is not easily tested directly in cases. However, its concepts can have useful explanatory power in evaluating the successes or failures of leaders to achieve their goals. Further, the theory offers cautions and prescriptions for leaders which can form the basis of policy initiatives and strategies. Eve events which have ambiguous

results can be assessed based on the manner in which they proceeded.75

72 Early examples of this literature are Ross Stagner, Psychological Aspects of International Conflict, (Belmont, CA: Brooks /Cole, l967), and Joseph H. deRivera, The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy, (Columbus, OH: Charles Merrill, l968).

73 "Jervis, PMP, p. 113, 191,319, 424.

74 See Larson, Origins of Containment, pp. 20-25, 42-43. See also Parker, pp. 5l-55.

75 Arguably the end of the Cold War on Western terms is an ambiguous outcome. Its larger historical evaluation must await future judgment, based on consequences which have yet to occur in Russia, the

region, and the larger world. Already there is some nostalgia in the West for the simplicity of the Cold War.

As a result of psychological shortcuts and mind-set, international bargaining can be expected to be a difficult "dialogue of the deaf." Perceptions will not always be shared. Misperceptions will be common. Leaders, their beliefs, aid those of their key assistants \will have a coherency greater than that expected as a result of bureaucratic politics, but will include different biases in information processing. Bargaining will be more successful

when the sides take the roles of perception and social psychology into account.

Taken together, the psychological approaches offer an additional layer of

explanation for the difficulties of transforming a hostile relationship between states. A long history of hostility, differing social systems, and the reinforcement of images by their use in domestic debates conspire to overwhelm incremental, gradual efforts. A "tit for tat" bargaining approach which focuses on capabilities might stabilize a relationship, but cannot transform it. For transformation, mind-sets must be overcome by strategies which change an adversary's perception of one's intentions.


Charles Osgood's program for graduated reciprocation in tension reduction (GRIT) is a strategy of cooperation which takes into account the difficulties discussed in social psychological theory.76 It is intended to facilitate negotiation between bitter, long term adversaries. Once a system is under tension as threats have begun to spiral it is very difficult for negotiation or verbal reassurance to be effective, as each side interprets actions within a framework of an enemy Image. Ambiguous events and random statements are perceived to confirm hostility. Until enemy images of intent are altered to an


76 Charles E. Osgood, Alternatives to War or Surrender, (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1962), pp. 85-134.

atmosphere of trust, bargaining will be futile or counterproductive. Concessions are inferred as signs of weakness, stiffening the adversary's resolve rather than facilitating cooperation. The GRIT strategy initiator's purpose is to first alter the target state's perceptions without taking inordinate risks. Threatening capabilities can be jointly removed, and the spiral of mutual hostility halted, only in an atmosphere of good faith where each state has accepted the benevolent intentions of the other.

The way the initiating state proceeds is extremely important if misinterpretation is to be avoided. It undertakes a unilateral program of significant, cooperative actions with moderate risk, backed by a verbal strategy which makes clear that they are not weakness inviting exploitation. This program may be summarized a follows:77

l. The program is publicly announced in advance as part of a deliberate policy to reduce tensions.

2. Each action is carried out on schedule with an explicit invitation for reciprocation, but without a demand for quid pro quo in advance. In accordance with the public statements, acts of reciprocation are rewarded by an incremental increase in the magnitude of cooperation.

3. Unilateral actions are designed to be unambiguous intent and capable of being verified. They are carried out over time in diverse spheres of action and geographical locations.

4. Unilateral actions are designed to be only of moderate risk to the state's capacity to retaliate, should the target state view them as weakness which can be exploited. To


77 See Osgood. See also deRivera, pp. 421-423, and Deborah Welch Larson, "Crisis Prevention and the Austrian State Treaty," International Organization, Vol 41, No 1 (Winter l987), pp. 31-33.

undermine bad faith images, the acts should be clearly disadvantageous to the initiator in terms of military aggression, yet not cripplingly so.

5. Should the target attempt exploitation, firm resistance s required, but retaliation is kept proportionate in order to prevent escalation.

The dangers of appeasement are avoided by preparedness to retaliate, and by the limited character of initiatives which spread risk across time, place, and issue areas. Persistence is required to convince the target of one's good faith. Even if images are not fully overcome, the target state's policy-makers will feel social and domestic pressures to respond, making possible further cooperation based on a norm of reciprocity.

GRIT is a strategy of learning through reward and punishment, for use when long term mutual interests lie in cooperation. Its basis is that leaders will infer from several moderately costly unilateral initiatives that an adversary sincerely seeks cooperation, and that reciprocation is worth a calculated risk. The GRIT strategy will fail if it is executed ineffectively, or if the target state is genuinely hostile. Why GRIT proved not to end the

Cold War cooperatively will be examined in succeeding chapters.


The structural, bureaucratic, and psychological approaches overlap in supplying

hypotheses for focused comparison in case studies. While furnishing different answers to some questions, they each offer explanations why overcoming the hostile U.S.-Soviet Cold War relationship was so difficult. Finally, the approaches can be combined to yield greater insight (this task will be undertaken in subsequent chapters).
NEOREALISM (Structural Theory):

1. Rooted in the international level, policy is the product of relative technical capabilities, which indirectly provide incentives for action and constrain policy-makers.

2. Assessments of adversaries are based on capabilities for surprise attack, with minimal regard for intentions or domestic politics.

3. Security dilemmas are most effectively dealt with by "tit for tat" bargaining, incremental compromises leading to carefully crafted, verifiable, and detailed formal agreements.

4. Arms negotiations are subordinate to the larger relationship, and are limited to harmonizing or stabilizing policies. This can moderate a hostile relationship but not transform it. The limited basis for compromise is the principal inhibition to cooperation.

5. Non-superpower states are of great concern, but little importance in the relationship.

6. When the weaker side ultimately faces an internal economic crisis, no mechanism is available for international adjustment except internal collapse or external war.


1. Rooted in the domestic level, policy is the product of rationality, but bounded within the framework of procedural processes for decision-making and implementation.

2. Interests are political and at the level of the individual or organization, balancing domestic concerns against international risks. They reflect organizational agendas and cultures.

3. Decision-making focuses on consensus building among institutional leaders.

4. The filtering of intelligence through organizations using SOPs makes it difficult to correctly assess change and opportunity. Changes in assessment are incremental.

5. Policy-makers will have difficulty fostering lasting change without altering organizational structures and missions. This promotes cooperation among international leaders to overcome institutional resistance.

6. Once inspired, organizations can pursue change effectively, and will do so single-mindedly, even if the conditions which justified change alter substantially.

7. The procedural process for international bargaining can reflect the tenets of bureaucratic politics, enabling or hampering the completing of incremental negotiations.


1. Policy is rooted in simplistic beliefs and images, which reflect the recurrence of biases and misperceptions.

2. Images and pre-existing beliefs are reflected by the interpretation given to ambiguous information.

3. Leaders within a state will have more consistent and coherent beliefs than bureaucratic politics suggests.

4. The shared images of leaders within a state will significantly differ from those held by leaders of an adversary. Each assesses the mutual situation differently.

5. Lasting cooperation is dependent on political will spawned by changing the images held by the elite leadership peer group.

6. Images are resistant to change in the absence of persistent, discrepant evidence.

7. Instead of an incremental "tit for tat" altering of capabilities, a state wishing to transform a relationship must act through a deliberate program of significant initiatives which target the perception of intentions.


Perhaps nowhere in life is the disparity greater between exalted public expectations and a dismal track record than in arms control. No are of science, medicine, or even public policy would continue to elicit so much hope after so many years of unsuccessful effort."

--Kenneth Adelman, The Great Universal Embrace


This chapter turns from the general use of theory in international relations to its application in a specific case, conventional European arms control negotiations during the Gorbachev period, from his ascension to General Secretary in March 1985 to the signing of the CFE treaty and CSCE Charter of Paris in November 1990. The goal of this chapter is not only to discern which theoretical approach is most useful--structural, bureaucratic, or psychological--but also to examine how they can be used synergistically, and what the case reveals about behavior beyond that suggested by the proponents of the theories.

This chapter concludes that each of the approaches is a necessary part of a sufficient explanation of the European arms control process and product. Each approach contains causes which are useful in explaining the interaction of the states, the progress and difficulties of reaching agreement, and why these negotiations did not make great progress until 1989. Further, examination of the case suggests a significant value for applying each approach more broadly, especially the bureaucratic one. The structural approach provides for some important conclusions about domestic behavior, and the bureaucratic and

psychological approaches each have important lessons for international interaction. Lastly, the case suggests that political leaders have a greater freedom to act and to manipulate events than the structural and bureaucratic approaches claim. A comprehensive



While superpower nuclear negotiations captured the lion's share of public attention during the Cold War, it was conventional force discussions which offered the greater prize. Conventional forces were seven times as expensive as strategic forces.1 Both sides should have coveted the potential economic savings agreement could bring, in addition to benefits of greater security and political prestige. Surprisingly, these negotiations received relatively little attention and less agreement, until the yen end of the Cold War. Equally

surprising is that comprehensive agreements were achieved in 1990 based on equality between the superpowers and their alliances, just events were proving equality to be fiction. The agreements ratified a context the U.S. and its allies had long challenged.

Conventional European arms control negotiations during the Gorbachev period consisted of three forums, the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction Talks (MBFR), its successor, the Conventional Forces in Europe Talks (CFE), and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The MBFR talks focused on the details of military force structures, and included the 23 states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. They were the most complicated, longest continuous multilateral arms control effort in history.2

In January l989 they were abandoned without a treaty, only a willingness to restart talks as CFE. The CFE talks were more successful, leading to CFE treaty of l990. While the pact was the most impressive and detailed accomplishment in the history of arms control, it also was signed alter events had overtaken it t close the Cold War and make


1 Edward L. Rowny, It Takes One To Tango, (Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1992), p. 202.

2 U.S. Department of State, Security and Arms Control: The Search for a More Stable Peace, (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, l983), p. 37.



its terms irrelevant.3 CSCE talks were broader than MBFR and CFE, including 35

European states (from NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and the non-aligned states of Europe, with the exception of Albania), and discussions organized in three "baskets," interstate behavior including military confidence building measures, economic cooperation, and humanitarian cooperation. During the Gorbachev period, CSCE reached three accords, in Stockholm in September l986, Vienna in January 1989, and in Paris in November l99O.

This history presents several puzzles for theory to explain. First, why did MBFR fail to produce an agreement, and why was it abandoned? Second, why did CFE succeed in reaching a treaty, and why did its pursuit continue after e rents made it both unnecessary and irrelevant? Third, why was CSCE more overtly successful despite the larger and more ambiguous forum? Which approach to arms control is mere effective, MBFR/CFE's structural approach limiting numbers of weapons or CSCE's focus on confidence building and restricting the use of weaponry? Lastly, why did none of these efforts play a central

role in ending the Cold War?


Evaluating the puzzles depends not only on the events of the late 1980s, but also on the history of negotiations which preceded them. A thorough review of this history is therefore necessary.

The desire for comprehensive European arms control negotiations first emerged in February l954, as Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov proposed negotiation of a 5O year treaty of collective security exclusively among European States. He sought to forestall


3 Michael R. Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, At the Highest Levels: The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1993), p. 288.

German involvement in NATO and to isolate the United Sstates.4 This, and a later, more moderate proposal was rejected by the Europeans as an attempt to split NATO. Berlin crises and Soviet repression in Hungary delayed consider lion of discussions until the late 1960s.5 By 1969, and despite Soviet repression in Czechoslovakia, all the major parties wanted negotiations, but for different motives. While treties had already formally settled

borders, Soviet insecurities gave priority to obtaining the broadest possible recognition of the immutability of these post World War H status quo borders, rendering the division of Germany irreversible so that a united, hostile Germany could never again be a threat. Secondarily, the Soviets wanted a framework to control East European contacts with the West. Europeans such as German Chancellor Willy Brandt wanted to defuse political and

military tensions and to expand relations with East European neighbors.

