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Interview with Richard Perle, 1987 [2]

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Summary
Richard Perle was an aide to U.S. senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson from 1969 to 1980 and assistant secretary of defense from 1981 to 1987. In the interview he discusses Senator Jackson’s position during the SALT I and II negotiations. Although Jackson vote for SALT I and the ABM Treaty in Congress, Perle notes that he did not support them completely, and goes on to point out the flaws with both. He argues against Nixon and Kissinger’s policy of detente, which he felt was unsound. He disputes claims that Jackson has authority over firing the SALT I team or hiring the SALT II team. He discusses the Jackson-Vanik amendment, including Kissinger’s reaction to it. He also criticizes Kissinger handling of SALT II. He discusses the MIRV ban proposal, and it’s failure.
Topics
United States. Congress, Democratic Party (U.S.), Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II, Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM), Watergate Affair, 1972-1974, Nuclear arms control, Nuclear weapons, Antimissile missiles, Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles
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Transcript

WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE – TAPES E07001-E07002 RICHARD PERLE [2]

Senator Jackson's Understanding of the SALT I Treaty

Interviewer:
I THINK I'M GOING TO PLUNGE RIGHT INTO THE SAFEGUARDS DEBATE IN 1969 AND '70. WHAT WAS SENATOR JACKSON'S FEELING ABOUT THE SAFEGUARD ABM PROGRAM, WHETHER HE SUPPORTED IT AND WHY?
Perle:
Senator Jackson was a keen supporter of the safeguard anti-ballistic missile defense program, and in fact, I think, had it not been for Scoop's adroit management of the issue in the Senate, it would never have been approved.
Interviewer:
WAS HE SORT OF GOING OUT ON A LIMB TO DEFEND THAT PROGRAM ON BEHALF OF PRESIDENT NIXON WHEN A LOT OF HIS COLLEAGUES WERE SO ADAMANTLY AGAINST IT?
Perle:
Well, as a Democrat, it was not the most comfortable position to be in, but Scoop Jackson was the most unpartisan, non-partisan senator I've ever known, where issues of national security were concerned. He believed that it was ahistoric to continue without any defense whatsoever, that sooner or later there would be defenses, that the United States ought not to be behind in their deployment, that safeguard was about the best technology we could manage at the time, and a good place to start. And he didn't care much that that was not the predominant view within the Democratic Party, and in fact he succeeded in bringing a great many Democrats along with him and without that coalition which he was, in which he was the center it would not have survived a test in the Senate when in 1969 it was approved by a single vote.
Interviewer:
DID HE FEEL A LITTLE BETRAYED BY IT BEING TRADED AWAY AT SALT I?
Perle:
He was unhappy with the outcome of the SALT I agreement. I wouldn't say that he felt betrayed by... I'm sorry, I've left Scoop out again. Senator Jackson felt that the SALT I agreement was a poor agreement, and not in the security interests of the United States. He voted for it. But he only voted for it after the resolution supporting it was amended to provide that future agreements would provide for equality between the United States and the Soviet Union. So he didn't like the offensive arms agreement, the interim agreement reached in 1972. He voted for the ABM Treaty without serious reservation; he thought that was a reasonable treaty at the time, although he never interpreted it to mean that it was desirable to be vulnerable to attack by the Soviet Union. He didn't turn it into an ideology. I don't think he felt betrayed by the decision to abandon defenses. He did think it was unwise, having negotiated one site which came subsequently, to make that one site around the national capital, because he thought that that was unwise and wouldn't be approved, and in effect it meant we would have no defense at all.
Interviewer:
COULD YOU REPEAT THE LAST PART OF THAT? STARTING WITH THE DEFENSE SITE AROUND WASHINGTON. SAYING SENATOR JACKSON...
Perle:
Senator Jackson thought it unwise, if we were entitled to only one defensive site, to place it around the national capital, around Washington, and he was convinced that the decision to do that meant that there would be no defense at all. And of course he was right.
