Sunday, November 28, 2021

Michael Krepon's "Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace"

Michael Krepon co-founded the Stimson Center in 1989 and worked previously in the executive branch and on Capitol Hill. He has taught as a professor of practice at the University of Virginia and received the Carnegie Endowment’s award for lifetime achievement in non-governmental work to reduce nuclear dangers in 2015. Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace: The Rise, Demise, and Revival of Arms Control is Krepon's twenty-third book. Most of his previous books were collaborative efforts resulting from Stimson programming.

Krepon applied the “Page 99 Test” to Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace and reported the following:
My new book is a history of nuclear arms control. Page 99 will give readers a flavor of how I write, but you’ll need to read the whole work to get the complete story. Page 99 finds us at the Glassboro summit during the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration. LBJ and his Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara are trying to convince Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin to begin strategic arms limitation talks:
The luncheon discussion was rushed and not worthy of the topic. Kosygin, part of a collective leadership, wasn’t empowered to make a decision, in any event. Llewellyn Thompson was dispatched once more to Moscow to deliver the message that the United States was willing to send a high-level delegation to Moscow to begin preliminary discussions. He was to lead the U.S. delegation, but was left cooling his heels. Thompson conveyed three subsequent messages from Washington, but there was still no reply.

The decision to begin strategic arms control talks tied the Kremlin into knots. Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin raised one important concern with Secretary of State Dean Rusk: What, exactly, did the United States want to achieve? Superiority? Or would Washington accept parity? Rusk was evasive.
History never repeats itself exactly, but it always brings us to the present. This vignette, now over five decades old, is again about to unfold vis-à-vis China. Like the Soviet Union in 1967, China is expanding rapidly its nuclear forces, partly in anticipation of the onset of strategic arms control talks with the United States. China’s build up will force the Biden administration to confront difficult choices in defining U.S. negotiating objectives. Whatever Biden decides to do, he can expect a domestic backlash. I discuss this in my concluding chapter.
Learn more about Winning and Losing the Nuclear Peace at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue