UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY





“THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOUGHSHARES:”1 THE FAILURE OF EARLY SOVIET
ATTEMPTS TO REACH AN INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENT ON DISARMAMENT (1948-1964)





HI367: HISTORY OF IMPERIAL AND SOVIET RUSSIA

HOUR J

PROFESSOR GRETA BUCHER





BY

CADET ANDREW S. GLENN ’04, COMPANY B-1





12 MARCH 2003

WEST POINT NEW YORK
 
     Following the end of the Second World War, the world entered the final
phase of what Philip Bobbitt has coined “The Long War,”  lasting from 1949
until 1990.  This phase of the war was fought between the two remaining
constitutional systems, communism and parliamentarianism, and their respective
champions, the Soviet Union and the United States.  Two overriding strategic
objectives of both states were nuclear deterrence and compellance.  As early as
the 1950s, however, the Soviet Union had proposed talks on disarmament.  If
both countries feared mutual annihilation, then history must beg the
question, “Why did early attempts made by the Soviet Union to disarm fail?”
The Soviet Union’s vision of a more peaceful world, void of the fear of nuclear
annihilation, was shattered by the threats, hostilities, and unwillingness to
cooperate of the Western powers—led by the United States.
     In deciding that it was indeed the West that propagated the arms race,
destroying Soviet attempts to reduce arms and promote peace, we must first
determine that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) made an honest
bid for disarmament.  Disarmament comprised a vast portion of Soviet foreign
policy from the founding to the dissolution of the USSR.  In a letter to the
governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States, China, and
Japan, the Russian government declared its position on disarmament, stating
that it [the Government of Russia] “can only welcome any disarmament or
reduction of military expenditures, a heavy burden for the working people in
all countries.”   It is in keeping with this tradition that, following the end
of the Second World War, the Soviet government submitted multiple resolutions
and proposed drafts of treaties outlining plans for disarmament and for control
of weapons developments by an international organization.  
     Beginning with the proliferation of atomic weaponry in the United States,
the USSR began—with renewed vigor—her push for international controls and
disarmament.  In 1946, the USSR proposed to the United Nations a draft, the
first made by the Soviet government, on prohibition of atomic weapons.  The
First Article of this draft espoused that no signatory was to use atomic
weapons—under any circumstance.  It espoused the prohibition of production and
storage of atomic weapons within all signing states, and the destruction of all
stockpiled atomic weapons.  The Second Article declares that any violation of
the First shall be considered “a very grave international crime against
humanity.”   With this strong rhetoric, the Soviet Union entered the second
half of the Long War with a policy marked by the paradoxical duality of
preaching disarmament but practicing proliferation and development.  Eight days
shy of a year later, the USSR delegation to the UN Atomic Energy Commission
submitted a follow-on proposal.  This proposal outlined the necessity for and
means of creating an International Control Commission to monitor the
development of atomic energy programs and ensure that no new weapons were
developed.   These two documents show the crux of the Soviet strategy for
reaching the peaceful solution of disarmament.  The government sought
prohibition and destruction of atomic weapons and an international organization
to oversee the process.
     Further Soviet proposals followed the two aforementioned drafts for the
next decade and a half.  In 1948, the USSR Delegation to the UN General
Assembly submitted a scathing resolution decrying the inactivity of the United
Nations regarding previous resolutions on arms reductions.  Again, this
proposal sought to destroy atomic weapons.  It also proposed to reduce
conventional forces (by one-third).   In November 1952, the United States
tested the prototype hydrogen bomb on the Pacific island Elugelab.  August 12,
1953, the Soviet government tested its first thermonuclear device, which Honoré
M. Catudal tells us that the Soviet authorities claimed was the first real test
of a hydrogen bomb, as “the November 1952 U.S. test of a 60-ton thermonuclear
device was not a deliverable weapon.”   Nonetheless, the USSR kept up with the
United States as both states continued the arms race.  Despite their commitment
to preserving the existing international structure and balance of power, the
Soviet government maintained its stance on disarmament.  On 20 August 1953, the
Soviet Union put forth a declaration reaffirming their policy of disarmament
and encouraging other countries to accept their proposals on arms limitations