The United States was a reluctant participant, suspicious as the result of early Soviet attempts to split NATO. The U.S. preferred to pursue billateral nuclear force negotiations first. U.S. administrations also sought to avoid domestic ethnic community pressures which would attend any appearance of participation in negotiations which again confirmed the "Yalta" division of Europe. However, in the wake of the Vietnamese war, Congressional concern focused on the continuing economic and military costs of U.S.

forces in Europe. Under pressure from Senator Mike Mansfield's initiatives to mandate unilateral force withdrawals, the U.S. accepted a formal alliance

strategy of seeking force


4 Bernd A. Goetze, Security in Europe: A Crisis of Confidence, (New York: Praeger, l984), p. 28.

5 John Fry, The Helsinki Process: Negotiating Security and Coopeation in Europe, (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, l993), pp. 3-4.

6 John J. Maresca, "Helsinki Accord, l975," in U.S.-Soviet Security Cooperation: Achievements, Failures, Lessons, ed. by Alexander L. George, Philip J. Farley, and Alexander Dallin, (New York: Oxford, l988),

p. 107.



reduction talks. Having conceded to discuss European security, the U.S. held out for Soviet reaffirmation of Western access to Berlin, and for the discussion of weaponry

rather than principles.7

A deal was struck between U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Soviet leaders in September 1972, and talks formally began shortly thereafter in separate forums of CSCE and MBFR. The two sets of negotiation were intended to be "in parallel," although progress in one forum was not to be hostage to progress in the other.8

Four major periods can be broadly distinguished for these negotiations through l99O. The detente period lasted roughly from 1972 through 1976, with slow incremental progress taking place, fostered primarily by the Soviets and West Europeans. The second period began with President Jimmy Carter's focus on human rights and continued with the rhetoric and confrontation of President Ronald Reagan's first term. This period was one of friction, with a general absence of progress. Reagan's second term constitutes a third period, coincidental with Gorbachev's ascent to power. In the final period of the Bush

Administration, increasing Soviet desperation was matched by increasingly vigorous U.S. efforts and generally eager Europeans.

CSCE proved to be a qualified success during the first period. Its high point was the signing of the Final Act in Helsinki on August 1st, l975. The negotiating process took place as envisioned in its preparatory discussions. An opening meeting of foreign ministers took place in Helsinki in June l973, followed by two yea s detailed negotiations in Geneva on the basis of consensus within a complex structure of committees and subcommittees.


7 Coit D. Blacker, "The MBFR Experience," in US-Soviet Security Cooperation, pp. 124-126.

8 Blacker p. 126.


The Helsinki Final Act was not a treaty under international law, but rather two executive resolutions of the signatories on sets of principles for the behavior of states toward each other and toward their own citizens. The first resolution committed the signatories to unilaterally, bilaterally, and multilaterally implementing the principles. The eclectic set of provisions spanned all three baskets. The first basket on relations between states included affirmation of the sovereign equality of the states, the inadmissibility of using force to settle disputes, the inviolability of frontiers, non-intervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights, self-determination, and commitment to international law. This first basket also included the only binding provision if the Final Act, the mandatory, 2l day advance notification of major military maneuvers involving over 25,000 troops. It also had voluntary provisions for prior notification of movements and the exchange of observers. The second resolution committed the states to a continuous multilateral process of exchanging views in follow-up conferences.9

The Helsinki Accord had something each party warned, without binding them under international law. The West gave the Soviets reaffirmation of the post World War II territorial settlement, but in a hedged form that had even less legal implication than previous treaties and was meaningful only in a political sense. The price East and West Europeans demanded for this modest concession was a Soviet commitment to respect human rights in the future and to permit wider relations between East and West Europeans. That the provisions were not binding reflected the unwillingness of the parties


9 Fry, p. 13, and the Helsinki Final Act as reprinted in Fry, pp. 175-268.

to formally accept the others' desires, and the lack of trust by Western countries that the Soviets would carry out any obligations of principle.

On balance the accord was more favorable to the West's concerns, as it conceded little and gained Soviet affirmation of much in return. This is ironic, as the U.S. was the most ambivalent participant. Senator "Scoop" Jackson, Russian emigre Alexander Solzhenitsyn, California Governor Ronald Reagan, and the Wall Street Journal all criticized Kissinger and President Ford for being entangled in a Yalta-like sellout of Eastern Europe. Jimmy Carter would later use the issue against Ford in the 1976 campaign.10 This domestic political rhetoric had little basis in reality, but poisoned the well for CSCE in the years to follow. Instead of ratifying and facilitating the advancement

of detente, the Helsinki Final Act was its conclusion.

In fact, the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany colluded, presenting the Soviets a final proposal on a take it or leave it basis, linking human rights to the boundary issue. The Soviets were furious, but met the Western conditions because Leonid Brezhnev badly wanted an agreement in time for the 25th Communist Party Congress in 1976. As the diplomatic demandeur, Brezhnev had to make the greater concessions.11 In two prior congresses Brezhnev staked his personal prestige as a peacemaker to the European security campaign. His personal commitment gagged any lower level critics. To express doubts meant to challenge the wisdom of the leader.12 As Henry Kissinger would later


This monster diplomatic process grew out of Moscow's deep-rooted sense

of insecurity and unquenchable thirst for legitimacy. Even as it was building


10 Walter Isaacson, Kissinger: A Biography, (New York: Simon and Schuster, l992), pp. 660-665.

11 Maresca, pp. 108-110.

12 Arkady N. Shevchenko, Breaking with Moscow, (New York: Knopf, l985), pp. 264-265.

an enormous military establishment and holding d own a score of nations,

the Kremlin acted as if it were in constant need of reassurance.... The exact benefit envisaged by Moscow was not self-evident. The insistence with which the cradle of ideological revolution was seeking confirmation of its legitimacy from the proclaimed victims of historical inevitability was a symptom of extraordinary self-doubt....Moscow, as it turned out, had much more to lose than the democracies from a conference which ended up giving all the participants, including the United States, a voice in the political arrangements of Eastern Europe....The borders of the countries of Eastern Europe had already been recognized by peace treaties... We employed our strategy of linkage which was summed Tied up by State Department Counselor Helmut Sonnenfeldt as boastfully as it was accurate: "We sold it for the German-Soviet treaty, we sold it for the Berlin agreement, and we sold it again for the opening of the MBFR.".American influence had helped to confine the recognition of border to an obligation not to change them by force, which was a mere duplication of the UN Charter....hardly a Soviet gain...vitiated by a statement of principle..."that their frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement."...The European Security Conference thus came to play an important dual role: in its planning stages, it moderated Soviet conduct in Europe and, afterward, it accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Empire.13

MBFR talks were less successful during this detente period, and did not reach any formal agreements. The NATO Europeans wanted to discuss troop reductions without the participation of the neutral and non-aligned states, in the perception that this would lead to a quicker deal.14 Discussions began in January l973 and quickly deadlocked over basic issues, including the name of the talks and their scope.15 The talks continued, but progress stalled over the initial proposals, the sides unable to agree on the number of stationed

troops and whether to cut equally or to reduce asymmetries.16


13 Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy, (New York: Simon and Schuster, l994), pp. 758-760.

14 John G. Keliher, The Negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions: The Search for Arms Control in Central Europe, (New York: Pergamon, 1980), p. 29.

15 Coit D. Blacker and Gloria Duffy, International Arms Control: Issues and Agreements, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984), pp. 299-300.

16 Keliher pp. 52-60.

While the dialogue prompted better understanding of each opponent's views, neither superpower pushed for a conclusion. The U.S. wanted the benefits of continued talking more than potential gains from a treaty. The talks forestalled the Congressional pressures for troop cuts.17 Several U.S. administrations would reject unilateral cuts by claiming to reserve them for negotiation.18 The Soviets did not push the talks, as their goal of

legitimizing the status quo was already being discussed in the CSCE forum.19 Talks not reaching a treaty provided propaganda advantages to the Soviets, aided their relations with East and West European states, and defused Western efforts to match Soviet force deployments.20 Lasser allies on both sides were satisfied by the multilateral talks, as they provided a political benefit of appearing to negotiate, and the practical benefit of participation. Stability in forces accrued to both sides without the need for a formal agreement, as conventional force levels effectively froze during the talks.

The detente period's conclusion followed the Helsinki Accord. On December l6, 1975, the U.S. tabled the "Western Option III," which offered to withdraw 29,000 U.S. troops and 1,000 tactical nuclear weapons in return for Soviet withdrawal of 68,000 troops, 1,700 tanks, and 1,000 warheads. In February 1976 the Soviets responded by pocketing the concession to place nuclear weapons under negotiation, but still insisted on equal percentage force reductions instead of asymmetric outs toward parity between the

17 Richard Burt, ed., Arms Control and Defense Postures in the 1980s, (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1982), p. 53.

18 Lawrence S. Hagan, ed. The Crisis in Western Security, (New York: St. Martin's Press, l982), p. 50.

19 John Spanier American Foreign Policy Since World War II, 7th ed., (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977), pp. 297-298.

20 William E. Griffith, The Superpowers and Regional Tensions: The USSR, the United States, and Europe, (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, l983), p. 45.

21 Leon Sloss and M. Scott Davis, eds., A Game for High Stakes: Lessons Learned in Negotiating with the Soviet Union, (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1986), pp. 100-101.

alliances. The differences of the parties narrowed, but neither side would compromise from its initial negotiating principle.22

During the second major period of the CSCE and MBFR negotiations, from l977 through l984, political desires for agreement diminished in both the USSR and U.S. as detente cooled toward confrontation. While Europeans still wanted progress, the lack of interest by the superpowers forestalled any success, demonstrating how much this multilateral relationship was subordinate to the U.S.-Soviet bilateral one.

This change was best reflected in the CSCE sessions which attempted to follow-up the Helsinki Accord. The Soviets were the first to lose interest as KGB and Central Committee participants in the discussions cautiously voiced skepticism. Regrets led the Soviet leadership to make a scapegoat of their negotiator, Anatoly Kovalev, a Gromyko protege and Deputy Foreign Minister, despite his faithful carrying out of instructions. Kovalev was denied membership in the Central Committee. A rival, Yuli Vorontsov, would later be given this place for pressing Moscow's hard-line attack on the Helsinki

Accord's human rights provisions at the 1977 follow-up conference in Belgrade.23 Gromyko himself had been so absorbed by the negotiations is leading to Helsinki that Kissinger called him "the world's greatest expert on the CSCE."24 However Gromyko would later not even mention Kovalev in his memoirs, and acknowledged no role in the negotiation of CSCE.25

22 Summarized from Keliher, p. 99, 73.

23 Shevchenko, pp. 264-267.

24 Maresca, 109.

25 Andrei Gromyko, Memoirs, (New York: Doubleday, l989), pp. 186-187.


Mindful of the domestic opposition Ford faced, the Carter and Reagan

administrations would deliberately seek to build public support for CSCE follow-up meetings in Belgrade (1977-78) and Madrid (1980-83).26 The Belgrade sessions proved to be a test of wills, reflecting Soviet disillusion and President Carter's according human rights a priority higher than detente. The spontaneous emergence of self-appointed Helsinki monitoring groups in Eastern Europe and the USSR (including Vaclav Havel and Yuri Orlov) provoked more Soviet irritation. Real agreement at Belgrade was impossible, and the conference ended when the Soviets made it bluntly clear they would never agree

to any mention of human rights in the concluding document. The "goal-less draw" ended without any document and without adopting any of the 90 proposals submitted from East and West.27

The Madrid conference began in a gloomy atmosphere, in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the arrest of most Helsinki monitoring group members throughout the East, contentions that the Soviets had not complied with the Helsinki Accord's exercise notification requirements, and European disillusion with the Carter Administration which had just lost its bid for reelection. Despite this, and extensive conflicts to come over Jewish emigration, Soviet gas sales to Western Europe, and the imposition of martial law in Poland, the Madrid conference did produce a modest final document calling for further discussion of military confidence and security building

measures to be held in Stockholm, beginning in l984. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was


26 Maresca, p. 112.

27 Summarized from Fry, pp. 23-4l.

sour and only got worse afterwards. Just a few days after the session's conclusion, the

Soviet military downed a Korean commercial airline, killing 269.28

MBFR discussions were similarly difficult during this second period. During the Carter Administration, the talks initially took a secondary priority to strategic SALT II discussions. The Carter Administration hoped progress could be made in 1979, once the SALT II accord was signed. To break the deadlock over numbers, the Carter Administration tried to take a fresh start, focusing on coincidence building measures (CBMs). Under pressure from the West Europeans, Option III was withdrawn, along with any further willingness to discuss nuclear weapons in MBFR. The Warsaw Pact abandoned strict equality while retaining an emphasis on symmetry. However, the Warsaw Pact's willingness to accept in principle NATO's desire for common manpower ceilings was conditional on Western acceptance of Pact calculations as of relative forces. The difference in figures represented over 200,000 soldiers, a the Warsaw Pact claimed that NATO outnumbered it by l2,000.29

The Afghanistan invasion and the collapse of SALT II ratification helped to further derail MBFR.30 Frustrations were high on both sides, even prior to the invasion. In March l979, the U.S. and Soviets held some secret bilateral discussions to bypass or jump-start MBFR, but without success.31 Eventually the CBM discissions were moved to CSCE, which both sides perceived as more effective. With NATO accusing the Warsaw Pact of


28 Summarized from Fry, pp. 5l-77.

29 Blacker pp. l29-l3l.

3O Stephen J. Flanagan, "SALT II," in Albert Carnesdale and Richard N. Haass, eds., Superpower Arms Control: Setting the Record Straight, (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1987), p. 110.

