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The Double GameThe Demise of America's First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation$
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James Cameron

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190459925

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190459925.001.0001

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Collapse of the Consensus and the Struggle for Coherence, 1969–1970

Collapse of the Consensus and the Struggle for Coherence, 1969–1970

(p.107) Chapter 4 Collapse of the Consensus and the Struggle for Coherence, 1969–1970
The Double Game

James Cameron

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how Richard Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, were forced to change their strategy for nuclear arms control based on the collapse of the US congressional consensus behind nuclear superiority. Nixon entered office with strong convictions on the importance of nuclear superiority for supporting the United States’ national security commitments. Nixon also saw US technological advantages in ballistic missile defenses as one of the main bargaining chips to cap the growth of Soviet offensive forces at the upcoming Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. This strategy for détente was thrown into disarray, however, when Congress signaled its lack of support for a new ballistic missile defense system and the strategy of nuclear superiority. Nixon and Kissinger then changed tack, attempting to conclude a quick arms limitation agreement through backchannel negotiations with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. This initiative failed, weakening the American hand at the formal talks.

Keywords:   Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Anatoly Dobrynin, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, Soviet Union, détente

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