and reductions.   The Soviet government continued its efforts, publishing
proposals similar to previous ones in 1954 , 1957 , and 1958 . 
     Perhaps the USSR’s strongest bid for disarmament during this early stage
came in 1959 with the “Declaration of the Soviet Government on General and
Complete Disarmament.”   The declaration uses powerful language to promote its
strong message: “General and complete disarmament is the way to save mankind
from the scourge of war.”   The authors of the declaration reassert their
foreign policy, based on the assumption that it was possible to prevent similar
developments to those that had previously led to the First and Second World
Wars.   The declaration also continues to propose steps to be taken in order to
reach general and complete disarmament over a period of time.   Finally, the
distinct characteristic that sets this declaration apart from all previous
attempts by the Soviet Union to find an agreement on disarmament is the partial
disarmament clause.  This clause, not found in any other document prior to
this, made provisions for a partial disarmament—should the West prove unwilling
and refuse complete disarmament.  
     The period following the end of the Second World War until 1964 was filled
with Soviet measures to limit the arms race and reach an agreement on general
and complete disarmament.  Nikita Khrushchev, following in the footsteps of
Josef Stalin, championed the ideas of a world free from weapons.   Under these
two men’s administrations, the West was faced with a great number of proposals,
declarations, and treaties attempting to reach an agreement on complete and
general disarmament.  It was a standard in Soviet foreign policy, during this
time, to seek the end of war through the above-stated means
     Despite their repeated and strong attempts at reaching international
agreements, the Soviet Union failed to see the actualization of the complete
and general disarmament.  Not only did the USSR fail in disarmament, but the
Soviet Union continued to proliferate many conventional and mass annihilation
weapons during the height of her power.  
     Gary Bertsch and William Potter wrote, in their introduction to Dangerous
Weapons, Desperate States, about the threat posed by the inheritance of nuclear
weapons that the new independent states received from the crumbling Soviet
Union.   Bertsch and Potter continued: “Russia alone inherited approximately
30,000 nuclear weapons, hundreds of tons of fissile material, 40,000 tons of
chemical weapons, significant biological weapons capability.”   Obviously, the
USSR proliferated these weapons prior to the 1990 Peace of Paris.
     Dallin reported more examples of the proliferation of weapons.  In 1953,
the Soviet Union tested their first thermonuclear device.   In 1957, the first
Sputnik satellite rocketed from Baikonur Cosmodrome (97).  In 1961, the USSR
began a “massive series of nuclear weapons tests,” including the detonation of
a 58-Megaton device (98).  A year later, the Soviet government positioned
nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba, igniting the Cuban missile crisis (98). 
Dallin’s estimates state that by 1964, the Soviet Union had around 100
intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) (100).   Each of these actions are
a step along the path of militarism and proliferation—the “arms’ race” as it
became known.
     The Soviet Union was not alone in continuing proliferation and build-ups
of conventional as well as mass destruction weapons; The United States matched
in some areas and led in others, the race for weaponry.  In Dallin’s side-by
side comparison of capabilities in 1964, the United States led in numbers of
ICBMs, naval ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers.   Both superpowers
continued to research and develop weapons. 
     Proliferation was a global phenomenon, not limited to only the two
superpowers.  Britain, France, and China all developed nuclear capabilities by
1964.   This global proliferation, or arms’ race, is indicative of the Soviet
government’s failure to reach international agreements
     These efforts failed primarily as a result of the Western world’s posture,
held most notably by the United States.  The United States assumed a hawkish
stance and pushed the Soviet Union towards war.  Malenkov, during his
premiership and short tenure as party secretary, responded to the Truman
Doctrine and the Marshall Plan declaring that “the ruling clique of the
American imperialists… has chosen the path of hatching new war plans against
the Soviet Union and the new democracies.”   This statement was not overly
outlandish.  The United States, and the rest of the parliamentarianist West,
launched a war against the USSR on politico-diplomatic, economic, and military
fronts.
     The first engagement of the Cold War occurred by 1947.  Communist
governments had been set up in Eastern European countries including Poland,
Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.  Furthermore, the Soviet occupied zone of
Germany saw increased socialist and communist activities.  In 1948, an internal
coup d’état allowed for communists to gain control of Czechoslovakia.  In
response to the growing political influence of the Soviet Union, the Western
allies refused to allow for the reunification of Germany as originally
intended.  Instead, the Allies set up parliamentary institutions in the western
zones of Germany, essentially creating a new state.  The Cold War would have
ended with the reunification of Germany and the United States’ acceptance of
Communism as a legitimate constitutional order in Europe, but the United States
chose at this pivotal moment to pressure the USSR. 
     Germany proved to be a hotbed for conflict and crises during the Cold
War.  While engaged in the Korean War, the United States sought to actively
rearm the Federal Republic of Germany.  The United States took the role of the
hawk pressing the Soviet government.  The Paris protocols of 1954, between the
Federal Republic and the Western allies, allowed for the rearmament of West
Germany with conventional weapons.  The USSR dodged conflict by proposing
peaceful settlements.  The Soviets responded seeking the disarmament and
creation of neutral buffer states in both the German Democratic Republic and
the Federal Republic of Germany. 
     Germany did not sit alone as the sole place where the West tried to push
the Soviet government.  Truman supported militants in Turkey and Greece,
creating the precedent that would be legitimized, ex post facto, by the Truman
Doctrine.  In 1962, a United States U-2 spy plane was shot down in the Soviet
Union.  The Marshall plan provided for the economic recovery, and subsequent
economic closeness, of many European states—to prevent the Soviet sphere of
influence from expanding.
     Militarism and the push for war resounded in the voices of America’s
leaders.  George Keenan, “Mr. X,” served as a diplomatic envoy to Moscow in
1945 and 1946.  During this time, he provided the State Department with long
correspondence outlining his analysis of the Soviet government.  Kennan
declared that the combination of Stalinist politics and Marxist ideology
created a dangerous state that could not be trusted.  Kennan proposed the
implementation of containment and greatly shaped American foreign policy during
this time.   Truman, influenced by Kennan, issued the Truman Doctrine in a
style reflecting the ideas of his mentor.  Truman announced that it would be
the policy of the United States government to assist revolutionary movements
that supported parliamentarianism.  In essence, he declared war on Communism
sans war declarations. 
     Senator Barry Goldwater stated that the United States needed to be
stronger militarily.  On 23 September 1964, he pushed for this saying that
should the Federal Government continue to spend less than half the budget on
defense, or should it cut spending (as proposed by the contemporary
administration), that the United States would wither to second-rate status and
that the Communist forces would then be able to threaten peace across the globe
with impunity. 
     Perhaps the most important voice opposing Soviet attempts at disarmament
was Bernard Baruch, the United States representative to the United Nations
Atomic Energy Commission.  Baruch pierced the Soviet’s efforts when he
declared: “Don’t let us be the first to disarm!… We must be strong.”   The
Baruch Plan envisaged an international commission that would put the
development and production of nuclear energy programs as well as nuclear
weapons under United States’ control.   Baruch called for a world under the
domination of United States’ military power.
     The voices of these political leaders resonated with the political
ideology of militarism and war, not of peace.  The actions of the United States
government, similar to the voices of its leaders, depicted an aura of distrust,
fear, and warmongering.  The extremism of the West, represented and led by the
United States, sought to push the Soviet government when possible and desired
to continue building up war arsenals.  The United States government had no
desire to disarm and consequently rejected Soviet proposals on disarmament
     The Soviet Union made multiple efforts to reach an international agreement
on disarmament between 1945 and 1964, which all met with the same disastrous
fate.  They failed, as evidenced by the continued military build-ups in Soviet,
American, second-world, and eventually third-world countries.  The were not
successful because the Western parliamentarianists, under the tutelage and
direction of the United States, rejected such possible agreements instead
favoring a push for war, albeit a cold war.  Therefore, it may be said that
during this time period the United States’ foreign policy prohibited the
passage of any Soviet document that would make serious strides towards
disarmament.
     