31 Foreign Affairs Chronology, 1978-1989, (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1990), p. 36.

blatant dishonesty in its force data and insisting on verification, deadlock resulted.32 The years of rhetoric trapped each side in their positions. The West could not back down, and the Soviets could not escape their position without publicly acknowledging falsification.33 As President Reagan began his second term, and as Gorbichev became General Secretary, the legacy of deadlock in CSCE and MBFR left little reason to assume that rapid progress could be obtained in either forum.


On the surface, Neorealist theory appeared to offer a robust explanation of the conventional military standoff in Europe in 1985. Neorealism asserts the importance of bilateral superpower competition while downplaying arms control and the role of allies. These non-superpower states are of great concern, but little importance in moderating or worsening the larger relationship. "Tit for tat," incremental bargaining is expected, but more likely to lead to continuing stalemate around the status quo than the detailed agreement which the theory suggests is the only kind which is acceptable. Technical capabilities define the military balance, reinforced by worst case analysis, defeating the

optimistic hopes of statesmen to change affairs by agreement.

However, an examination of the Gorbachev years is less susceptible to these surface explanations. During Reagan's second term the overall relationship lessened in hostility, while the perceived size and capability of forces in Europe continued little changed. While continuities are observed, a change in rhetoric occurred by the end of l986, with each side


32 Jeffrey Record, Force Reductions in Europe: Starting Over, (Cambridge, MA: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, October 1980), p. 52.

33 William R. Bowman, Limiting Conventional Forces in Europe, (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, 1985), p. 14.


now verbally engaging each other and seeking meaningful progress in arms control. While progress was largely elusive, fundamental change was underway by l989, even though both sides accorded greater priority to nuclear weapons negotiations. In December 1988 General Secretary Gorbachev announced the unilateral withdrawal and drawdown of 500,000 soldiers and 10,000 tanks from Europe. In January l989 the sides concluded another CSCE agreement in Vienna, and ended the MBFI talks in favor of CFE negotiations which began in March l989. Instead of being suspended pending events, CSCE and CFE negotiations accelerated during 1989 and 1990, concluding with the Paris agreements. This section attempts to explain these events using the structural, Neorealist


Neorealism focus on relative capabilities as causes, including geography, industrial capability, force structures, and military technologies. The explanation Neorealism offers for a change in the willingness to negotiate rests on changes in these relative capabilities, and their implications for a security dilemma which might be ameliorated by mutual agreement. Arms control stems from the notion that limiting armaments increases stability, positively correlating with a reduced risk of war, either from surprise attack or a period of escalation in which one side can mobilize significantly faster than the other.34

That a security dilemma existed is strongly suggested from the disposition of forces and the beliefs each side professed about them. Throughout the late 1980s NATO and the United States professed that geography, technology, and force levels put them at risk of

34 The importance of stability as the primary arms control objective is discussed in Thomas Schelling and Morton Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control, (Washington, D.C.: Pergamon, 1985), pp. 8-33, and Hedley Bull, The Control of the Arms Race: Disarmament and Arms Control in the Missile Age, (New York:

Praeger, l96l), pp. 3-29. The dominance of this concern in European conventional arms control discussions is detailed in Blacker and Duffy, pp. 294-305.

surprise attack or disadvantageous mobilization. For example, in a NATO l984 bulletin, it is noted that "standing Warsaw Pact forces are more numerous. This advantage...could increase at least for some considerable time as both sides reinforce."35 Nor did the future appear bright. "Present trends indicate that the Warsaw Pact will continue to out-produce NATO in major military systems... NATO nations until recently enjoyed clear leadership in most areas of technology though, as noted above, this lead is being eroded." In summary,

the NATO Secretary General noted, "the future gives less room for comfort. Disparities in a number of critical areas exist."36 Such an assessment co- ntinued. From the 1988 Secretary of Defense's Annual Report to the Congress:


America's vital interests are threatened by an ever-growing Soviet military threat. Moscow is maintaining its unprecedented place of military expansion, and continues using its military might to support its ruthless goals. In the past decade, the Soviet Union has outstripped us in almost every meaningful category of military production.37


Even as late as January 1990, while conceding the visible flaws of the Soviet system, "We must expect the Soviets will continue to modernize their forces and maintain aggressive research and development programs....Now is not the time to abandon the fundamental approach that has taken us this far."38 The concern for capabilities, rather than intentions, is also illustrated in statements as late as September 1990, after the effective disintegration of the Warsaw Pact, "intentions are not enough to support dramatic changes in our own


35 "NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Force Comparisons," (Brussels: NATO Information Service, l984), p. 6.

36 "NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Force Comparisons," pp. 47-48, foreword.

37 Report of the Secretary of Defense, Casper W. Weinburger, to the Congress on the FY 1988/FYl989 Budget and FY 1988-92 Defense Programs, (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, January l2, l987), p. 4.

38 Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, Annual Report of the Secretary of Defense to the President and the Congress, (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, January l99O), pp. iv-v. Similar statements can be found in any of the Secretary of Defense posture statements during this period, or those of the Joint Staff.



level of preparedness. We must see fundamental and enduring changes in both the

capabilities and character of Soviet military power."39

As a Soviet negotiator once noted, each side tends to look at the other's forces through the small end of a telescope and at its own through the large end.40 The Soviets also viewed their geography as a vulnerability, lacking defensible borders. Further, the Soviets recognized their lag in military technology and quality of forces, feeling compelled to compensate with superior numbers.41 The Soviet official position in l989 argued that Warsaw Pact and NATO forces were "an approximate parity."42 Parity itself is not necessarily a source for comfort in a security dilemma. The Soviets recognized this, that

operational details and uncertainties mattered.43 Thus for neither side had a firm assurance of security.

Neorealism well discusses the phenomenon of the security dilemma. It also can explain why the statesmen in this case sought stability through arms control. Leaders on each side believed that an arms race would make its side worse off, or both mutually less secure. Gorbachev openly feared the disastrous potential nuclear or conventional war, as a result of the weaponry." Reagan's views incorporated a dualism that was


39 Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, in U.S. Department of Defence, Soviet Military Power. 199O, (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, September 1990), p. 5.

40 Gerard Smith, Doubletalk: The Story of the First Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, (New York: Doubleday & Company, l98O), p. 87f, cited in Glenn T. Seaborg, Lemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years, (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, l987), p. 454.

41 Seweryn Bialer and Michael Mandelbaum, The Global Rivals, (New York: Vintage, l988), pp. l77- l78.

42 Oleg Amirov and Nikolai Kishilov, "Relative Estimates of WTO and NATO Forces in Europe," USSR Academy of Sciences, Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Disarmament and Security: 1988-89 Yearbook, (Moscow: Novosti, 1989), p. 253, citing official Soviet sources.

43 Fritz W. Ermarth, "Contrasts in American and Soviet Strategic Thought," in Derek Leebaert, Soviet Military Thinking, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985), p. 65.

44 Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, (London: Collins, 1987), pp. 195-196,

inconsistent to others: he was convinced the Soviets were a hostile threat but


based on ignorance rather than ill will. Reagan was therefore deadly serious about both arms buildup and pacifism.45 Thus, Neorealism can explain why there was little immediate success, especially for MBFR. What it cannot explain is why the effort began at the time it did, or why CFE succeeded after 1989. Changes in Neorealism causes occurs gradually and incrementally in peacetime, leaving little explanation for the change in a states's actions in the absence of force structure changes. Nor does Neorealism address the obviously important role these individuals played in the strategic relationship.

Gorbachev's impact on Soviet policy for conventional European forces was evident by mid-1986. As a result of the CSFE Madrid Conference, meetings of a

Conference on Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs) and Disarmament in Europe (CDE) began in Stockholm, Sweden, in January 1984, as a subject of CSCE. The negotiations rapidly stalled. Within six months of Gorbachev's ascent to power, Soviet delegates became more flexible and real progress was made. In a joint communique in November 1985, Reagan and Gorbachev's together called for early and successful completion of the conference. The Stockholm Document was approved by all parties in September 1986. It was the first arms control agreement since the failed SALT II of 1979. It consisted of CSBMs requiring exercise notification, and providing for the first mandatory on-site inspections.46 The modest provision had no structural impact or relation to Neorealist theory.


45 Describe in detail by in Kissinger, Diplomacy, pp. 762-781.

46 Summarized from Fry, pp. 79-91.


In April l986 Gorbachev addressed force reductions, with a vague proposal to expand talks beyond the MBFR geographical mandate. In June 1986 Gorbachev called for mutual immediate and long run troop cuts. In the summed of l987 formal mandate discussions began to create a new negotiating forum, eve though MBFR was still in session. These discussions would last 20 months, finally approving the CFE Mandate on February 9, l989 (and terminating MBFR a week earlier).47

Neorealism does not well explain how conventional and nuclear forces interrelated in arms control. Throughout the period, both sides had the capability to escalate any conflict to theater or strategic nuclear weaponry. Given such potential to destroy attacking offensive concentrations, the conventional balance should have been more stable at any level. This should have facilitated conventional arms control, and each side should have been less concerned than was the case. Neorealism does not explain why the sides made so

little effort to bilaterally boost MBFR progress instead of replacing it, and why they aggressively pursued nuclear force reductions while letting conventional force discussions linger. Both sides made a major effort to conclude a START treaty in l986, and did conclude the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty (INF) in December 1987.

Neorealism also does not explain why changes in force modernization were not reflected in by changes in force levels or technical assessments of relative capabilities. Change in relative military capability had taken place during the early 1980s, especially in relative quality, as the U.S. replaced

M-60 tanks and other equipment with a new generation of weaponry. The U.S. also invested in more killed personnel and a more


47 Colonel Ralph A. Hallenback and Daniel E. Shaver, et. al, On Disarmament: The Role of Conventional Arms Control in National Security Strategy, (Carlisle Barracks PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1990), pp. 7-9


agile, aggressive doctrine. Soviet forces continued modernization, but with a quality slipping well below that of U.S. forces. Despite signs of this gap in the Bakaa Valley in l982 and in Afghanistan, neither side correctly evaluated how the magnitude of the change. Assessments were quite inaccurate, especially on the American side, reflecting more than just the problems inherent in the "fog" of planning.

Examination of the late Reagan and Bush periods a o suggests some problems with Neorealist theory. Its focuses on force structures offers little guidance to the further progress of CSCE efforts, other than to downplay their importance. Indeed, Neorealism suggests that CBMs may worsen stability, since a few inspectors are unlikely to provide much intelligence in a crisis, and since they might cause political leaders to hesitate longer in a crisis, when they are not being overtly violated.48 The theory is challenged at least by

the beliefs of the sides in their acceptance of these measures and their obvious linkage with force reduction talks in the Vienna Concluding Document of January 1989, in the Paris Charter of 1990, and in some other initiative during this period.

While the 1986 Stockholm Document was regarded as a positive step, President Reagan was disappointed that it was not linked to any progress on human rights. This was his principal demand of the next CSCE effort, to take place in Vienna.49 With the improving compliance of the Soviets with CSBMs, the military security review was much less controversial than human rights. The principal military issue was the designing of the GFE forum, in which neutral and non-aligned nations no wanted to participate. NATO and the Warsaw Pact did not want their participation, in order to hasten the project.

48 Prior notification and limits on the size of maneuvers inhibits defensive mobilization. See Richard Betts, Surprise Attack: Lessons for Defense Planning, (Washington, D.C Brookings, l982), pp. 303-305.

49 pp. 90-9l.

NATO states also wanted the discussions to lead to a formal treaty, rather than the informal agreements which were provided for under CSCE. The views of NATO won out, and preparations for a separate CFE continued. As a concession to the neutral and non aligned group, the CFE discussions would be informally inked to continuing sessions of CSCE in Vienna, and CSCE would take up consideration of building upon the Stockholm CSBMs.50 Secretary of State George Shultz signed the Vienna Concluding Document on the last fill day of the Reagan presidency, January l9, l989.

Gorbachev's December l988 U.N. speech announcing major unilateral force cuts presented the Bush Administration with a challenge. Formal CSCE and CFE discussions were not scheduled until March l989, and the offer begged a response. Neorealism's explanation for this interaction is ambiguous. The theory.51 However does not well explain Gorbachev's unilateral cuts, except as an economy measure, due to the general drift toward economic crisis suggested by the repair to Neorealist theory. However, Gorbachev's speech was clearly aimed at trying to foster ,progress in arms control, not just to save money. theory would suggest a general futility for such concessions, since it

could be simply pocketed. Indeed, one U.S. official responded, "Why buy what history is giving you for free?" 53

Work on the CFE treaty continued throughout 1989 and 1990, relatively immune from the collapse of East European regimes and the Warsaw Pact during this time. Gorbachev cut defense spending 10% and had accurate force statistics published for the


50 Fry, pp. ll8-ll9, l28-l32.

51 See chapter 2.

52 Gorbachev Pledges Major Troop Cutback, Then Ends Trip, Citing Vast Soviet Quake," The New York Times, (December 8, l988), p. Al.

53 Unnamed U.S. official cited in Isaacson, p. 728.


first time. At the opening of CFE, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze proposed that the treaty be based on equal hardware ceilings, with an additional cut of 25% in each side's manpower. The Bush Administration dithered and delayed over how to respond, ultimately proposing its own 20% troop cut in May 1989 but only in the context of CFE was continuous in Vienna among the nations to resolve the many details of definition, and to arbitrate the treaty's implication for the minor states. The senior U.S. and Soviet leaders remained engaged, rapidly disposing of the larger issues that emerged between them on total force levels.55 No agreement could be reached on how to verify the levels of personnel before the scheduled signing date. As a result, the personnel issue was delayed into the future. Neither prior experience, nor Neorealist

theory suggest the rapid resolution of so many issue and divergent interests, except to note the capabilities of two superpowers to encourage other states to acquiesce.

The CFE treaty consists of 110 pages of provisions controlling five categories of weapons believed to offer offensive capability: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, combat aircraft, and attack helicopters. The treaty set alliance-wide limits, limits by concentric zones outward from Central Europe, and national limits. It established a permanent system of on-site verification and military data exchange. Limits on foreign stationed troops were dropped after Moscow agreed to the withdrawal of all forces from

Germany, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia in bilateral agreements. Force reductions were very lopsided, with NATO due to reduce l2% of its tank and the Soviets and East


54 For details of the discussions leading to this discussion see Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 37-8O. The Bush proposal was not truly unilateral, as it called for lowering CFE treaty force levels, ultimately requiring the Soviets to match the cut. Neorealism can explain Bush's action, but not psychological aspects surrounding its consideration.

55 Details of the senior leaders' involvement are described in Beschloss and Talbott.


Europeans to make across the board cuts above 20% in all categories except


The CFE treaty's provisions do not meet with the expectations of Neorealist theory for equivalent and incremental force reductions through arms control. At the same time, the treaty was less revolutionary than it may appear. Most of the cuts would have been made in the absence of the treaty, due to the Soviet unilateral initiatives, economic hardships, and withdrawal from Eastern European states. The formulas and locations of forces provided for by the treaty were based on notions of the security dilemma and offensive capabilities. An analysis of the provisions found that CFE would significantly

enhanced stability, as defined by Neorealism.57 However the treaty made even less strategic or theoretical sense when it was finally signed. The Warsaw Pact had simply died. Germany was reunited a month before the treaty's signature, five other countries had changed their name, and Soviet forces were leaving all of he places they had negotiated hard to preserve their access to.58

The CSCE effort required less high level effort by the national leaders in reaching a conclusion in time for the Paris meeting in November 1990. Its portion on CSBMs is known as the Vienna Document.59 Its provisions provide for annual information exchange on all forces in Europe, the establishment of a Conflict Prevention Center, additional notification and inspection measures, and the promotion of military contacts.60

56 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, (November 19 1990), and "Weapons in Europe After CFE," Background Paper, (Washington, D.C.: The Arms Control Association, February l99l).

57 Joshua M. Epstein, Conventional Force Reductions. A Dynamic Assessment, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1990), pp. 79-84.

58 Beschloss and Talbott, p. 289.

59 Not to be confused with the Vienna Concluding Document, signed in January l989.

60 Vienna Document: Negotiations on Confidence- And Security-Building Measures, (November 1990).

Also signed within the CSCE framework was the Charter of Paris, covering all three "baskets" of issues, providing for a formal CSCE secretariat and urged completion of chemical weapons and open skies agreements.61

Neorealism presumed the continuing equivalence of the superpowers, which was clearly not the case by late 1989. The progress in the negotiations was a consequence of Soviet weakness, and not its cause. War with the West was not a threat at any time. The theory has little to offer why the West negotiated, except to suggest complete Soviet acquiescence to Western terms. This is not entirely correct either, as the Soviets haggled over many provisions.

In summary, the hypotheses of Neorealist theory were largely confirmed in the case, with the exceptions of CSCE's role and Soviet behavior beginning in December l988. However, Neorealism is able to plausibly explain only a few of the puzzles posed in the case. The theory effectively explains why MBFR stalemated, but not why it was abandoned or CFE succeeded. It explains why CSCE w& more overtly successful in being negotiated despite its forum--because the issues involved were of lesser consequence, and their implementation largely voluntary--but also yields CSCE's operational arms control little value. Neorealism suggests why arms control was consequence, not cause at the end

of the Cold War, but offers little guidance how it may be used to more effect, or how it may be pursued to the larger end of transforming a hostile relationship. The case also raises a number of other difficulties which have been discussed. To get a more complete


6l The Charter of Paris, (November 2l, l99O), in Fry, pp. 359-383.

view of the process and better insights into the puzzles, the cases must also be examined using the bureaucratic politics and organizational process approach.


The bureaucratic approach provides another necessary cause needed to understand the puzzles in the case. The hypotheses of the approach are generally confirmed by the case, with two disparities. First, bureaucratic or organizational behavior is not confined to the domestic level. Secondly, the impact of bureaucracies and organizations is positive as well as negative. Since leaders can alter the process, leaders can manipulate outcomes

more effectively than the approach presumes, especially if they conspire together to do so. Combining the bureaucratic and structural approaches provides a generally clear explanation of the arms control process, but one that is still insufficient to explain leaders' choices among different strategies to pursue it.

The bureaucratic approach postulates that a state's strategies are bounded within a framework of procedural processes that systematically bias decision-making and policy implementation in the face of uncertainty. Domestic institutions and senior "players" are semi-autonomous and sometimes pursue interests narrower than the state. Their organizational culture and mission alters their assessments of situations ("Where you stand depends on where you sit."). Effective action depends on a consensus among senior leaders and the fostering of organizational change. These hypotheses of the bureaucratic

approach are confirmed by U.S. behavior within the case (As noted in chapter l, the evidence is not yet available to evaluate the application of the approach to Soviet behavior in the case.)

The negative powers of politics and process to frustrate initiative by constraint, delay, and attrition are evident in MBFR. No matter how much relative force structures provided cause for bargaining and leaders want to do so, hey would still have to negotiate terms of a sophisticated agreement. Thus, whether procedures for bargaining enable negotiation is a matter of policy concern. As Gorbachev became General Secretary and Reagan began his second term, MBFR talks were nearing the end of their usefulness as a forum for negotiation because of the complex procedures developed for them at both the

U.S. domestic and international levels.

The first problem was the mandate itself as it was independent of CSCE, and specifically organized to reach a formal comprehensive treaty. Unlike a commercial transaction enforceable under domestic law, arms control treaties must provide for mutual gains, as the parties can only enforce them with mutual cooperation, and can unilaterally repudiate them.62 In limiting MBFR to non-nuclear conventional forces stationed in Central Europe, the Warsaw Pact's numerical advantages were not balanced by asymmetries in favor of the West which would enable bargains. MBFR's mandate applied only to forces in the Benelux countries, East and West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia, collectively known as the NATO Guidelines Area. NATO had no way to

address the rapid reinforcement capability of the USSR t. this area. Force reductions within this area alone were not likely to improve NATO's security. to exclude theater nuclear forces complicated negotiation of dual-use equipment and left unaddressed


62 Sloss and David, p. 56.

63 Hallenback and Shaver, p. 5.

the dramatic changes of these forces over time as the USSR deployed INF weapons which NATO then matched with Pershing II and cruise missiles.

In segregating lesser measures such as confidence building to CSCE, opportunities for incremental agreements were lessened.64 In separating MBFR from the "baskets" of CSCE, linking security concessions to other concerns such as human rights was not readily available. Such an interdependent linkage was essential to the conclusion of the Helsinki Accord, and was a demand by President Reagan on grounds of principle for advancing relations beyond the Stockholm Document. Linkage of concessions across forums is difficult, as different sets of talks with different countries and concerns rarely

reach conclusion simultaneously. Further, as a senior negotiator observed, superpower governments can only sustain top level interest and supervision to one negotiation at a time.65 These procedural reasons explain some of CSCE' greater success as a forum. CSCE was more inclusive, less ambitious, and more incremental.

The multilateral format of MBFR made its negotiation in more complex than bilateral arrangements such as SALT, lNF, or START. However, as CSCE and a number of other agreements demonstrate, multilateralism is not an obstacle which cannot be overcome. Because of the majority of the forces in Central Europe did not belong to the superpowers themselves, including the allies of each alliance was essential.66 However, what did


64 Edward C. Luck, ed., Arms Control: The Multilateral Alternative (New York: New York University Press, l983), p. 80.

65 Jonathan Dean, "East-West Arms Negotiations: The Multilateral Dimension," in Sloss and David, p. 9l.

66 In the case of the West European Allies, they argued that they provided 95% of the divisions, 90% of the manpower, 90% of the artillery, and 80% of the tanks and combat aircraft. See, Eurogroup, "Western Defense: The European Role in NATO," (Brussels, May l988), pp. 10-11. The Warsaw Pact was asymmetric in favor of the Soviets.

complicate MBFR were the layers of review for proposals, a widespread veto authority on initiatives, and the rigid format for East-West dialogue. These factors directly added to the difficulty of introducing new initiatives and bargaining.

Within the U.S., a new concept or proposal would have to endure three levels of review: agency approval, the interagency coordinating group, and National Security Council approval. Any of the following could effectively veto or sabotage a concept reaching the national level: National Security Council Staff; Department of State, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Department of Defense , Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Central Intelligence Agency.67

At the international level, the combination of countries and alliance officials presented its own layer of bureaucratic politics and organization. Before discussion in MBFR, proposals had to survive the gauntlet of U.S.-British-German trilateral discussions, the North Atlantic Council, the NATO Special Political Committee, Supreme Allied Powers Headquarters (SHAPE), the MBFR Working Group, the NATO Military Committee, and the NATO Ad Hoc Group. Only after all of these reviews were completed would the MBFR forum itself be engaged, with its own three levels: preview to the Soviets, and presentation in both formal and informal negotiating sessions.68 Numerous officials in each of the NATO countries had veto power over any proposal. Over 300 officials reviewed each negotiating position. About fifty had to approve every word

spoken to East bloc negotiators in plenary and informal sessions in Vienna.69 The Warsaw Pact's negotiating process was even less flexible than NATO's.