Interviewer:
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE LIMITED OFFENSIVE AGREEMENT? THE NEGOTIATORS AND HENRY KISSINGER ARGUED THAT IT WAS FINE BECAUSE THE FORCES WERE ASYMMETRIC AND OUR BOMBER FORCES, WHICH WERE FAR SUPERIOR, WERE NOT RESTRICTED, AND THERE WERE OTHER ADVANTAGES WE HAD. AND WE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF BARGAINING LEVERAGE BECAUSE THEY HAD AN ONGOING PROGRAM, AND WE DIDN'T. WE WERE BETTER OFF STOPPING IT SOMEWHERE THAN LETTING IT GO. WHAT WAS SENATOR JACKSON'S FEELING ABOUT THAT?
Perle:
Well, Senator Jackson was highly critical of the interim agreement on offensive arms: he was amused by Henry Kissinger, on the one hand maintaining that it was the best we could do given the scant leverage we had, and on the other hand arguing that it was a profound victory for the United States. It was not a profound victory for the United States -- it was an unbalanced lopsided agreement in which the Soviets were entitled to higher levels of weapons than the United States. In the areas in which the Soviets had an advantage, that advantage was frozen in the agreement; in the areas where the United States had an advantage, the competition was permitted to go forward under the terms of the agreement, so it was simply a matter of time before the American advantages that were claimed to offset the Soviet advantages would be eroded by Soviet developments. And that, of course, is what happened with the result that years later, one could look back at that agreement and see in it the beginning of a radical shift in the nuclear balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. I think it's significant that some of those involved in that SALT I negotiating experience, eventually, with the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, concluded that it had not been a good agreement: I know that's Paul Nitze's view.
Interviewer:
I ASSUME THAT WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT AREAS THAT WERE TO AMERICA'S ADVANTAGE THAT WEREN'T FROZEN, YOU'RE SPEAKING ABOUT THE MIRV PROGRAM. COULD YOU RESTATE THAT AND USE THE SPECIFIC PROGRAM?
Perle:
Yes, the SALT I interim agreement permitted competition to continue in some areas where the United States was ahead. We were ahead of the Soviets in the deployment of multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles, but the treaty allowed the Soviets to deploy MIRVs. Where the Soviets were ahead in numbers of submarines, for example, the treaty froze the submarine level and thereby froze the United States in a permanent inferiority.
Interviewer:
NOW IN THE DECISION TO GO INTO SALT NEGOTIATIONS, HOW DID SENATOR JACKSON FEEL ABOUT THIS IDEA THAT WE WERE GOING TO ENTER INTO NEGOTIATIONS WHICH WERE BASICALLY GOING TO RATIFY OR CONDONE A SITUATION OF PARITY BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND THE SOVIET UNION? DID HE FEEL THAT IT WAS UNWISE TO DO THAT, AND MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE PUSHED AHEAD WITH OUR TECHNOLOGICAL SUPERIORITY AND NOT GIVEN THEM THE CREDIBILITY OF BEING AN EQUAL POWER?
Perle:
Senator Jackson never quarreled with the concept that the Soviet Union was a superpower in the same and distinct class as the United States. But he believed that our advantage in anti-ballistic missile defenses, the ability rapidly to commence deployment of the safeguard ABM system could be used in the course of negotiations to obtain significant restraint on the momentum of the Soviet strategic offensive build-up. I know he thought it was a fatal mistake to conclude the ABM Treaty before we had any firm outline of a conclusion to the negotiations on offensive arms. It was the sort of mistake that a careful negotiator would not make. He also believed that...
Interviewer:
CAN YOU START "SENATOR JACKSON?"
Perle:
Okay? Senator Jackson also believed that the SALT I interim agreement focused on the wrong things; it limited the wrong things; it limited the numbers of launchers for ballistic missiles, for example. But it was either silent or ineffective and vague on the issue of what kinds of weapons one could place in those silos. And he correctly anticipated that the growth in Soviet strategic forces would come, not through the construction of additional missile silos, but through the improvement of the missiles placed in those launchers, buried in the ground. And in fact in October of 1970, he sent Henry Kissinger a secret memorandum, which said, "You are headed down the wrong path; you are restraining the number of launchers, but within the number of launchers the Soviets would be permitted under the agreement you are negotiating, they could treble their effective forces by resorting to better missiles, improved fuels, lighter alloys, new launch techniques, and multiple warheads." That is exactly what happened. The Soviets did all of those things: better fuels, new alloys, new launch techniques, with the result that they more than trebled their effective ballistic missile forces, within the total number of launchers that was agreed.