     
 
NOTES
     1.  Isaiah 2:4, The Bible, King James Version.


     2.  Bobbitt asserts that the Long War began in 1914 and lasted until 1990,
ending with the Peace of Paris.  The Long War was an epochal war, similar to
the Thirty Years’ War and the Peloponnesian War, fought between three
constitutional orders (Parliamentarianism, Communism, and Fascism) that sought
to replace the Imperialist constitutional order of the nineteenth century. 
Philip Bobbitt, The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History
(New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002), Part I. 


     3.  “Excerpt from the Note by the Government of the RSFSR to the
Governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States, China and
Japan,” 19 July 1921, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s), compiled by
Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), 30.

     4.  “Draft International Convention on the Prohibition of the Production
and Use of Weapons Based on Employing Atomic Energy for Mass Destruction,” 19
June 1946, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s), compiled by Ye.
Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), 106

      5.  “Proposals Concerning Atomic Energy Controls,” 11 June 1947, The USSR
Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s), compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov
(Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), 109-112.

     6.  “Proposal Banning Atomic Weapons and Reducing by One-Third the
Armaments and Armed Forces of the United States of America, Great Britain, the
USSR, France and China, the Permanent Members of the Security Council,” 25
September 1948, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s), compiled by Ye.
Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), 113-114.

     7.  Honoré M. Catudal, Soviet Nuclear Strategy from Stalin to Gorbachev: A
Revolution in Soviet Military and Political Thinking (Atlantic Highlands, NJ:
Humanities Press International, INC., 1989), 36.

     8.  “The USSR Government’s Statement on the Testing of a Hydrogen Bomb in
the Soviet Union,” 20 August 1953, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s),
compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986),
115-116.

     9. In 1954, the USSR submitted this declaration seeking a very broad
consensus among the five countries comprising the permanent members of the
United Nations Security Council renouncing all weapons of mass
destruction.  “Draft Declaration by the Governments of the United States,
Britain, France, the People’s Republic of China and the USSR on the
Unconditional Renunciation of the Use of Atomic, Hydrogen, and Other Kinds of
Mass Destruction Weapons,” 30 January 1954, The USSR Proposes Disarmament
(1920s-1980s), compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress
Publishers, 1986), 117.

     10.  The Soviet Union proposed a complete end to testing atomic and
hydrogen weapons.  “Draft Resolution on the Cessation of Atomic and Hydrogen
Weapons Tests,” 17 January 1957, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s),
compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986),
118.

     11.  The Soviet government offered several ideas in this document: (1)
U.S. President Eisenhower’s proposal to end ICBMs was not sufficient, (2) A ban
on using space for weapons testing was needed, (3) A need for the elimination
of foreign bases, (4) and (5) discuss the need for, and practical
implementation, of control measures.  “Proposal by the Soviet Government on the
Question of the Banning of the Use of Outer Space for Military Purposes, the
Elimination of Foreign Bases on the Territories of Other Countries, and
International Co-operation in the Exploration of Outer Space,” 15 March 1958,
The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s), compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S.
Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986), 119-124.

     12.  “Declaration of the Soviet Government on General and Complete
Disarmament,” 18 September 1959, The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s),
compiled by Ye. Potyarkin and S. Kortunov (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986),
128-144.

     13.  Ibid., 128.

     14.  Ibid., 131.

     15.  Ibid., 139-142.

     16.  Ibid., 143.

     17.  Thomas B. Larson, Disarmament and Soviet Policy, 1964-1968,
(Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, INC., 1969), 1-5.

     18.  Gary K. Bertsch and William C. Potter, ed., “The Challenge of NIS
Export Control Development,” Dangerous Weapons, Desperate States, (New York and
London: Routledge, 1999), 3.

     19.  Ibid.

     20.  Alexander Dallin, The Soviet Union and Disarmament: an Appraisal of
Soviet Attitudes and Intentions, (New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers,
1964), 105.

     21.  Dallin also provided a chart of comparative military strength between
the Western Alliances and the Communist Bloc, as of 1964.  Ibid., 101.

     22.  The United States possessed 800 ICBMs, 250 naval ballistic missiles,
and 700 long-range bombers.  Compare to the USSR’s 200 ICBMs, 100 naval
ballistic missiles, and 200 long-range bombers.  Ibid., 101.
 
     23.  These three states developed and tested atomic weapons in 1952, 1960,
and 1964 respectively.

     24.  G. M. Malenkov, September 22, 194, quoted in Bobbitt, 47.

     25.  Bobbitt, 46.

     26.  Jack M. Schick, The Berlin Crisis: 1958-1962, (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), 3.

     27.  George Kennan, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct,” in Foreign Affairs,
Vol. XXV, July 1947, pp. 566-582, reprinted in Walter Lafeber, America in the
Cold War: Twenty Years of Revolutions and Response, 1947-1967, (New York and
London: John Wiley and Sons, INC., 1969), 35-48.
     
     28.  Public Papers of the Presidents… Harry S. Truman… 1947, (Washington,
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1963), 176-180.  Reprinted in Lafeber, 49-55.

     29.  Barry Goldwater, Speech of September 23, 1964, in Walter Lafeber,
America in the Cold War: Twenty Years of Revolutions and Response, 1947-1967,
(New York and London: John Wiley and Sons, INC., 1969), 8-10.

