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  Educators Course Syllabi DSS, Van Cleave-Nuclear Strategy and Arms Control

Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Southwest Missouri State University

DSS 501: Seminar on Nuclear Strategy and Arms Control


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This seminar examines contemporary U.S. and Soviet/Russian strategic nuclear arms and arms control policies and their interaction. The seminar will review the U.S. - Soviet nuclear relationship and extend this to an examination of post-U.S.S.R. Russian and American nuclear strategy and policy. The seminar will study the strategic nuclear balance, including specific problems and programs, and the strategic doctrine, concepts and objectives of the nuclear powers. Nuclear arms control between the superpowers, including the processes of decision making and negotiating, will be examined with an emphasis on comparing theory and practice.

DSS 501, SEC 1, SPRING 1997 CHEEK 124

3:00-6:00, TUE, CHEEK 170 836-4137


This seminar will examine factual, conceptual, and policy issues associated with U.S.-Soviet, U.S.-Russian, and future international nuclear weapons policies, doctrines, and objectives. Current issues of nuclear force modernization, defenses against such weapons, and strategic offense-defense relationships will be covered. The future of nuclear weapons in the policies of the United States, Russia, and other nuclear weapons states, and their role in international security affairs, will be examined. Nuclear arms control experience will also be studied with a view towards comparing theory and practice, assessing current arms control agreements, and judging the future of arms control.

The emphasis of the seminar has traditionally been in three areas: (1) The evolution, current status, and possible future development of U.S. nuclear policies and concepts, as compared with those of the Soviet Union, and now Russia; (2) the modern record of arms control, including recent and pending agreements; and (3) nuclear balances and trends, methods of analysis and comparison, and specific force program decisions. This semester, in view of changes in the former USSR, and the potential spread of nuclear weapons, we will broaden our enquiry to cover those questions and their possible impact on U.S. security.

Additionally, I would like to focus the seminar on a broader conceptual, strategic, and policy matter: The future of nuclear weapons, including changes in thinking about and planning for nuclear weapons. For nearly fifty years, the role of nuclear weapons was conceptualized in the U.S.-Soviet bipolar framework, and the study of nuclear weapons-related issues focused on the crucially important questions related to deterring a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States (or, if you insist upon being "even-handed," deterring nuclear war between the superpowers), extending nuclear deterrence to allies, controlling escalation and limiting damage in a nuclear conflict, and terminating a nuclear exchange with the USSR on terms favorable to the United States. The study of nuclear strategy, in this superpower context, evolved into issues related to countervalue and counterforce targeting, strategic and tactical nuclear force structures, systems survivability and retaliatory capability. Much of this thinking in the United States, it could be argued, was ethnocentric, and ran the potentially grave risk of transferring American values and concepts to the strategic thinking of others. Much of this needs to be rethought and applied to a somewhat different context. Studied avoidance of nuclear weapons issues is not the answer. In this seminar, I would like to deal with the future more than we have in past DSS 501 seminars.

Students will be expected to prepare themselves thoroughly for each seminar, with adequate reading and research even when the subject is not part of the student's own selected research topic. Students will also be expected to participate actively in the seminars and to demonstrate their preparation and interest. I wish to emphasize this--grades will be affected by it.

An extensive bibliography centered on this seminar will be made available, and specific reading will be assigned or suggested. It is expected that students will become acquainted with relevant official documents, such as annual Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff Reports to Congress, Congressional hearings, special official publication, and defense periodical and journal literature.

One major seminar analytical or research paper, or two shorter ones, based upon approved research topics and projects, will be required by the end of the semester. The topic(s) should be related to one of the seminar topics. During the semester, short commentaries may be assigned and surprise written quizzes are possible. The major seminar paper topic(s) will be approved on the basis of a written proposal. Students will be expected to present oral summary reports of their research and papers, according to the seminar schedule finally established. The major purpose will be to receive a constructive critique of work prior to the final paper writing.

Seminar Topics: The following are suggested topics to be discussed at the introductory Seminar and refined into a final schedule, with date, upon determination of student interests and research projects. To some extent, all of these topics will be touched upon; some may be examined more thoroughly than a single seminar. Even though this listing implies that the emphasis of the seminar will be historical, that may not be the case.

INTRODUCTION: Scope of Seminar; Initial Discussion Basic Issues

PART I: Superpower Nuclear Policies & Doctrines: 1961-1988

  • A. Review: U.S. SNF Doctrine, Concepts, and Objectives: From Ann Arbor to the "Countervailing Strategy"
  • B. SALT I and ABM; SALT II
  • C. The USSR and Nuclear Weapons
  • D. The "Window of Vulnerability" -- from Carter to Reagan
  • E. START I & II; INF Treaty
  • F. Tactical and Theater Nuclear Weapons: US & USSR, 1970-88

PART II: Contemporary Nuclear Weapons Issues, Policies, Problems

  • A. U.S. Nuclear Policies, Programs, and Arms Control: Bush and Clinton Administrations
  • B. Russian (and "CIS") Nuclear Policies and Programs
  • C. Ballistic Missile Defense and the ABM Treaty
  • D. Other Nuclear Weapons States and "Nth Country" Views and Programs
  • E. Nuclear Weapons and International Security

PART III: The future Role of Nuclear Weapons: Utilizing and Coping With

  • A. As Viewed by the United States
  • B. As Viewed by Other States
  • C. As Viewed by DSS 501


William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, Annual Report to the President and the Congress, March 1996 (Call DoD Public Affairs Office for free copy [703/697-5737]--if free copies are no longer available, order direct from the Govt. Bookstore in K.C. [816/765-2256].)

U.S. Department of Defense, Soviet Military Power and Military Forces in Transition

Peter Pry, The Strategic Nuclear Balance, Vols. 1 & 2

In addition, the following recommended books are available for purchase selectively:

  • K. Payne, Deterrence in the Second Nuclear Age ($12.25)
  • S. Sagan, Moving Targets: Nuclear Strategy and National Security
  • Department of Defense, Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements
  • C. Gray, House of Cards: Why Arms Control Must Fail($26.55)
  • C. Gray, Explorations in Strategy
  • W. T. Lee and R. Staar, Soviet Military Policy Since WWII($4.15)
  • International Institute of Strategic Studies, Military Balance, 1994-95, and 1995-96
  • Angelo Codevilla, While Others Build: A Commonsense Approach to the Strategic Defense Initiative ($26.85)
  • B. Dailey & P. Parker, eds., Soviet Strategic Deception(OP)
  • S. Cimbala & J. Douglas, eds. Ending a Nuclear War: Are the Superpowers Prepared ($16.00)
  • Missile Defense Study Team ("Team B"), Defending America: A Near and Long Term Plan to Deploy Missile Defenses, 1995, Heritage Foundation
  • Richard Staar, The New Military in Russia ($14.00)
  • Patrick Glynn, Closing Pandora's Box (OP)