Interviewer:
I JUST WANT TO CLARIFY ONE THING: WHEN I ASKED ABOUT THE PARITY-SUPERIORITY ISSUE, I THINK WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS THAT HE THOUGHT THAT WE WEREN'T GOING IN THERE TO GIVE UP OUR LEAD AND ACCEPT PARITY. IT WAS USEFUL TO GO INTO SALT NEGOTIATIONS IN ORDER TO STEM THEIR ONGOING DEVELOPMENT.
Perle:
No, he wasn't troubled about parity, this was a completely phony argument that we wanted to cling to superiority. That never bothered him.
Interviewer:
BUT WHAT HE WOULD WANT TO GET OUT OF THE SALT NEGOTIATIONS. WHAT HIS CHIEF MOTIVE WAS FOR WANTING TO GO?
Perle:
He wanted to slow the momentum of the Soviet buildup, because he could see the curves they were on, and where it would eventually lead.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU RESTATE THAT SAYING THAT SENATOR JACKSON, THAT SALT NEGOTIATIONS WOULD BE... AND SO FORTH.
Perle:
Senator Jackson thought that the critical function of the SALT negotiations in the beginning was to halt the momentum of the Soviet strategic buildup, because he could see the trends, and where the Soviets would eventually arrive if those trends were permitted to continue unencumbered. When the SALT I agreement was concluded, the argument for it from Mel Laird and Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon and others, was that it had in fact halted the momentum of the Soviet strategic buildup, and Scoop Jackson's opposition to the interim agreement was that it hadn't done that at all, and we have the advantage of hindsight that Scoop was right. It didn't halt the momentum, it permitted it to continue.
Interviewer:
NOW I WANTED TO ASK YOU HOW HE FELT ABOUT PRESIDENT NIXON AND KISSINGER'S STRATEGY OF DÉTENTE. WAS IT AN APPROPRIATE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE SOVIET UNION?
Perle:
No, Senator Jackson thought that the Kissinger-Nixon concept of detente was fundamentally unsound. He believed that Kissinger, in attempting to tie the Soviets down in a series of agreements that would somehow lead to a moderation of their behavior, that he was really kidding himself, that we were going to get tied down, that in any effort to encumber the monolithic, or near-monolithic institutions of the Soviet state, dealing with free and independent and widely disparate institutions in the United States, that you would not wind up with an American hand on the lever, you'd wind up with a Soviet hand on the lever. I think that was all rather badly said.
Interviewer:
YOU MIGHT WANT TO SAY THAT... I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE HAND ON THE LEVER. IT'S GOOD. THEIR IDEA WAS THAT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF PEACE AND TRADE TIES WOULD BE TO THE ADVANTAGE, OUR ADVANTAGE. AND YOUR SAYING NOT.
Perle:
The Kissinger-Nixon concept of détente was that we would engage the Soviets in a broad number of agreements, covering many fields: science, technology, medicine, transportation nuclear weapons and the like. And that the Soviets would become dependent on the United States, in a manner that would cause them to moderate those of their international policies that we found most objectionable. We would end up exercising influence and leverage over Soviet decisions. But Scoop Jackson was acutely aware of the fact that you had a democracy with its free and disparate institutions being put into a series of relationships with the Soviet state, and whether one talked about transportation or medicine or energy there were many agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union, it was our universities and our research institutes and our professors dealing with officials of the Soviet government, who had a single purpose, and under those circumstances, Scoop believed, the Soviets would end up manipulating us, and not the other way around. And I believe that's what happened: we turned the business community into a virtual lobby for the Soviet Union when they saw the prospects of increased trade. We turned the scientific community into a sympathetic voice in our own politics, when they saw the prospects of scientific cooperation. So the theory was not only wrong, it was a hundred and eighty degrees wrong.
