Chapter 6 – Carter’s “Détente” Confusion, Soviet Violations, and Catalysts for Change - 1977 to 1981

“Team B” and Other Intelligence Warnings—December 1976. In addition to such data-filled unclassified official publications as those above, a highly classified “Team B” Report was completed in December 1976, a month before Carter took office. The report, titled “Soviet Strategic Objectives—An Alternative View,” is reviewed and extensively cited in Chapter 5 above on presidents Nixon and Ford. It provided exceptionally important facts and insights that should have been a “must” read for Carter and his national security team as a primer on aggressive Soviet Cold War objectives, doctrines, programs, and practices. A declassified, official redacted, copy of the report is in this book’s Internet Document Library. While particularly important to understanding the dangerous core Cold War realities confronting the United States, it was essentially ignored by the policies set by Jimmy Carter and his team.

Downplaying Soviet Offensive Nuclear “First Strike” Developments, Intermediate Nuclear Force Asymmetries, and Strategic Defense. Throughout his presidency to the year of his reelection campaign in 1980 which he lost to Ronald Reagan, Carter downplayed the serious implications of the unprecedented unilateral Soviet strategic offensive force buildup and “first strike” capabilities. As detailed in Chapter 12 on Reagan’s new U.S. strategic force policies, the Soviet buildup during the Nixon through Carter presidencies included eighteen new or modernized Soviet strategic systems (compared to four such systems for the U.S.) most notably new, rapidly deliverable hard-target kill capabilities against increasingly vulnerable U.S. and Allied deterrent forces and territory. In the area of strategic defense (see Chapter 13), the U.S. clearly needed to reduce the Soviet first-strike threat, but instead continued Ford’s shutdown of U.S. anti-ballistic missile (ABM) deployments and further reduced research permitted under the ABM Treaty of 1972. The Soviet Union meanwhile modernized its major ABM deployments and increased its investments in advanced ABM research and development.

Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF). For INF, reviewed in detail in Chapter 11 on Reagan’s INF strategy, a new Soviet nuclear first-strike threat comparable to that from its strategic force began as Carter entered office. Each week the Soviet Union was deploying three new, triple-warhead SS–20 INF missiles that brought an order-of-magnitude increase in the threat against the U.S. and its Allies in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. The SS–20s added to older INF missiles, to the regionally oriented Soviet Backfire bombers and to expanding Soviet conventional (and chemical) force superiority in Europe and pointed to intensified Kremlin intimidation and blackmail objectives. While Carter authorized U.S. participation in NATO’s 1979 “Double Track” decision on either INF arms control or Western INF counter-deployments, he blocked U.S. funding for NATO’s Pershing II and Ground-launched Cruise Missile “catch-up” programs and failed to press the compelling case against the Soviet SS–20s, Backfire bombers, and massive conventional and chemical force buildups also relevant to NATO’s INF decision.

The Library of Congress’ Collins Report—1977. An extraordinarily comprehensive and widely distributed unclassified report known as the Collins Report on American and Soviet Armed Services, Strengths Compared, 1970–1976 (one of a series of four), is reproduced in this book’s Internet Document Library as entered by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) into the Congressional Record on August 5, 1977. The report was prepared by John Collins, a senior defense specialist at the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress with the strong support of Congressmen Jack Kemp (R-NY) and Bill Chappell (D-FL), Senator Jesse Helms, and others who sought comprehensive, accurate data and “net assessments” on the U.S. and Soviet programs. The report begins with a citation from President Ford’s Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger that: “Everybody is entitled to his own views: everybody is not entitled to his own facts,” a phrase attributed to the Papal encyclical Pacem in Terra issued by Pope John XIII on April 11, 1963. The Collins report became a primary source document for defense assessments prepared by independent national security institutions and Collins provided numerous additional updates and briefings.

Other Collins’ Reports to 1980. Though not welcome by the Carter Administration, the 1977 report was the second such Collins document requested from the Library of Congress by the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate, with the first one published by the CRS in January 1976 under the title “United States/Soviet Military Balance: A Frame of Reference for Congress.” A third requested update was published in 1978 through the Georgetown Strategic Studies Center. The final report in the series, issued in July 1980, was a commercially published book of over 600 pages titled “U.S.-Soviet Military Balance: Concepts and Capabilities 1960–1980.” It was encyclopedic in its scope, authoritative sourcing, and professionally derived net assessments vetted by numerous named U.S. defense and intelligence professionals. During the U.S. election year 1980 the book became a much-cited source of authoritative information on the global, regional, and programmatic facts and

[Book pg. 126]