Soviet Politics Of Disarmament Under Gorbachev: With Special Reference To Strategic Defense Initiative  

Abstract Category: Other Categories
Course / Degree: M.Phil
Institution / University: JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY, India
Published in: 1990

Dissertation Abstract / Summary:

The world has come a long way from the “twilight year” of 1939 when physicists, Rudolf Peirels and Otto Frisch began work on Uranium fission and concluded that an atom bomb was a practical possibility. From then on “the fate of the earth” depended on the mercy of nuclear weapons. Today we are witness to a quantitative expansion and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons. Paradoxically, the world has also been witness to years of arms control negotiations between the two superpowers.

        However, before the successful INF Treaty was signed, which called for the destruction of a whole class of nuclear weapons, the superpower negotiations seemed oddly stylized. Both sides expended their energies for eventual disarmament, while at the same time strived for security through nuclear weapons. The deterrence doctrine aggravated the situation further, by nullifying Winston Churchill’s famous dictum that safety is the sturdy child of terror.

        But, apparently, Churchill’s sturdy child may soon take birth, given the renewed vigor shown by the two superpowers to achieve disarmament. Gorbachev’s advent on the scene boosted the prospects of a global disarmament. The Soviet Union is now even more genuinely interested in arms control and disarmament, though this not to underestimate Soviet Union’s role in arms control regimes in the pre – Gorbachev era. Soviet Union took a lead in demanding a ban on nuclear weapons and the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The plea for disarmament by the Soviet Union starts with the very establishment of the Soviet State in 1917, when it was obvious to Lenin and the Bolshevik leadership that to survive and develop the Soviet Union would need peace.

        In keeping with the Leninist tradition of peaceful co-existence, Gorbachev has given the call for a world free of nuclear weapons. And, he has followed it up with a set of unilateral proposals, which has received applause from even his critics in the west. Apparently, there is a need for a cogent analysis of the present Soviet approach to the arms control regime. Hence, a comprehensive study of the various Soviet arms control and disarmament proposal in the post – 1984 period is called for. This is what the dissertation endeavors to do.

                This dissertation seeks to examine the following hypotheses so as to provide a critical analysis of the topic at hand:

1.    that the renewed interest in arms control and disarmament is mainly due to the initiatives taken by the Soviet Union;
2.    that Gorbachev’s “new thinking” and his fervent appeals to the US to enter into negotiations to halt the arms race has given a new dimension to the process of arms control mechanism;
3.    that the economic crisis in the Soviet Union is partially responsible for the unprecedented steps taken by Gorbachev in the field of arms control and disarmament;
4.    that the whether Strategic Defence Initiative Programme- which is perceived by the Soviets as a component of a “winnable” nuclear theory – would jeopardize further talks in arms control between the Soviet Union; and

5.     that there is a change in the Soviet arms control policy under Gorbachev.

The onus of the research project would be on historical – analytical study of issues involved. It will have a holistic approach – that is, an analysis of the wider issues involved. The survey of literature would bank upon both the primary and secondary sources. There is a goal behind such analysis, and, that is, to search for basic issues involved. Though, a value – free social science is a myth, yet objectivity would be maintained as far as possible. Stress would be given on dialectic to ensure the importance of divergent views and opinions and to eschew only bias in favour of particular standpoint (s). Lastly, it needs to be mentioned that the period of study would begin from the coming of Gorbachev to power.

Chapter I presents a discussion on the series of initiatives taken by Gorbachev aimed at global disarmament and arms control. The chapter begins with a presentation of Gorbachev’s novoye myshleniye (new thinking) in the field arms control negotiations and then goes on to analyze the onslaught of peace proposals put forward by Gorbachev. This is followed by an argument in favour of arms race modeling to understand the complexities of arms race.

This is followed by a chapter which examines the economic crisis in the Soviet Union and in this context analyzes why arms control is so important from the Soviet point of view. It further discusses the organic relationship between disarmament and development, and rounds of with a case for conversion of Soviet military economy.

The next chapter examines the nature of Strategic Defense Initiative. It then goes on to analyze the Soviet reaction to the “Initiative”. The chapter also tries to present a possible Soviet response and, therefore, discusses the Soviet Ballistic Missile Defence Programmes.  The examination of the Soviet “Star Peace” proposals round off the chapter.

The final chapter presents a discussion on the Soviet approach to arms controls. It analyzes the external and internal factors affecting the Soviet arms control mechanism, and the intermixing of military thinking and arms control. The chapter concludes with a discussion on Gorbachev’s new approach to arm control negotiations.

The dissertation concludes with a summary of the major findings, and the perspective that informs it.

Dissertation Keywords/Search Tags:
nuclear weapons, INF Treaty,disarmament,arms control,Strategic Defense Initiative

This Dissertation Abstract may be cited as follows:

Submission Details: Dissertation Abstract submitted by Soumen Dhar Choudhury from India on 28-Jun-2012 16:39.
Abstract has been viewed 2024 times (since 7 Mar 2010).

Soumen Dhar Choudhury Contact Details: Email: soumendhar@gmail.com

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