Interviewer:
I'M GOING TO ASK YOU TO JUST MAKE ONE MORE CONCISE STATEMENT SAYING THAT THE NIXON-KISSINGER THEORY WAS WRONG, AND WHY.
Perle:
Senator Jackson thought that the Kissinger-Nixon concept of detente was fundamentally wrong, because it would not lead to a moderation of Soviet behavior and greater American influence over Soviet decisions, but on the contrary it would lead to greater Soviet influence over American decisions.
Interviewer:
AFTER THE SALT I AGREEMENT WAS RATIFIED, THE WHITE HOUSE APPARENTLY GAVE SENATOR JACKSON CERTAIN CONCESSIONS, BECAUSE OF HIS DISSATISFACTION WITH THE SALT I AGREEMENT. ONE OF THEM WAS THAT HE WOULD HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO HANDPICK THE NEXT SALT NEGOTIATING TEAM AND ALSO A LOT OF THE ACTIVE STAFF. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW SENATOR JACKSON HAD THAT POWER AT THAT TIME, AND WHAT HIS PURPOSE WAS IN TRYING TO RESTRUCTURE THE PEOPLE MAKING THOSE MOVES?
Perle:
It has been claimed that, following the SALT I agreement Senator Jackson was given extraordinary authority to restructure personnel involved in arms control. This is simply false. The story's been around a long time Gerard Smith, who had been our chief negotiator and decided to resign, and a new negotiator had to be selected. Scoop was under no illusions about who had who was responsible for the unbalanced, as he saw it, SALT I agreement. It wasn't the negotiators, and it wasn't officials of the arms-control agency, it was Henry Kissinger, and Richard Nixon. And he was never under any illusion that you could improve the performance of the administration by changing relatively minor subordinates.
Interviewer:
YOU'RE SAYING THAT HE DIDN'T HAVE A ROLE IN PICKING THE SALT TEAM AND THE ACTIVE STAFF. THE OTHER STORY IS THAT HE WAS FEELING PRETTY STRONGLY THAT GENERAL ALLISON SHOULD BE RELIEVED OF HIS DUTIES AND THAT ALLISON HAD FAILED TO SERVE THE INTERESTS OF THE MILITARY OF THIS COUNTRY. CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT MISTAKES ALLISON MADE?
Perle:
Scoop was unhappy with General Allison's performance, when he represented the joint chiefs of staff in the negotiations, and I think what led him to that conclusion was the frequency with which Allison seemed unable to answer questions about the treaty, when the negotiating team came before the Senate in hearings on the treaty, and that shook Senator Jackson. I remember him saying to me "I deal with these issues from time to time when they're before the Senate, and I know the answers to questions. He's been doing this full-time, for the last two and a half years, and he can't answer the questions I can answer. There's something wrong here."
Interviewer:
DID HE FEEL THAT GENERAL ALLISON HADN'T REPRESENTED WELL THE NATIONAL SECURITY OR MILITARY INTERESTS OF THE JOINT CHIEFS?
Perle:
I think Senator Jackson thought that the SALT I agreement was hopelessly ambiguous, that critical details had not been nailed down in the negotiations, and that unlike the broad policy, was the responsibility of the negotiators, and in particular on the technical military questions, the responsibility of the representative of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
[END OF TAPE E07001]

Pitfalls of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks

Interviewer:
BECAUSE HE SAYS, HE ACTUALLY SAID TO US IN AN INTERVIEW, "I THINK IT WAS A BIG MISTAKE OF MINE THAT I LET SENATOR JACKSON PICK PEOPLE, BECAUSE THAT PUT THE WHITE HOUSE, INSTEAD OF MEDIATING IN THE MIDDLE, THAT THE WHITE HOUSE WAS FAR TO THE LEFT OF EVERYBODY ELSE." KISSINGER SAID THAT. DO YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS ON THAT?
Perle:
I think it's, it's flatly wrong.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU?
Perle:
Yes. Any changes that were made in personnel following the SALT I agreement were made by the White House, and by Henry Kissinger, and not by Scoop Jackson. And if Henry Kissinger says otherwise, it's because that was an easier way to explain firing his own people, than accepting the responsibility himself.