     30.  Bernard M. Baruch, The Public Years, (New York: Pocket Books, INC.,
1962), 363.  Reprinted in The USSR Proposes Disarmament, 100.

     31.  Ibid., 100; see also Morris V. Rosenbloom, Peace through Strength:
Bernard Baruch and a Blueprint for Security, (Washington, D.C. and New York:
American Surveys in association with Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953), 257-291.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bobbitt, Philip.  The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of
History.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.

     Mr. Bobbitt is a professor of constitutional law and an expert on nuclear
strategy.  He introduces several key ideas about nuclear strategy in this book,
from which I have been able to gain a basic understanding of both US and USSR
strategic aims.

Calingaert, Daniel.  Soviet Nuclear Policy Under Gorbachev: A Policy of
Disarmament.  New York.  Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., 1991.

     Mr. Calingaert’s book views the nuclear policy under Gorbachev, a vastly
different one from the policy under Stalin.  There are, however, important
lessons to be taken from Mr. Calingaert’s work.  Gorbachev was certainly a
product of earlier nuclear strategy and we see the effects of earlier attempts
to disarm affect his decisions and policy in the 1980s.  Consequently, this
book will provide a semi-historiographical view of attempts at disarmament

Catudal, Honore M.  Soviet Nuclear Strategy From Stalin to Gorbachev: A
Revolution in Soviet Military and Political Thinking.  Atlantic Highlands, NJ. 
Humanities Press International, Inc.,  1989.

     Mr. Catudal’s work shows the evolution of Soviet nuclear strategy from the
time when the first nuclear weapons were possessed until Gorbachev’s election. 
He covers extensively the early period of the Soviet nuclear age and attempts
to look at the policies of nuclear strategy from a Soviet perspective.  This
book will be important in understanding the origin of the Soviet nuclear
program and strategy.

Dallin, Alexander.  The Soviet Union and Disarmament: An Appraisal of Soviet
Attitudes and Intentions.  New York.  Frederick A. Praeger, Inc., 1963.

     Mr. Dallin compiled and prepared a report, based on the studies at the
Russian Institute of Columbia University under contract with the United States
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, regarding Soviet attitudes towards
disarmament until 1964—the end of the Khrushchev age.  This source will be
useful in determining a specific view of Soviet attitudes, progressive and
defensive, towards disarmament following the Second World War.

Jensen, Lloyd.  “Soviet-American Bargaining Behavior in the Postwar Disarmament
Negotiations.”  The Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 7, no. 3, Weapons
Management in World Politics: Proceedings of the International Arms Control
Symposium, December, 1962. (Sep., 1963): 522-541.

     Mr. Jensen explores the negotiations that actually occurred during the
early parts of the Cold War between the two superpowers over disarmament,
emphasizing the concessions each side was willing to make.  I will use this
article to explore why the United States was unwilling to accept the Soviet
Union’s proposed concessions during the bargaining.

Lafeber, Walter.  America in the Cold War: Twenty Years of Revolutions and
Response, 1947-1967.  New York and London: John Wiley and Sons, INC., 1969.

     Mr. Lafeber provides a collection of primary documents and transcriptions
of speeches from the time period.  I will use this book as a source to better
understand the United States’ political leaders’ stances towards the Cold War.

Rosenbloom, Morris V.  Peace through Strength: Bernard Baruch and a Blueprint
for Security.  Washington, D.C., and New York: American Surveys in association
with Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953.

     Mr. Rosenbloom provides a biography on Bernard Baruch paying particularly
close attention to his interaction with the development of security policies
and nuclear strategy.  I will use this to increase understanding of the
political leaders’ stances on war and the Soviet Union.

Schick, Jack M.  The Berlin Crisis, 1958-1962.  Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1971.

     Mr. Schick’s book discusses the importance of Berlin during the early
stages of the Cold War.  Furthermore, he clearly outlines and details the
history of the events that occurred regarding the city.  I will use this book
to view United States culpability in pressuring the Soviet Union in Germany.

The USSR Proposes Disarmament (1920s-1980s).  Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1986.

     This book provides multiple primary sources from the 1920s until the early
1980s on disarmament.  Specifically there are multiple proposals documented,
from the period immediately following World War II on atomic disarmament.  I
will use this source to gain an understanding of the Soviet perspective on
atomic weapons and the overall tone towards disarmament.