67 Dean in Sloss, pp. 88-89.

68 Dean in Sloss, p. 96.

69 Dean in Sloss, pp. 95-96.

Furthermore, the rigid format of the MBFR meetings impeded free exchange. Each delegate had equal right to speak and negotiate. With the exception of exploratory efforts in the Carter Administration, there was no back-channel for freer discussion by the delegates. Historically, the success of most negotiations depends on such back-channel. Even the bilateral SALT I and SALT II accords required it.70 The institutionalized process of MBFR provided no latitude for negotiators to explore ethers' proposals by further discussion. The layers were so thick that one chief U.S. negotiator concluded that both the

U.S. and Soviet governments left their negotiators poorly informed on policy changes affecting the negotiations.71

These arrangements did serve important goals too, to preserve alliance cohesion, to fully staff proposals, and to eliminate dissent, but no other multilateral negotiation was run in a similarly rigid manner.72 The days stretched into years, even for a single proposal. The delays subjected the process to further outside turbulence as governments and leaders changed, disrupting continuity, and random events occurred. The United States had six

different delegation heads in the first l2 years; the Soviet had three. Each change of administration provoked wholesale turnover of key people involved in MBFR.

In the presence of uncertainty, individuals or institutions have a degree of choice in their assessments or policy preferences. A complicated set of force structures and the closed nature of the Warsaw Pact insured a high level of uncertainty. As the earlier examples from Defense Annual Reports illustrates, error could be expected on the side of


70 examples, see John Newhouse, Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT, (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, l973), pp. 2l4-2l7, and Strobe Talbott, Endgame, (New York: Harper and Row, l9S6), pp. 275-277.

7l Dean in Sloss, pp. 88-90

72 Dean in Sloss, pp. 99-l0l.

worst case analysis. The hindsight of the post-Cold War includes clear evidence of this bias in assessing the quality of Soviet forces as well.73 In hindsight, the NATO Supreme Commander acknowledged this problem, and noted how us position compelled this analysis in the absence of facts.74 This also appears to have affected the Soviets. While the principle of superpower parity was ultimately accepted by both sides, the Soviets never accepted the application of this to the Warsaw Pact as whole, suggesting some concern

about alliance reliability.

The bureaucratic approach hypothesizes that arms control, like all policy, is highly personal and political. This can be illustrated by the course of arms control immediately following Gorbachev's l988 unilateral reductions speech George Bush and James Baker shared an instinctive caution as they took over U.S. foreign policy, and therefore sought a policy review, citing Kennedy and Carter as examples of presidents who rushed too quickly into ill-considered comprehensive arms control plans.76 James Baker was also seeking to consolidate personal control over arms control policy-making. In doing so, he deftly, but firmly shoved aside others by intentionally skewering their proposals by petty

means, public and private, for a political purpose.77

73 For examples and discussion see Stephen White, "Gorbachev and the West," in Daniel N. Nelson and Roger B. Anderson, Soviet-American Relations: Understanding Differences, Avoiding Conflicts, (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Research Books, l988), pp. l34-l36. This problem was well understood even prior to the end of the Cold War and applied to both sides.

74 Personal interview, author with GEN (ret.) Jack Galvin, USA, West Point, New York, l3 May l995. "I was more conservative than I ought to have been, but I had a lot of company."

75 See Hallenback and Shaver, p. 5. This interpretation is my own, but consistent with other sources.

76 Beschloss and Talbott, p. 11.

77 The charge is too widespread and involves too many different individuals to lack some legitimacy. For examples see Isaacson, pp. 726-729 (shoving aside Kissinger), Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 47-55 (silencing Robert Gates and Dick Cheney), and Rowny, pp. 2l4-2l7, 239-240(edging out Rowny). (Rowny also

provides a discussion of Bush's style, one of consensus building an networking.)

Were the contributions of the bureaucratic approach only negative influences of constraint, delay and attrition, they would explain the difficulties of MBFR and the dismal track record of arms control generally. However, organizations and bureaucratic involvement can serve positive purposes as well in fostering, building and accomplishing goals. This is illustrated by the other conventional arms control negotiations, CFE and CSCE.

The complexity of arms control requires problems to be fractionated among many organizations, each combining the efforts of many individuals. The sheer mass of detail in MBFR or CFE necessarily required the interaction of hundreds of people. CFE demonstrated that this is not an insuperable obstacle, as it reached a treaty much more comprehensive than that contemplated in MBFR, and did so in 20 months. The experience of the representative of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to both MBFR and CFE, Major General (Retired) Adrian St. John, well illustrates this phenomenon. In early l989 he found himself in the mornings at MBFR sessions arguing for U.S. policy positions which were exactly the opposite of those he argued for at CFE reparatory discussions in the

afternoon.78 The issue is one of mission and belief in the value of the task, not obstruction. As St. John noted about MBFR, "My proudest achievement is having not signed a bad agreement."79 In CFE, the task was to get an agreement, not to avoid a bad one.

Neither individuals nor organizations have a monopoly on hindering or facilitating bargaining in a negotiation process. Both can be effective at either depending on the situation and the motivation. An example of the effectiveness of motivated individuals in

78 Related in personal interview, author with MG (ret.) Adrian St. John, USA, at U.S. MBFR/CFE Mission, Vienna, Austria, June l4, l989.

79 St. John interview.

overcoming organizational resistance is the development of the U.S. proposal in CFE in May 1989. While Bush and Baker had been slow to act, once they did they were able to quickly overcome the Pentagon's objections. At the suggestion of an aide, Robert Blackwill, and with only the review of experts who dismissed it as "all but pointless in an age of sophisticated satellites," Bush resurrected Eisenhower's "Open Skies" proposal of l955. By putting it forth publicly in a l2 May l989 speech he circumvented the entire

U.S. bureaucracy in making the proposal an official position.80

At Kennebunkport on May 2l, l989, JCS Chairman Admiral Crowe told Bush that 5-10% reduction of forces were "doable" without needing a new strategy in Europe. Baker sought a 25% cut, with the hope that Bush would resent it at a NATO summit scheduled for May 28th. In a meeting on the 22nd with Baker, Cheney, Crowe, and NSC Advisor Brent Scowcroft, Bush browbeat Crowe into accepting a compromise cut of 20%, and overruled Cheney's request that the numerical cut of troops be distributed among NATO as a whole, rather than just from U.S. forces. "I want something that the U.S. can do alone," Bush said. In a single conversation, and with only round numbers as

guides, U.S. military strategy was transformed.81

Acting under instruction, organizations and negotiators have demonstrated a similar capability to respond. This becomes especially evident as negotiations approach a political deadline. This concept drives much of the progress in CSCE, as talks approach formal review summits. National leaders expect to sign agreements, and instruct negotiators to


80 Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 69-71.

81 Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 76-77.


settle. As the JCS representative to CSCE noted, "We'll make progress because we have to. We will have something to sign.... The deadlines drive the process."82

At the Stockholm Conference the deadline concentrated the efforts, even though it required them to stop the clocks over a weekend to avoid a technical postponement. The chief West German delegate remarked afterwards, "nothing helps so much as a date when you have to deliver your homework."83 The chief U.S. delegate even suggested that the generally adverse political climate acted as a strong motivation toward success, as it gave additional impetus to the personal commitments of U.S. and Soviet leaders seeking a political achievement, and challenged the negotiators. "One should never underestimate

the creativity of an assemblage of highly qualified professional diplomats and military officers from some of the world's most sophisticated governmental establishments."84

Organizations can also be blunt instruments. As the deadline for the Paris summit of 1990 approached there was ever less reason to codify the military status based on equality between hostile alliances. With Germany reunited, Soviet troops withdrawing, and the Warsaw Pact fracturing, the CFE agreement reached its inclusion for its own sake, as organizations and individuals acted to accomplish the tasks leaders had set before them.

Remarkably little thought was given to the treaty's application in a Europe without the blocs of the Cold War.

As these example and discussion demonstrate, leaders can strongly influence the possibilities for agreement in negotiations by their actions to give impetus to organizations

82 Personal interview with Brigadier General Lynn Hooper, USA, JCS representative to CSCE, CSCE Mission, Vienna, Austria, June l4, l989.

83 John Borawski, Stan Weeks, and Charlotte E. Thompson, "The Stockholm Agreement 1986," Orbis (Winter l987), pp. 650-651, cited in Fry, p. 87.

84 James E. Goodby, "The Stockholm Conference, "in George, Farley and Dallin, pp. 169-170, 166.


and individuals, their ability to directly intervene, and their ability to establish a negotiation's framework. While these powers are not unlimited and define a leader's true authority, strategies can be used to circumvent obstacles domestically and internationally. In accepting the mandate for the Stockholm discussions as a separate CDE conference within CSCE, the leaders conspired to avoid the deadlocks that occurred in the CSCE Madrid session and in MBFR. In response to Gorbachev's l986 initiative, the North Atlantic Council formed a NATO High Level Task Force in May l986, circumventing the MBFR channels, in order to expeditiously set forth the basis for replacing MBFR by CFE. In ending MIBFR in favor of CFE, the rationale was bureaucratic rather than structural. No other way availed to bypass the MBFR bureaucracy which had emerged over 15 years.85 As the Stockholm and CFE examples demonstrate, these efforts to give impetus to negotiations are most successful when the leader negotiators with his own side, acting in a "conspiracy of interest" with his counterparts to bring matters to a conclusion.

Thus, the combination of the structural and bureaucratic approaches make it possible to better explain the puzzles of the case, as structure establishes limits in the situation which organizations and individuals either reinforce or challenge. Based on this second cut it is clear why MBFR failed, CFE succeeded beyond its necessity, and why CSCE was more overtly successful in producing agreements. However, while these approaches define what can be done and define the opportunities available to leaders, they do not identify the course a leader will choose or how this might be inf1uencad. For this, the psychological

approach is necessary.


85 See Hallenback and Shaver, pp. 8-11.



The hypotheses of the psychological approach are illustrated by the events and interactions of this case. Psychological theory helps fill the gap left by the structural and bureaucratic approaches, as it yields insight into the belie that motivate leaders and how these beliefs engage with those of others. When this theory is combined with the understanding gained from the structural and bureaucratic approaches, a more sufficient explanation emerges of all but the last of the case's puzzles. Gorbachev's initiatives succeeded in leading to major arms control agreements, it failed do so quickly because

of the psychological impediments which had to be overcome.

The nature of political circumstances is that alternatives generally present opposite dangers, while complexity of interaction makes finding at y optimal mean very difficult. Since any policy arena is only a part of a larger domestic and international environment, the risks associated with particular policy choices varies over time, as outside influences change the basic problem. Given incomplete knowledge and the blunt instruments of organization, policy-makers' larger concern is not to devise an optimal policy, but to

choose one that errs on the side of caution. In the face of widespread uncertainties, decision-makers rely heavily on basic assumptions of beliefs and images, providing a basis for psychological explanations of decisions and international interaction.

For example, in security policy, the danger is typically whether to risk having inadequate forces versus building too many, at large cost and provoking a spiral of arms building. In arms control, concessions can be too generous, encouraging exploitation, domestic criticism, and disillusion, or too miserly, reinforcing intransigence. In extreme


cases such as MBFR, both sides may perceive unacceptable risks from any likely

agreement, and may undertake negotiations only to forestall other risks from failing to

conduct negotiations. Since arms control depends on mutual advantages in the situation which are not always present, it cannot be a universal prescription, only a component of a larger national security strategy. Arms control is not always wise, nor valuable absolutely

for its own sake.

In opening the Stockholm CSCE conference on CDEs in January l984, U.S.

Secretary of State George Shultz noted that, "Progress depends on many factors beyond the substance of proposals or the ingenuity of the negotiators."86 As the CSCE process and the other European conventional arms control negotiations demonstrated, the hypotheses of psychological theory plays an important role in international bargaining and domestic decision-making. The theory rests on the observation that national leaders act on simplistic beliefs and images, and that these images are resistant to change.