Interviewer:
OK. KISSINGER CAME INCREASINGLY UNDER FIRE, IN THE FIRST NEGOTIATIONS OF SALT II, IN NIXON'S SECOND TERM. WHAT WAS THE FEAR ABOUT HIS HANDLING OF THOSE NEGOTIATIONS?
Perle:
We feared that there would be a repetition of the SALT I agreement, another agreement that was unbalanced and that conferred unacceptable advantages on the Soviet Union. We were very doubtful about a negotiating process that led to agreements that permitted significant increases above the levels in effect on the date the agreements were signed. Because it seemed to us that the purpose of arms control should have been to constrain the military forces on both sides, and not simply to provide for their increases, legitimized through a bilateral agreement.
Interviewer:
WAS THERE A SENSE OF DISTRUST THAT BECAUSE OF WATERGATE AND PRESIDENT NIXON'S DECREASING, WHAT'S THE WORD FOR IT, CREDIBILITY, THAT THEY WOULD BE WILLING TO GIVE MORE CONCESSIONS TO THE SOVIET UNION IN ORDER TO GET SOME POSITIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS?
Perle:
There, there was a point when Nixon was enmeshed in Watergate, when we feared that there would be a desperate effort to conclude an agreement in order to substitute one set of headlines for another recurring set of headlines. And that our national security was being put at risk in order to help the President solve a personal problem of his own making. And Scoop Jackson had no sympathy at all for that, and worked rather hard to assure that that would not be permitted to happen.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PURPOSE BEHIND THE JACKSON-VANIK AMENDMENT, THE AMENDMENT TO THE TRADE BILL THAT WAS TO GRANT THE USSR MOST-FAVORED-NATION STATUS?
Perle:
The purpose behind the Jackson amendment, which ultimately became known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment was to condition concessions to the Soviet Union, trade concessions, credits, and most-favored-nation status, on an improvement in the emigration policies of the Soviet Union, which, when the amendment was introduced, threatened to bring emigration to a grinding halt. The Soviets had introduced an education tax, and anyone with any formal education was subject to prohibitive and punitive taxes that people were simply unable to pay. And it looked as though this might be the device by which emigration would be brought to an end. By offering an amendment that made trade concessions to the Soviets contingent upon an end to the education tax, and an improvement in the plight of would-be emigrees. We hoped to create the conditions in which the administration could negotiate some kind of compromise with the Soviets, and our biggest disappointment was the reluctance with which the administration regarded the leverage that we placed in their hands.
Interviewer:
KISSINGER SAID TO US THAT EMIGRATION, DURING HIS TENURE, SOARED FROM 300 A YEAR IN 1968 TO 35,000 A YEAR IN 1973, AND THAT AFTER THE JACKSON-VANIK AMENDMENT PASSED IT DROPPED BY 20,000 AGAIN. AND THAT WAS A SIGN THAT HIS STRATEGY OF WREAKING LIBERALIZATION FROM THE SOVIET UNION WAS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN TRYING TO LEGISLATE CHANGES, INTERNAL CHANGES IN THEIR SYSTEM. WHAT WAS SENATOR JACKSON'S RESPONSE TO THAT?
Perle:
Well, Senator Jackson was quite convinced that the improvement in emigration figures was directly related to the Soviet effort to prevent the Jackson amendment from being legislated, and that the threat of legislation was a very effective tool that could be used by a willing administration, if one had one to try to increase the flow of emigrants and diminish the suffering inflicted on people who applied to leave. The, the figures subsequent to the passage of the Jackson amendment have gone up and down reaching higher levels than ever, in 1979 when fifty thousand people where permitted to leave. What I think the Kissinger view of history, and here I think he's... distorted the facts both in his memoirs, and evidently in what he's had to say to you. What that overlooks is that from the beginning, Scoop Jackson's view was that Kissinger should use the imminence of legislation to work out a compromise with the Soviets. Kissinger refused even to attempt such a negotiation for a very long time, and when he finally did begin negotiations under pressure of the amendment, an agreement was reached, and an agreement that provided for a substantial increase in emigration. We have Kissinger's testimony for that. He now says that that agreement unraveled when it was made public, but he was very much involved in the drafting of the public statement that was to be issued on the day that the agreement was concluded. So it's a, it's a wildly distorted account. Scoop's effort from the beginning was to bring pressure to bear in the hope that a compromise would ultimately be reached, and it was.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU JUST SUMMARIZE FROM THE POINT YOU MENTION KISSINGER'S MEMOIRS?
