Stanislav Petrov und Rainer Rupp sind in Wikipedia, aber sonst in keinem WHO's WHO verzeichnet. Und sie werden auch weiterhin sowohl in der Öffentlichkeit als auch bei den politischen Entscheidungsträgern kaum wahrgenommen. Nicht überraschend, gehören sie doch der Generation der kalten Krieger und der damaligen Geheimdienstblüten an. Dennoch bin ich geneigt, dem damaligen legendären Chef des ostdeutschen Geheimdienstes Markus Wolf beizupflichten, der seinen Schützling Rupp - welchen er unter dem Decknamen TOPAS in den innersten NATO-Stab eingeschmuggelt hatte - zu den Hauptakteuren zur Abwendung eines Nuklearkriegs zählt. Mit dieser Beurteilung sehe ich mich in guter Gesellschaft, so mit dem derzeitigen US-Verteidigungsminister Robert Gates, dem CIA-Historiker Benjamin Fischer, und Professor Voytech Mastny vom amerikanischen Naval War College.
Und wenn ich noch im Parlament wäre, würde ich mich für die Verleihung des Friedensnobel-Preises an den ehemaligen sowjetischen Oberstleutnant Stanislav Petrov einsetzen. Denn er war es, der am 26.September 1983 fünf in kürzestem Abstand vom sowjetischen Satellitensystem registrierte und vom Computer als amerikanische nukleare Erstschläge gemeldete Raketen-Abschüsse als technischen Falschalarm interpretierte und vorschriftswidrig nicht weitermeldete. Und welcher damit wohl als einziger dem 8-Minuten Auslöser des nuklearen sowjetischen Vergeltungsschlags noch massgebend im Weg stand. Für den damaligen Hairtrigger-Spannungszustand bezeichnend, wurde er dafür von seinen Vorgesetzten nicht gelobt, sondern sofort vorschriftsgemäss abgehalftert und versenkt.
Geheimgehalten bis vor wenigen Jahren, niemand im Westen scheint von den genannten Vorgängen eine Ahnung gehabt zu haben. Wie sehr wir alle entlang dem nuklearen Abgrund nachtwandelten. Wie sehr die Entscheidungen über die Nichtauslösung des nuklearen Armageddon-Schlags auf schwachen Füssen standen. Und wie sehr das auf der MAD-Doktrin aufgebaute Gleichgewicht des Schreckens (mutual assured destruction) in Wirklichkeit stets durch mangelhafte Lagebeurteilungen, Absichtsinterpretationen und fehlerhafte Kommunikationssysteme gefährdet war. Die gegenseitigen Hasstiraden, Provokationen und realen Unkenntnisse über den Gegner waren dabei nicht geeignet, das unabdingbare Mindestvertrauen in die Gegenseite zu fördern und aufrechtzuerhalten. Stets mögliche Missverständnisse konnten so sehr schnell ausser Kontrolle geraten und - wie im Fall der falsch interpretierten Satellitensignale - gefährlichste Dimensionen annehmen.
Auf dem Hintergrund der Panzerübermacht der Armeen des Warschau-Pakts rief die Einführung der leistungsstarken, meist mobilen sowjetischen Mittelstreckenraketen SS-20 nach verstärkten Gegenmassnahmen. Das amerikanische Starwar-Projekt und der NATO-Doppelbeschluss (Abrüstungsangebot und Stationierung der nuklearen Pershing II-Rakten in einem 4-Minuten Umkreis der Sowjetunion) weckten ihrerseits die Erinnerung ihrer Militärveteranen an Hitler's Überraschungsangriff von 1941, und nährten auch in ihrer politischen Führung die Befürchtung eines enthauptenden nuklearen Erstschlags. Eine weitere Zuspitzung dieser Extremspannungen brachte der Abschuss des südkoreanischen Linienflugzeuges KAL 007 am 1.September 1983 durch sowjetische Jäger, welche einem amerikanischen Spionageflugzeug auf den Fersen gewesen sein sollen. Die als Simulation eines Atomkrieges angekündigten Herbstmanöver Able Archer vom 2-11 November 1983 liessen sowjetischerseite das Schlimmste befürchten, denn sie zeichneten sich durch entsprechende Neuigkeiten aus, wie ein neues Kommunikations- und Kodierungssystem, absolute Funkstille, und Teilnahme von Regierungschefs von führenden NATO-Ländern. Selbst die aus dem innersten NATO-Kreis stammende TOPAS-Versicherung, dass kein Angriff bevorstünde, vermochte z.B. "den späteren KGB-Chef Wladimir Krjutschkow nicht von seiner Überzeugung abzubringen, dass ein amerikanischer Erstschlag konkret geplant sei." Auch wenn nicht für die Öffentlichkeit bestimmt, gibt Ronald Reagan's Radio-Sprechprobe vom 11.August 1984 die damals vorherrschende angeheizte Stimmung eindrücklich wieder: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
Die damit zum Ausdruck gebrachten Denkweisen und Reflexe hatten aber auch in der Schweiz tiefe und nachhaltige Wurzeln. Die in weiten Kreisen auf Sympathie für den Mörder stossende Ermordung des sowjetischen Delegierten V.V.Vorovskij an der Lausanner Konferenz von 1923 brachte einen Anti-Bolschewismus an den Tag, der im freigesprochenen Moritz Conradi seinen Helden fand. Dass dabei sogar der Rechtsstaat, die traditionelle Neutralität und offizielle Zurückhaltung, und bis 1946 auch die diplomatischen Beziehungen zur UdSSR unter die Räder kamen, weist aber auch auf dunklere Zusammenhänge hin. Die Klarsichtigkeit, mit der die Schweiz 1950 dauerhaft goodwill-schaffend die Volksrepublik China anerkannte, gebietet jedenfalls zur Vorsicht gegenüber historischen Sofortinterpretationen. Gleichwohl erinnert mich die vom Nationalrats-Präsidenten dekretierte Schweigeminute aus Anlass der japanischen Reaktorkatastrophe von Fukushima daran, dass der Anti-Kommunismus in unserem Lande eine tiefgreifende und generationen-umfassende Triebfeder unserer Gesellschaft und Politik gewesen ist. Als ich mir nämlich am 16.Juni 1986 erlaubte, "meinem tiefen Mitgefühl für die inner- und ausserhalb der Sowjetunion zu beklagenden Opfer der Katastrophe von Tschernobyl durch einen Moment des Schweigens Ausdruck zu geben", lud ich die Anwesenden zwar ebenfalls ein, "auf Ihre Weise die zu erwartende bundesrätliche Sympathiekundgebung zu unterstützen!", wie im Amtl. Bulletin auf Seite 803 nachzulesen ist. Für jene Zeit noch als symptomatisch, erhoben sich daraufhin aber nicht mehr als eine Handvoll von Ratsmitgliedern von ihren eigentlich nicht so bequemen Sitzen.