That President Ronald Reagan had such beliefs and acted upon them is generally well known. Reagan knew almost no history, and the little he did know he tailored to support his firmly held preconceptions. He treated biblical references to Armageddon as predictions. The details of foreign policy bored Reagan. His view reflected only a few basic ideas: that communism was evil, that within America was greatness, that nuclear weapons constituted an apocalyptic danger to the survival of civilization, and that the

conflict could be ended by converting the Soviets through personal appeal. Reagan fervently hoped and optimistically expected he could persuade the Soviets that communist


86 Cited in Goodby, p. 159.


philosophy was in error, America's intentions were benign, and that nuclear Armageddon should be feared. Reagan did not sense that the long history of dispute, the obstacles of bureaucracy and suspicion, and his own policy of confrontation would be obstacles to lasting reconciliation, as long as he was sincere.87 Reagan appeared confident that his good intentions would be clear, believing others would interpret his behavior as he


Reagan was not alone in such simplistic understandings. According to an important advisor, George Bush took for granted that other countries shared American middle-class ideals, were rational, and could easily absorb and adopt America's complex democratic philosophy. He idealistically assumed that anything was possible if he made some broad pronouncements and developed friendships. "Friends don't argue, they compromise," he often said, neglecting Lord Palmerston's dictum that nations have interests, not friends,

and the obvious intractable conflicts which do exist.89 The same simplistic beliefs would lead Bush to foolishly urge Ukrainians to trust Moscow and restrain themselves from seeking independence.

Nor were the Soviets more sophisticated. In l987 Gorbachev still did not grasp the contradiction of proclaiming commitments to the unity of humankind, the inadmissibility of nuclear war, and indivisible security while continuing to modernize nuclear forces and imprison dissidents. Gorbachev expected his call for disarmament to be self-evident.90 Aides were no more sophisticated, although often strikingly out of tune with their leader.


87 Summarized from Kissinger, Diplomacy, pp. 764-773.

88 Jervis notes the same point in John Foster Dulles' expectations of Khruschev. PMP, pp. 66-68.

89 Rowny pp. 223-224.

90 For a detailed look at his world view, see the chapter "How We See The World Today," in Perestroika, pp. 135-160.

The top two Soviet military leaders convinced U.S. negotiators in mid-1988 that the Soviet Union did not seek rapid arms negotiations, as they felt the need to underscore the Soviet Union's status as a superpower as a response to the declining economic and internal situation.91 The firmly held simplicities and contradictions on both sides served to impede the relationship.

More often, the senior leadership reflected a common consensus around a set of simplistic beliefs and images, contrary to the disunity bureaucratic politics predicts. Such was the case initially after Gorbachev's U.N. speech. Almost all of Bush's principal aides joined him in seeing the speech as a threat to NATO, eve though the proposal was 20 times more generous than NATO's most recent proposal in MBFR.92 What decisively turned around opinion was the response of European leaders, who made clear that the

failure of the U.S. to respond would be the greater threat to NATO.93 Throughout the entire Gorbachev period, the leaders of both the U.S. and USSR assessed their mutual situation differently, and neither correctly assessed the response of Europeans to their policies or the situation. Most noteworthy was the Soviet failure to understand how much East European leaders found perestroika and glasnost threatening to their legitimacy rather than supportive of it. On the U.S. side, failures included assessments of Soviet military power, Soviet unwillingness to use force in Eastern Europe, and of the

genuineness of the Soviet leadership's commitment to arms control.


91 Rowny, p. 2O2.

92 Kenneth L. Adelnan, The Great Universal Embrace: Arms Summitry--A Skeptic's Account, (New York: Simon and Schuster, l989), p. 346.

93 Beschloss and Talbott, pp. l9-28, 39, 69-80.

One typical example was Secretary Baker's meeting with Gorbachev in May 1989. On the economy, Gorbachev admitted his fear that decontrolling prices would mean things would cost more, taking money from people. Baker believed such a move would stimulate production, puffing money into pockets. Gorbachev then announced a unilateral cut of 500 short range nuclear weapons and offered new CFE concessions, in the hope of averting planned U.S. Lance deployments. Baker, the Bush Administration's leading proponent of American cuts, responded in fury, believing that Gorbachev was trying to upstage him and still trying to divide the West.94 These incidents only served to confirm Jervis' proposition about the impact of psychology, that as long as the basic beliefs about

the other side's intentions are wrong, policy will lead down a blind alley."95

Conventional arms control during the Gorbachev period confirms the proposition of psychological theory that lasting cooperation is dependent on changing the images held by I elite leadership groups. While beliefs are unlikely to become identical, changes may realign beliefs, finding a greater commonality of interest. Bureaucracy tends to be more intractable in the beliefs of its members, due to its larger number of people and more concentrated interests and views, but leaders can change pinions to a degree. Such was the case at Stockholm. Observing Gorbachev's verbal support of the talks, to include on-site inspection CSBMs, Reagan saw a prospect for other agreements, discounting that the concession of on-site inspection had been initially accepted by Chernenko in l984.

The acceptance of Soviet sincerity by the Bush Administration was the turning point in arms control during the case. This occurred in late April and early May l989, after a


94 Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 65-68.

95 Jervis PMP, p. 77.

four month pausa, during which a national security review was conducted. The review was largely hedged. More important than the review itself was the change in opinions of Bush and his senior subordinates, reached through interaction with the Soviets. Initially, this shift accepted Gorbachev's usefulness to the U.S. and his sincerity, but pushed for further concession, interpreting each offer as a sign of weakness--an invitation to push further.96 Only after observing Soviet restraint during the liberation of Eastern Europe in

Fall l9S9 did the Bush administration accept a broad commonality of interest in arms control, just as the commonality was passing away as Germany's division ended.97 The effect of this conspiracy of interest for arms control progress the effect was dramatic, and was directly responsible for establishing the Paris CSCE conference as a deadline for CFE, and for the rapid progress which then made.98 Each side tasked its negotiators to succeed, and the senior leadership remained engaged, settling the larger question quickly as they


Psychological theory's focus on cause as images and beliefs provides a framework to assess the importance of CSBMs. As gradual, incremental change, CSBMs will not overcome deeply entrenched beliefs. Nevertheless, CSBM's had a utility which is hard to estimate, but certainly important in cumulatively setting aide "enemy" images. It was therefore not just "arms control junk food," as it was popularly known around the State


96 Beechloss and Talbott, pp. 43 45. As evident of the shift, in July 1989 the Baker had privately told Shevardnadze that the United States would understand if Gorbachev had to use the Soviet military against"irrational bloodletting and national hatreds." (p. 176) It was an inelegant signal, as Shevardnadze was

the member of the Soviet leadership most urging restraint of force.

97 beschloss and Talbott, pp. 141-179. At this point, restraint in arms control progress was not the cooperation of the leaders, but concerns that further progress might undermine Gorbachev's domestic position.

98 Beschloss and Talbott, p. l55.


Department, nor was it "the theater of the absurd," as it was occasionally referred to by Soviet diplomats.99 However, since even a useful effort will fail in the absence of political support, these negotiations can diminish confidence if that support is withheld. Unilateral concessions can be used for the same purpose and with more dramatic effect, but risk being seen as weakness, depending on the images held by the other party. To be effective,

unilateral concessions must be of a magnitude to overcome the enemy image, but

conditional on responses and not so large as to eliminate the need for negotiation. Weakness invites exploitation by further demands, not reciprocation or changed beliefs.

Understanding the importance of psychological theory provides leaders some opportunities. As images can vary, they are not first causes.100 They can be manipulated through the presentation of persistent, discrepant evidence. The history of U.S.-Soviet interaction suggests such a task is difficult, but possible, a willingness to make significant concessions. This confirms the basis of strategies such as Charles Osgood's GRIT. However, the case also offers a cautionary note. Arms control efforts took a long time to overcome psychological barriers, and did so with difficulty. Arms control responded to the ending of the Cold War, rather than bringing it about. Even though these

efforts ultimately succeeded, their success came to late for a revolution in East-West affairs to save the Soviet Union, Gorbachev, or to manage a gradual transition. The operation succeeded, but the patient died.


99 Goodby, in reference to the Stockholm talks, p. l7l., citing Strobe Talbott, Deadly Gambits, (New York: Knopf, 1984), and Goodby, p. 144.

100 Jervis,PMP,p. 31.



There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust.

--Demosthenes, Philippic


We don't mistrust each other because we are armed. We're armed because we mistrust each other.

--Ronald Reagan, remark to Mikhail Gorbachev


The interaction of the leaders, organizations and states during the end of the Cold War demonstrates a validity for each of the approaches suggested by political science. However, none of the approaches was free from problems or the influence of the others. Only a syntheses of the approaches could explain the puzzles in U.S. decision-making and international arms control bargaining. While such a synthesis provides a powerful source of understanding, the framework of arms control which emerges is still too incomplete for

prophecy. Nevertheless, this framework is useful for the insights and prescriptions it suggests. Politics is not an exact or predictable science, but also not a random one. That the course of the Cold War defied theoretical expectations and leaders' aspirations was a failure of political scientists and politics, not political science. The study of political science still has enduring value for leaders, historians, and military officers.


Each of the three theoretical approaches has strengths and weaknesses as a description of the arms control process and for explaining the end of the Cold War. A synthesis which incorporates all three approaches provides a powerful source for understanding, overcoming the limitations of each individual approach. Taken together, the puzzling patterns of behavior are effectively explained.


The structural approach describes the basic military problem as a security dilemma. Neither power can assure its security by unilateral efforts, either by building up arms generally or by acquiring weapons whose character is largely defensive. Each state's attempts to achieve a level of security which is immune from the prospects of chance or surprise attack provoke matching responses which only result in worsening the security prospects of both parties. At higher levels of armaments both sides are more vulnerable

and hence, less secure. The situation confronts the states with strong incentives to maintain large, forward deployed militaries at a high state of readiness, with consequences that are ultimately counterproductive as the result of the states' interaction.

The description of this self-defeating spiral of behavior is important, as it details the opportunity and difficulty of arms control, and de-emphasizes the ideological sources of confrontation. The costs and risks of insecurity at higher levels of armament provide a mutual interest in arms control which focuses on capabilities and ignores intentions. While opportune, this mutual interest is incapable of overcoming the basic dilemma inherent in the situation. Arms control can help stabilize the situation, but has little prospect to transform it. Instead, the acquisition of more arms is bounded by the potential domestic political and economic consequences of maintaining large militaries. Vulnerability is uneasily accepted, as political leaders are constrained to policies which mediate between international and domestic risks. Nuclear weapons do not avert this dilemma. They help it to endure, as they increase the mutual danger and its immediacy while lowering the economic cost of long term confrontation. While emphasizing the symmetrical nature of


the Cold War, this approach also incorporates the asymmetries of force structure quantities, technical quality, and geography.

While effectively explaining the broad continuities of U.S. and Soviet behavior, the structural approach is less useful in describing the specific behavior of leaders and

institutions, shifts in policy, or the conclusion of the Cold War. The structural approach prescribes a "tit for tat" strategy of incremental compromises which has historically proved unsuccessful, even when pursued only for the modest aim of codifying existing behaviors.

The bureaucratic and psychological approaches answer these puzzles, by adding two more layers of explanation and description without overcoming the basic propositions of the structural approach. The bureaucratic approach details the interaction of institutions within the U.S. government, explaining both the friction which frustrates incremental arms control efforts

over time and how complex negotiations can be rapidly concluded. While traditionally viewed as an approach which challenges the effectiveness of political leaders, the end of the Cold War suggests institutions can also be enabling, and are responsive to demands from national leaders. Experience also documents the existence of bureaucratic politics at the international level, based on the complexity of arrangements its for negotiations. The forum and procedures for negotiations generally serve to raise difficulties, but are also

subject to political choice. Thus, the bureaucratic approach has a negative influence on the interaction of states over long periods of time, but leaves open opportunities for political leaders to act in a conspiratorial manner to produce rapid and significant progress toward agreements.

The psychological approach describes the process by which leaders interact, based on the beliefs and images they hold. Mutual cooperation requires overcoming suspicions which reflect the perceptions of intent. To overcome psychological impediments created through a long history of hostility, strategy must rely on discrete actions which are unambiguous and challenge the adversary's beliefs. This must be followed by clear signals of opportunity for gain from negotiation. Incremental concessions risk failure by desensitizing the adversary from change which might otherwise overcome a hostile mindset. Despite changing the perception of intent, incremental concession will still fail unless opportunity is clearly contingent on negotiation, as they will create impressions of weakness which invite exploitation through firmness. This approach provides a deeper set of explanations than the other two, and incorporates the broader international relationship beyond just relative military force structures.

Thus, while this focus on intention, unilateral concession, and discrete action superficially seems to challenge the propositions of the structural approach, the contrasts are really part of a larger synthesis, distinguished in sequence and as layers of explanation. The synthesis describes a more thorough framework of arms control. The combination of approaches has less simplicity, but better explains the puzzles presented in the long continuity and surprisingly abrupt ending of the Cold War.