Perle:
Kissinger's account of the battle over the Jackson amendment and its implications has been greatly distorted in his memoirs, and in things he has said elsewhere. The fact is that from the beginning we attempted to work with him, making it plain that the imminence of legislation gave him the kind of leverage that, had he been willing he might have used to produce a compromise. For a long time he resisted a negotiation of that sort, and when eventually he undertook it, under pressure from the amendment, it did lead, on October 18th, 1974, to an exchange of correspondence between Senator Jackson and Henry Kissinger that constituted an agreement with the Soviet Union. The Soviets subsequently reneged on that agreement, for reasons that we cannot possibly know, or at least we can't know for sure.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU JUST GIVE US A SUMMARY OF WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE NIXON-KISSINGER CONCEPT OF DÉTENTE? HOW SHOULD WE REGARD THE SOVIET UNION AND DEAL WITH THEM IN ARMS-CONTROL NEGOTIATIONS AND IN TRYING TO GAIN MORE INFLUENCE OVER THEIR ACTIVITIES? WHAT DID SENATOR JACKSON FELT AT THE TIME?
Perle:
Senator Jackson who read history a great deal, and in particular the history of the Soviet Union, believed that in dealing with a totalitarian state, it was necessary for the United States to have clear negotiating objectives. To mobilize our own military strength in order to create favorable conditions, that the Soviets refer to as the correlation of forces, and then to negotiate fairly but firmly. What he objected to most of all was the tendency to seek agreement for agreement's sake, to lower continuously one's sights, to abandon one objective after another, and wind up in the end with a piece of paper that didn't serve our interests. And he objected to that strenuously because he believed it was unnecessary to wind up with agreement for agreement's sake. If one kept one's objectives clear, it was possible to negotiate them.
Interviewer:
IS THERE A WAY TO NEGOTIATE AN AGREEMENT WITH THE SOVIET UNION IN WHICH... IS EVERYTHING THAT THEY WOULD AGREE TO NOT TO OUR ADVANTAGE?
Perle:
I believe it's possible to negotiate agreements with the Soviet Union that are in the interest of both the Soviet Union and the United States, but we'll never know whether that's true unless we put propositions to them that have that quality, and have the courage, the political courage, and the patience to stand firm for the, an outcome of that nature. If we abandon agreements of that type early in the negotiating process, as we've had a tendency to do, then we wind up with agreements that don't serve our interests, and may not serve the interests of the Soviet side either.
Interviewer:
DO YOU HAVE A CONCLUDING ANALYSIS OF WHAT SALT I DID FOR THE UNITED STATES?
Perle:
The great failure of the SALT I interim agreement was that it did not do the thing that it was claimed, it was intended to do, and that was halt the momentum of the Soviet strategic buildup. On the contrary, it legitimized that buildup, by limiting the wrong things. It permitted the Soviets to add enormously to their military forces, under the terms of an agreement, which therefore had the effect of creating a very misleading impression that the Soviets were not in fact rapidly building up their strategic forces. The fact that everything they were doing was taking place under the terms of an agreement created the misleading impression that it was okay, and that it was not inimical to the interests of the United States.
Interviewer:
CAN YOU JUST SAY THAT IN ONE SENTENCE, SORT OF?
Perle:
Far from halting the momentum of the Soviet strategic buildup, the SALT I agreement permitted the Soviets to continue a massive buildup of their strategic forces, without creating the normal apprehensions that would have been associated with an unrestrained, because it largely was unrestrained, military buildup, because what they were doing was being done pursuant to an agreement, it did not touch off the apprehensions that it should have touched off.
