Why Is Secretary Baker Making Arms Control Concessions To Moscow?

The Center for Security Policy today called into question the strategy and assumptions underpinning Secretary of State James Baker’s highly publicized offer of still further arms control concessions to Moscow. In a just-released analysis entitled At What Price Arms Control Agreements?, the Center addresses serious risks associated with the Bush Administration’s evident determination to obtain new arms pacts at virtually any cost.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., the Center’s director, said in issuing this paper, "Secretary Baker’s headlong rush to finish a bevy of unverifiable, strategically dubious agreements is particularly remarkable for its political shortsightedness — a quality not often associated with a man principally known for his savoir faire in the world of politics."

Gaffney added, "The reality is that the Gorbachev regime is rapidly becoming an ever less attractive partner for the United States as its true character is revealed in repression and economic coercion at home and increased assertiveness abroad, for example in Germany, Angola and Afghanistan. Agreements with such a regime, clearly arrived at under artificial time pressures if not other forms of duress and at the expense of important U.S. security interests, are unlikely to impart to Mr. Baker and the Administration he serves the sort of sustained political support the Secretary evidently expects."

The Center’s analysis addresses the remarkable changes that have taken place in the Bush Administration’s assumptions about Gorbachev’s future prospects — notably a 180 degree change in the assessed prospects for perestroika’s success — with no apparent affect on the arms control policy it is pursuing. At What Price Arms Control Agreements? also critically examines the naive contention central to the Administration’s approach, namely that no matter what happens in the USSR, the United States will be better off having agreed to an array of questionable arms control agreements.

The Center recommends a series of steps that would improve the prospects for sound arms control agreements. In the final analysis, however, it believes that a far more sure means of providing for the future security of the United States and its allies is to bring about the urgent, radical transformation of the Soviet political and economic system. Specifically, instead of making preservation of Gorbachev and pursuit of arms control pacts the driving forces behind U.S.-Soviet relations, such an approach would entail channeling American political and economic assistance and diplomatic support to those demanding structural reforms — not those, like Gorbachev, ever more forcefully resisting such genuine democratic change.

Copies of At What Price Arms Control Agreements? may be obtained by contacting the Center.

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