Graham Allison's landmark work examining the Cuban missile crisis illustrates how the contrasts of different approaches have important policy implications, and how a


synthesis may be constructed.1 The Cuban missile crisis should have been explained effectively by a rational approach focusing on the relative military forces in the structure of the situation. The crisis was a focused one in time, in the limited number of actors, and in the high stakes of nuclear confrontation. The U.S. domestic actors were limited to the executive branch. The immediacy of the threat and clarity of issues should have limited the

political concerns of domestic actors and promoted institutional cooperation. On the surface, such an approach does explain the events, as the U.S decided to use its regional conventional superiorities to impose a blockade and force a Soviet withdrawal of missiles from Cuba.

However, a closer look at the evidence reveals a pattern of events which reflects the tenets of bureaucratic politics and organizational processes. This pattern is less rational in avoiding international risks, and more contingent in its policy consequences. The resolution of the crisis through a successful blockade proceeded as much by accident as intention. The setting of the crisis was strongly influenced by semi-autonomous institutions, as these organizations established the intelligence options, and implementation which defined the crisis and constrained policy-makers. The basic U.S. policy decision was as much chance as choice, reflecting misperception, miscommunication, misinformation, bargaining, and political calculations.2 Only a synthesis of approaches provided a coherent explanation which incorporates the full sweep

of events


1 Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, l97l). Later scholars generally merged Allison's bureaucratic politics and organizational process models. See discussion in chapter 2 of this paper.

2 See Allison, pp. 117-132, 187-210.

The policy implications of the different approaches to analyzing a nuclear confrontation is in the level of danger. If the rational approach had prevailed as an explanation, the case would suggest that the general danger c f nuclear war is low, as a direct consequence of its serious stakes and risks. To the degree that other explanations and evidence document the role of accident, the lack of control and intention by policy-makers, the nuclear dangers are greater. The analysis of political science in this case served policy-making interests by cautioning against confidence in the impossibility of stumbling into nuclear exchange and the ability to manage crises, and by emphasizing the

need for clear communication between national leaders. That these lessons were absorbed by policy-makers is demonstrated by the flurry of effort for arms control in l963, including a "hot line" agreement.3 Recent history has confirmed and strengthened the analysis of inadvertent danger.4

Allison's political science synthesis also has value in other circumstances. In examining the problem of strategic surrender and war termination, rational calculations should link costs and benefits. Surrender should occur when continued fighting presents the prospects of additional costs without compensating gains, due to the dominant force on one side. Political process explanations present a different calculus, as organizations distort the perceptions and inhibit consideration of surrender, and as leaders' personal

identification with policies overshadows national interests. Thus, surrender would depend


3 See Glenn T. Seaborg, Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years, (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, l97l), pp. 203-205, and U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements: Texts and Histories of the Negotiations, l990 Edition, (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, l99O), pp. 3l-33.

4 Robert S. McNamara "One Minute to Doomsday," The New York Times (14 October 1992). Revelations from Soviet archives provide additional support to the analysis of misinformation, misjudgment, and miscalculation.


on a change of leaders in a hopeless situation, rather than a change of heart in a disadvantageous one.5 Case studies support a synthesis of approaches, rather than a single explanation, as leaders do calculate to a degree.6


The circumstances of conventional arms control differ from nuclear crises and strategic surrender in wartime. The longer dimension of time and lesser immediate stakes makes change possible through strategies which engage an adversary by negotiation or by influencing perceptions. The structural situation is different, modifying the impact of political processes, and increasing the importance of psychological ones. From this synthesis leaders can deduce a strategy for pursuing arms control agreements in the national (and necessarily reflecting mutual) interests. The focus should be a modified

GRIT strategy, armed not only to involve the personal impetus of an adversary's

leadership in negotiations by changing beliefs, but also to encourage a conspiracy of leadership to jointly and mutually reorganize domestic and international institutions. Given the pattern described by the synthesis of the approaches, such measures are a precondition for rapid and effective bargaining, and also to secure change from outside random events over time. This window of opportunity is a narrow one, much dependent on the insights

and visions of national leaders. Such a synthesis offers useful answers to the failure of both incremental and ambitious arms control efforts in the past. It explains not only why the Cold War was


5 Allison pp. 26l-263.

6 For detailed examples, see Paul Kecskemeti, Strategic Surrender: The Politics of Victory and Defeat, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, l958).

difficult to end, but why earlier discrete efforts failed to close it.7 Overcoming an adversary's mindset is only the first step of a larger effort. Negotiations which extend too long in time are subject to friction from outside events. Agreements which codify behavior without reorganizing domestic institutions fail to overcome the limitations of structure and allow suspicions to be promoted over time by parochial institutions or leaders. The l990 agreements and the changes in both U.S. and Soviet organizations escaped this "potential well."

This synthesis also offers a framework to assess the success or failure of particular political leaders and their efforts. On this basis, Gorbachev's accomplished only a Pyrrhic victory in 1990, as he lost the Soviet empire in the effort to save it. Had Gorbachev began with a clearer assessment in 1985 of the dilemmas facing the Soviet Union, and of the relationship of structure, processes, and psychology, he should have been able to implement a strategy with a higher prospect of earlier and less drastic accommodation. Instead, his incremental approach before 1989 failed to overcome U.S. suspicions. This

was compounded by failure to rapidly overcome the bureaucratic handicaps to

international negotiation. Once these obstacles were overcome by the 1988 UN speech, the establishment of CFE, and tolerating the 1989 changes in East European leadership, Gorbachev's continuing use of incremental concessions failed to tie opportunity to U.S. concession. The failed conception and execution of strategy conditioned U.S. leaders to perceiving weakness, further encouraging firmness and exploitation. Gorbachev's efforts


7 Strategies approximating GRIT were tried in 1954-55, 1963, 197O-73, and 1977-79, without closing the Cold War. The 1954-55 attempt of the Soviets is detailed as an example of GRIT in Deborah Larson, "Crisis Prevention and the Austrian State Treaty," International Organization, Vol 41, No 1 (Winter

1987), pp. 27-60.

thus proved self-defeating, and not inevitable from the pressures of economic weakness arising from internal balancing and the inefficiency of the command economy.

Based on this synthesis, the Reagan Administration's role in ending the Cold War is more modest than many contemporary U.S. observers suggest. Its steadfastness in the early l980's may have helped accelerate the Soviet economic crisis, but hardly predetermined it. Reagan's second term delayed the resolution of the crisis, ultimately increasing the concessions the Soviets would make, but at the risk of violence and Soviet repression throughout Eastern Europe. Reagan's personal transformation in willingness to negotiate was important in setting the stage for the Bush Administration, but of lesser

importance than either Gorbachev's efforts and or his miscues. The Bush Administration's role is also more modest than Gorbachev's, and likewise risked uncontrolled, rapid and possibly violent change in order to exploit perceived and real Soviet weaknesses. The risks of this U.S. strategy were perceived in 1991, and responded to after they were to late to avert. This led to the unsuccessful and ultimately embarrassing effort to halt Soviet collapse, typified by the August 1, 1991, Bush "Chicken Kiev" speech to the Ukrainian

parliament denouncing "suicidal nationalism."8

U.S. strategy and its risks were largely the product of Gorbachev's initiatives and his approach to pursue engagement with the United States and Western Europe. The failure for him personally is already evident. For the United States, the ending of the Cold War on Western terms without Western concessions would appear to have justified the risks, so far. However, historical hindsight may come to judge U.S. leaders as deficient in their


8 Beschloss and Talbott, pp. 4l5-4l8.


strategy as Gorbachev. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure to obtain Western concession has altered Chinese strategies toward renewal, away from democratization. The chaos of Soviet collapse may still lead to uncontrollable violence, there and internationally, and may have doomed the region's chance for democracy. Even if' the best of possible futures prevails, this will be a product of luck, not Western skill in navigating the Gorbachev period.


While investigation of European conventional arms control efforts during the

Gorbachev era helps to illuminate the relationship of structure, bureaucratic politics and organizational process, and psychology, it is not the "end of the trail." Each approach offered a level of causation, but none were first causes. Explaining Gorbachev's particular strategies and detailing their effects on U.S. leaders' images will require examining the evolution of his strategic thinking over time, the source of its changes, and the broader context of U.S.-Soviet interaction. Also yet to be answered is how achievable a modified

GRIT strategy might be, how useful is for transforming a hostile security relationship, and whether Gorbachev's choices were inevitable in producing the Cold War's collapse. Arms control normally focuses on stability, inherently of the larger status quo. But by the middle of l989, revolutionary change in East-West relations had begun. No longer were the states engaged in dealing with the situation, their actions were also drastically transforming it. Given the theoretical tools and insights developed in this paper it should now be possible to explore the broader contexts and causes of this

transformation and Gorbachev's European security policy, so that judgments may be better drawn on these questions.

Also awaiting further investigation is the application of he approaches developed here to other arms control negotiations, during the Gorbachev period, at other times, and among other states. Given the recurrence of arms control issues among states, and the persisting importance of institutions and political leaders, this synthesis should a general value which is not limited to superpowers in the Cold War setting. While conventional arms control efforts are largely in abeyance for the United States due to the uncertainties of the post-Cold War environment, these issues still have immediate importance for

relationships among other parties such as the Koreas, Israel and Syria, India and Pakistan and others. An insightful understanding of the general arms control process will allow the U.S. to promote its interests by assisting others toward settlements, rather than appealing for U.S. commitments.


According to one of the principal theorists of arms control, Professor Thomas Schelling, the subject is broad, including "all forms of military cooperation between potential enemies in the interest of reducing the likelihood of war, its scope and violence if it occurs, and the political and economic costs of being prepared for it." can be valuable for improving security, but also to appeal to domestic constituencies and neutral

states, and to save money.10 To paraphrase Clausewitz, arms control is military policy and politics by other means.


9 Thomas C. Schelling and Morton H. Halperin, Strategy and Arms Control, (New York: Pergamon Brassey, 1985), p. 2.

10 Schelling and Halperin, pp. 44-48.

For the specialist within the military who participates in arms control negotiations and policy-making a good political science framework enables better analysis of the environment and better judgment in developing strategies to the national interest. For the generalist, this study contributes not only an analysis of a most important history, but also a more careful understanding of the interaction of international and domestic politics in military affairs.

Successful arms control negotiations requires the cooperation of the military, especially for expertise. With today's extraordinarily lethal weaponry arms control and armaments are no longer separate subjects. They are two sides of the same coin. Indeed, arms control may prove more important militarily, as Bernard Brodie commented on the invention of the hydrogen bomb, "Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win our wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose."



Adelman, Kenneth L. The Great Universal Embrace: Arms Summitry--A Skeptic's

Account. New York: Simon and Schuster, l989.


Allison, Graham. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. Boston: Little, Brown, 1971.

Almond, Gabriel A. and Genco, Stephen J. "Clouds, Clocks, and the Study of Politics." World Politics. vol. 29. (July l977). pp. 489-522.


Art, Robert I. "Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy-A Critique." Policy Sciences. Vol 4 (l973).


Art, Robert. and Jervis, Robert. eds. International Politics: Enduring Concepts and Contemporary Issues, 3rd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.


Auton, Graeme. ed. Arms Control and European Security. New York: Praeger, l989.


Axelrod, Robert. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic, l984.


Barber, James D. The Presidential Character: Predicting Performance in the White House. 2d ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, l977.


Beschloss, Micheal R. and Talbott, Strobe. At the Highes The Inside Story of the End of the Cold War. Boston: Little, Brown, 1993.


Betts, Richard K. Soldiers, Statesmen and Cold War Crises. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, l977.


______________. "Systems for Peace or Causes of War? Collective Security, Arms Control, and the New Europe." International Security. vol l7. no. l. (Summer l992). pp. 3-43.


___________. Surprise Attack: Lessons for Defense Planning. Washington, D.C.:

Brookings, l982.


Bialer, Seweryn. The Soviet Paradox. New York: Random House, 1986.


Bialer, Seweryn. and Mandlebaum, Micheal. The Global Rivals. New York: Random

House, 1988.


Blacker, Coit D. and Duffy, Gloria. International Arms Control: Issues and Agreements. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984.

Blackwill, Robert D. and F. Stephen Larrabee. eds. Conventional Arms Control and East-West Security. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, l989.