Interviewer:
DOES THAT MEAN WE SHOULD HAVE TRIED FOR A MIRV BAN? WOULD SENATOR JACKSON HAVE PUSHED FOR A MIRV BAN AT THAT TIME?
Perle:
Well, we did early in the negotiations, propose a MIRV ban, but we didn't know how to verify a ban on the development of MIRVs, so we proposed a ban on the deployment of MIRVs, with on-site inspection, and the Soviets would not accept that proposal, they wouldn't accept the on-site inspection and I'm convinced that they were determined to develop their own multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles.
Interviewer:
WAS SENATOR JACKSON IN FAVOR OF ACTUALLY TRYING THE MIRV BAN? WOULD HE HAVE PREFERRED IF WE HAD CONCLUDED ONE?
Perle:
Senator Jackson supported the MIRV ban when it was proposed early in the first rounds of the SALT I negotiations. It was a ban...
Interviewer:
START OVER.
Perle:
The, the American position early in the SALT I negotiations was to ban the deployment of MIRVs. We knew that we couldn't ban the development of MIRVs, because it would be unverifiable, and we could only ban the deployment of MIRVs with on-site inspection, so we insisted on on-site inspection, and the Soviets flatly rejected it. The Soviet position was that we should cease development of MIRVs.
Interviewer:
WAS SENATOR JACKSON IN FAVOR OF BOTH SIDES NOT MIRVING, OR WAS HE IN FAVOR OF FREEZING A US ADVANTAGE IN MIRVING AT THAT POINT?
Perle:
Senator Jackson supported the administration when it proposed a MIRV ban to the Soviets. When that proved unachievable, he was very much in favor of the United States proceeding to deploy MIRVs on US forces.
Interviewer:
THE PROPOSAL THAT WAS MADE WOULD HAVE FROZEN A US ADVANTAGE, BECAUSE IT WOULD HAVE STOPPED THE SOVIETS FROM TESTING, AND WE'D ALREADY ACHIEVED TESTING. SO WAS HE IN FAVOR OF ONE THAT WOULD HAVE FROZEN AN ADVANTAGE TO THE US TO REMAIN AHEAD OF THE SOVIET UNION IN TESTING ON MIRVS?
Perle:
No, the American proposal was for a ban on the deployment of MIRVs, and it was a ban that could only be verified by on-site inspection. That was the American proposal. The Soviets proposed a ban on MIRV testing but no ban on deployment and no on-site inspection. And that was unacceptable to us because it was too risky. But the MIRV agreement really foundered on the issue of on-site inspection.
Interviewer:
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY THAT WAS DELIBERATE ON THE ADMINISTRATION'S PART. THAT THEY DIDN'T REALLY WANT A MIRV BAN THAT IT WAS BETTER FOR US TO PUSH AHEAD WHERE WE HAD SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGY AND HAD A LEAD IN THAT. DO YOU THINK THAT WAS TRUE?
Perle:
I think, I believe that this business of always attributing dark motives to people who agree with very soft negotiators is not helpful to understanding the debate, and the issues. On-site inspection was necessary if you were to have any confidence at all that the Soviet Union was not cheating, and the suggestion that the demand for on-site inspection was intended to prevent an agreement is the kind of unfair argumentation that really confuses issues.
Interviewer:
SO YOU THOUGHT THAT IN THAT SITUATION IT WAS BETTER FOR US TO GO AHEAD AND MIRV, KNOWING THAT WHEN THE SOVIETS MIRVED THEIR SS-9s THAT IT WOULD PUT OUR LAND-BASED FORCE IN A MORE VULNERABLE POSITION.
Perle:
Well, we did not know how to prevent the Soviets from MIRVing in a verifiable manner without the ability to inspect, and they wouldn't agree to the inspection. So that made it impossible to agree to a ban on MIRVs, despite the obvious consequences of that.
Interviewer:
KISSINGER SAID THAT IN WORKING ON SALT II, ON THOSE NEGOTIATIONS, THAT THE EQUIVALENCY AMENDMENT PLACED UNNEEDED RESTRICTIONS ON THE PROCESS, THAT HE WOULD HAVE RATHER HAD SOME UNEQUIVALENCY IN THE NUMBERS OF LAUNCHERS, IN RETURN FOR MORE RESTRICTIONS ON THEIR MIRVING, BECAUSE WE WERE MORE VULNERABLE TO THEIR MIRVING AT THAT POINT. WAS THERE ANY SENSE THAT THE EQUIVALENCY RULE WAS SORT OF STILTED IN DEALING WITH THE ASYMMETRIC FORCES, AND COULD GET IN OUR WAY IN TERMS OF STOPPING THIS MIRVING WHICH WASN'T IN OUR INTEREST?
Perle:
I, when Henry Kissinger was in charge of negotiations and had no equivalency rules, and no other encumbrances of any kind, he succeeded in negotiating an agreement that was lopsided in favor of the Soviet Union, and my sympathy is limited for a negotiator who says he can do a better job if those who insist on equality would not encumber his freedom to negotiate.
Interviewer:
WHAT DO YOU THINK WAS THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH SALT II? WITH THE BEGINNING OF SALT II. HENRY KISSINGER AT ONE POINT IN 1974 SAID, "IF I'D REALIZED WHAT A MIRVED WORLD MEANT, I WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE SERIOUS ABOUT OBTAINING A MIRV BAN." BECAUSE BY THAT TIME WE HAD A REAL PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS WITH THE MIRVING. WHAT WAS SENATOR JACKSON'S ATTITUDE?
Perle:
Well, Senator Jackson realized what a MIRVed world would mean. He didn't come lately to discoveries of this kind. There's a somewhat extraordinary remark that Henry Kissinger after two years in office was beginning to understand one of the fundamentals of the negotiation that he was superintending. I think the record will show that Scoop Jackson saw further into the future, including the problems eventually discovered by others, and I would offer as some evidence of that his memorandum to Henry Kissinger in October of 1970, in which he correctly anticipated Soviet developments if the administration was so unwise as to conclude an agreement in which the only significant constraint was on launchers, and there were no further constraints on numbers of warheads or the size of the missiles in those launchers, or improvements in the missiles in those launchers, all of which had the potential for adding significantly to the military capability of the Soviet missile forces. And that is exactly what happened.
Interviewer:
HE SAID THAT IN SALT II WE WENT FOR LEVELS OF LAUNCHERS THAT WERE FAR BEYOND WHAT WE EVER BUILT, BECAUSE OUR FORCES ARE STRUCTURED DIFFERENTLY THAN THEIRS, AND THEREFORE WE GAVE AWAY CRUCIAL BARGAINING LEVERAGE ON THINGS THAT WE WOULDN'T UTILIZE.
Perle:
Henry has a million rationalizations for why he produced an agreement that was unbalanced in favor of the Soviet Union. That is one of many such rationalizations. You, if his view is that we didn't want additional launchers, and therefore there was no reason why we should insist on additional launchers one can turn that around and say, "As we did not desire additional launchers, we should have insisted that the Soviets reduce their launchers down to our lower and satisfactory level." That at least would have produced an agreement balanced in terms of the numbers of launchers.
Interviewer:
WHAT DO YOU THINK IN GENERAL ABOUT WHAT THE PURPOSE OF ARMS CONTROL IS, AND ABOUT THIS, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS SORT OF "BARGAINING CHIP" ARGUMENT THAT'S USUALLY APPLIED TO WEAPONS SYSTEMS? IN THAT WE CAN'T HAVE A MORATORIUM ON MIRVS BECAUSE ONCE WE STOP WE'LL NEVER GET AHEAD AND WE NEED TO BUILD THEM. AND THE OTHER SIDE SAYS WELL WE CAN'T FREEZE A SITUATION WHERE WE'RE AHEAD. WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY?
Perle:
In my view the purpose of arms-control negotiations is to achieve agreements that diminish the military threat that we face, and that enhance the stability of the strategic relationship between the signatories. That is not a description of most of the arms-control agreements in history, many...
[END OF TAPE E07002 AND TRANSCRIPT]
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