Booth, Ken. and Wheeler, Nicholas J. "The Security Dilemma." in Baylis, John. and Rengger, N.J. Dilemmas of World Politics: International Issues in a Changing World. New York: Oxford University Press, l992.


Bowman, William R. Limiting Conventional Forces in Europe. Washington, D.C.:

National Defense University, 1985.


Brzezinski Zbigniew. "Toward a Common European Home." Problems of Communism.

(November-December 1989), pp. 1-10.


Bull, Hedley. The Control of the Arms Race: Disarmament and Arms Control in the

Missile Age. New York: Praeger, 1961.


Burt, Richard. ed. Arms control and Defense Postures in the 198Os. Boulder, CO:

Westview, 1982.


Carnesale, Albert. and Haass, Richard N. eds. Superpower Arms Control: Setting the Record Straight. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, l987.


Casti, John L. Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989.


Cheney, Dick. Secretary of Defense. Annual Report of the Secretary of Defense to the President and the Congress. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, January 1990.


Clausewitz, Carl Von. On War. ed. and transl. by Howard, Michael., and Paret, Peter. Princeton: Princeton University Press, l984.

Dallin, Alexander., Farley, Philip J., and George, Alexander L. eds. US-Soviet Security Cooperation: Achievements, Failures, Lessons. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.


Dean, Jonathan. Watershed in Europe: Dismantling the East-West Confrontation.

Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, l987.


deRivera, Joseph H. The Psychological Dimension of Foreign Policy. Columbus, OH: Charles Merrill, 1968.


Downs, Anthony. Inside Bureaucracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967.

Eckstein, Harry. "Case Study and Theory in Political Science." in Greenstein, Fred I. and Polsby, Nelson W. eds. Strategies of Inquiry. Vol. 7 of Handbook of Political Science. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, l975.


Epstein, Joshua M. Conventional Force Reductions: A Dynamic Assessment. Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1990.


Ermarth, Fritz W. "Contrasts in American and Soviet Strategic Thought." in Derek Leebaert. Soviet Military Thinking. London: George, Allen & Unwin, 1981.


Eurogroup. "Western Defense: The European Role in NATO." Brussels, May 1988.


Foreign Affairs Chronology, 1978-1989. New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1990.


Fry, John. The Helsinki Process: Negotiating Security an I Cooperation in Europe. Washington, D.C.: National Defense University, 1993.


Gaddis, John L. "International Relations Theory and the End of the Cold War."

International Security. vol. l7. (Winter l992/93). pp. 5-58.


__________ The United States and the End of the Cold War. Implications,

Reconsiderations, Provocations. New York: Oxford University Press, l992.


Galvin, GEN (ret) Jack. USA. Personal interview, Walters, Wally Z. West Point, New York, 13 May 1995.


George, Alexander L. Presidential Decisionmaking in Foreign Policy: The Effective Use of Information and Advice. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1980.


George, Alexander L., Farley, Philip J., and Dallin, Alexander. US-Soviet Security Cooperation: Achievements, Failures, Lessons. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.


George, Alexander L. and George, Juliette L. Woodrow Wilson and Colonel House: A Personality Study. New York: John Day, 1956.


George, Alexander. and Smoke, Richard. Deterrence in American Foreign Policy: Theory and Practice. New York: Columbia University Press, l974.


Gilpin, Robert. The Political Economy of International Relations. Princeton: Princeton University, l987.


Gleick, James. Chaos: Making A New Science. New York: Viking, l987.


Goetze, Bernd A. Security in Europe: A Crisis of Confidence. New York: Praeger, 1984.


Gorbachev, Mikhail. Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World. London: Collins, l987.


"Gorbachev Pledges Major Troop Cutback, Then Ends Trip, Citing Vast Soviet Quake." The New York Times. (December 8, 1988), p. A1.


Greenstein, Fred. Personality and Politics: Problems of Evidence, Inference, and Conceptualization. 2d ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.


_____________ "The Impact of Personality on Politics: An Attempt to Clear Away the Underbrush." American Political Science Review. Vol 61 (September l987).


Griffith, William E. The Superpowers and Regional Tensions: The USSR, the United States, and Europe. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1983.


Gromyko, Andrei. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday, 1989.


Hagan, Lawrence S. ed. The Crisis in Western Security. New York: St. Martin's Press, l982.


Halberstram, David. The Best and the Brightest. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1973.


Hallenback, Ralph A. and Shaver, Daniel E. et. al. On Disarmament: The Role of

Conventional Arms Control in National Security Strategy. Carlisle Barracks, PA:

Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1990.


Halperin, Morton H. Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.:

Brookings, l974.


Halperin, Morton. and Kanter, Arnold. eds. Readings in Foreign Policy: A Bureaucratic Perspective. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.


Hilsman, Roger. The Politics of Policy Making in Defense and Foreign Affairs:

Conceptual Models and Bureaucratic Politics. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1987.


Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, l946.


Holder, L.D."Offensive Tactical Operations." Military Review. (December 1993).


Hopf, Ted. "Getting the End of the Cold War Wrong." International Security. Vol 18. No 2 (Fall l993).


Hooper, Brigadier General Lynn. USA. JCS Representative to CSCE. Personal interview, Walters, Wally Z. CSCE Mission, Vienna, Austria, June 14, l989.

Isaacson, Walter. Kissinger: A Biography. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.


Isaacson, Walter. and Evan Thomas. The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They

Made. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.


Janis, Irving L. Victims of Groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Muffin, 1972.


Janis, Irving L. and Mann, Leon. Decision Making: A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment. New York: Free Press, l977.


Jervis, Robert. "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma." World Politics. vol. 3O. no. 2. (January l978). pp. lS6-2l4.


____________ "Hypotheses on Misperception." World Politics. Vol 20. No 3 (April



___________ Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Princeton:

Princeton University Press, l976.


___________ The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.


Jervis, Robert., Lebow, Richard N., and Stein, Janice G. Psychology and Deterrence. Baltimore: John Hopkins, l985.


Keliher, John G. The Negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions. New

York: Pergammon, l98l.


Kennan, George F. "America and the Russian Future." Foreign Affairs. Vol. 29 (April 1951).


____________ "The Failure in Our Success." The New York Times. (March l4, 1994), p. A17.


Keohane, Robert O. ed. Neorealism and Its Critics. New York: Columbia University, 1986.


Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, l994.

Krasner, Stephen. "Regimes and the Limits of Realism: Regimes as Autonomous

Variables." International Organization. Vol 36. No 2 (Spring l982).



Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1970.


Larson, Deborah Welch. "Crisis Prevention and the Austrian State Treaty." International Organization. vol. 4l. no. l. (Winter l987). pp. 27-60.


___________ Origins of Containment. A Psychological Explanation. Princeton,

Princeton University Press, l985.


Leebaert, Derek. Soviet Military Thinking. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985.


Lijphart, Arend. "Comparative Politics and the Comparative Method." The American Political Science Review. vol. 65. (1971). pp. 687-690.


Luck, Edward C. ed. Arms Control: The Multilateral Alternative. New York: New York University Press, l983.


Marsh, James G. and Simon, Herbert A. Organizations. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1958.


Mearsheimer, John J. "Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War." Atlantic. Vol 266 (August 1990).


Mill, John Stuart. A System of Logic. ed. by J. M. Robson. Toronto: University of Toronto, 1973.


Mueller, John. Retreat From Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War. New York:

Basic Books, 1989.


"NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Force Comparisons." Brussels: NATO Information

Service, l984.


Nelson, Daniel N. and Anderson, Roger B. Soviet-American Relations: Understanding Differences, Avoiding Conflicts. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Research Books, l988.


Neustadt, Richard. Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. New York: Free Press, 1990.


Newhouse, John. Cold Dawn: The Story of SALT. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and

Winston, 1973.


Osgood, Charles E. Alternatives to War or Surrender. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1962.

Oye, Kenneth A. Cooperation Under Anarchy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, l986.


Parker, Jay M. "Understanding Intervention: The Utility of Decision-Making Theory." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University (1991).


Perrow, Charles. Normal Accidents. New York: Basic Books, 1984.


Posen, Barry. The Sources of Military Doctrine. Ithaca: Cornell University, l984.


Putnam, Robert. "Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: The Logic of Two-Level Games." International Organization. vol. 42. (Summer l988). pp. 427-460.


Record, Jeffery. Force Reductions in Europe: Starting Over. Cambridge, MA: Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, October 1980.


Report of the Secretary of Defense, Casper W. Weinburger, to the Congress on the FY1988/FY/989 Budget and FY l988-92 Defense Programs. Washington, D.C.:

USGPO, January 12, 1987.


Risse-Kappen, Thomas. "From Mutual Containment to Common Security: Europe During and After the Cold War." Klare, Michael. and Thomas, Daniel. eds. World Security at Century's End. New York: St. Martin's Press, l990.


Rose, William. Unilateral Arms Control Initiatives. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988.


Rowny, Edward. It Takes One To Tango. Washington, D C.: Brassey's, 1992.


Schelling, Thomas C. Arms and Influence. New Haven: Yale, 1966.


Schelling, Thomas C. and Halperin, Morton. Strategy and Arms Control. New York:

Pergammon, 1985.

Schilling, Warner. "The Politics of National Defense: Fiscal l95O." in Warner Schilling, Paul Y. Hammond, and Glenn H. Snyder, Strategy, Politics, and Defense Budgets. New York: Columbia University Press, l962.


Seaborg, Glenn T. Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, l987.


Sheehan, Michael. Arms Control: Theory and Practice. New York: Blackwell, 1988.


Sheehy, Gail. The Man Who Changed the World: The Lives of Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

New York: HarperCollins, 1990.




Shevchenko, Arkady N. Breaking with Moscow. New York: Knopf, l985.


Singer, J. David. "The Level of Analysis Problem in International Relations." World Politics. Vol 14 (October 1961).


Shevardnadze, Eduard. The Future Belongs to Freedom. New York: Free Press, l99l.


Sloss, Leon. and Davis, M. Scott. eds. A Game for High Stakes: Lessons Learned in Negotiating with the Soviet Union. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1986.


Smith, Gerard. Doubletalk: The Story of the First Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1980.


Snyder, Jack. "Science and Sovietology: Bridging the Methods Gap in Soviet Foreign Policy." World Politics. vol. 4O. (January 1988). pp. 169-193.


Sorenson, Theodore C. Decision-Making in the White House. New York: Columbia

University Press, l963.


Spanier, John. American Foreign Policy Since World War II. 7th ed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, l977.


Spanier, John. and Uslander, Eric M. American Foreign Policy Making and the

Democratic Dilemmas. New York: Wadsworth, 1989.


Stagner, Ross. Psychological Aspects of International Conflict. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1967.


Steinbruner, John D. The Cybernetic Theory of Decision: New Dimensions of Political Analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974.


St. John, MG (ret) Adrian. USA. Personal interview, Walters, Wally Z. U.S. MBFR/CFE Mission, Vienna, Austria, June l4, l989.


Talbott, Strobe. Endgame. New York: Harper and Row, 1986.


Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. transl. by Warner, Rex. New York:

Viking-Penguin, 1972.


Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. (Paris: November 19, 1990).


Ullman, Richard H. Securing Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.


U.S. Arms Control And Disarmament Agency. Arms Control and Disarmament

Agreements: Texts and Histories of the Negotiations. USACDA, 1990.



U.S. Department of Defense. Soviet Military Power: 1990. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, September 1990.


U.S. Department of State. Security and Arms Control: The Search for a More Stable Peace. Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1983.


USSR Academy of Sciences. Institute of World Economy and International Relations. Disarmament and Security: l988-89 Yearbook. Moscow: Novosti, 1989.


Vienna Document: Negotiations on Confidence-And Security-Building Measures.

(Vienna: November 1990).


Waltz, Kenneth N. "The Emerging Structure of International Politics." International Security. Vol 18. No 2 (Fall l993).


____________ Theory of International Politics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979.


"Weapons in Europe After CFE." Background Paper. Washington, D.C.: The Arms

Control Association, February 1991.


Wilson, James Q. Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It.

New York: Basic Books, l989.


Join the mailing list

Unconventional Threat podcast - Threats Foreign and Domestic: 'In Episode One of Unconventional Threat, we identify and examine a range of threats, both foreign and domestic, that are endangering the integrity of our democracy'