Auf diesem spannungsüberladenen, aber auch unwirtlichen, weil andauernd extrem zurückhaltenden Hintergrund nahm ich mit Brief vom 9.November 1983 Kontakte auf mit den Militär-Attachés der Sowjetunion und der Vereinigten Staaten in Bern. Dies in Absprache mit dem Bundesrat. Mein Vorschlag entsprang meiner langjährigen Beschäftigung mit unserer Neutralität und den daraus erwachsenden Gelegenheiten für Gute Dienste. In diesem Fall ging es darum, dass die Generalstabschefs beider Länder sich in der Schweiz informell treffen mochten zum Aufbau einer minimalen persönlichen Vertrauensbasis. Aus den obigen Gründen, die auch mir damals nicht bekannt waren, traf ich damit beidseits unverzüglich auf erhebliches Interesse. Aus Gründen jedoch, die andere zu verantworten haben, fanden solche und weitergehende Treffen dann auch tatsächlich statt (z.B. 1984 und 1988), und führten schliesslich auch zu entsprechenden Abkommen - aber nicht wie ursprünglich geplant auf Einladung des Schweizer Generalstabchefs. Und spätere Historiker mögen sich dafür interessieren, ob und wieweit all dies schliesslich zur Beendigung des Kalten Krieges, und zu dem auch vom amerikanischen Kongress gewürdigten historischen Treffen in Genf vom 19.20 November 1985 zwischen Präsident Ronald Reagan und Generalsekretär Michael Gorbatchev beigetragen hat.
Spätere Historiker mögen sich dafür interessieren, ob und wieweit all dies schliesslich zur Beendigung des Kalten Krieges, und zu dem auch vom amerikanischen Kongress gewürdigten historischen Treffen in Genf vom 19.20 November 1985 zwischen Präsident Ronald Reagan und Generalsekretär Michael Gorbatchev beigetragen hat. Und ob gewisse parlamentarische Vorstösse, welche von der zusehends übermächtigen Verwaltung zwar routinemässig als not invented here weggeputzt worden sind - und werden -, wenn nicht das Gelbe com Ei, sich doch noch als mehr als Elfenbeinturm-Phantasien, ja als visionär erwiesen haben - oder noch erweisen werden. Dazu gehören der Kampf gegen das auf mikro-ökonomischen Grundlagen entwickelte makro-ökonomische Kaiseraugst-Projekt, die Bemühungen um eine ökologisch-ausgerichtete Bevölkerungs-, Migrations- und Landwirtschafspolitik, die Informatisierung unseres Kulturerbes (Völkerbunds- und UNO-Archivs und der Schweizer Universitäts-Bibliotheken) als 700-Jahr Jubiläumsgeschenk der Eidgenossenschaft an die Weltgemeinschaft, die Anstösse zur Verwirklichung der Confoederatio Europae, von de Gaulles' Europa der Vaterländer, die nachhaltige Ablösung der ottomanischen Altlasten mittels des Mosul Vilayet-Projekts, die Gewährleistung des Fortbestandes Japans auf dem asiatischen Kontinent, die nachhaltige Entlastung des Yangtsekiang-Beckens durch teilweise Flussableitung in das benachbarte Red River-Becken, die Einrichtung einer ständigen, von der Schweiz getragenen neutralen Atlantis-Delegation im UNO-Sicherheitsrat anstelle ihrer dortigen - neutralitätswidrigen - Pseudo-Mitwirkung, uam.
Die Katastrophe von Tschernobyl ereignete sich am 26. April 1986
arte 1.Mai 2010
1983. Am atomaren Abgrund
Ende des Jahres 1983 spitzten sich die Spannungen zwischen der UdSSR und den USA dramatisch zu. Um Haaresbreite wäre es wegen des Verdachts, eine Übung sei in Wirklichkeit der Ernstfall, zu einer atomaren Katastrophe gekommen. Der Dokumentarfilm beleuchtet die bisher kaum bekannten Ereignisse während dieser Phase des Kalten Krieges, die die Bewohner der Erde innerhalb einiger Tage im November 1983 an den Rand des Abgrunds führten.
Beginnend mit dem 2. November 1983 veranstaltete
der NATO-Generalstab eine jährliche militärische Übung namens
"Able Archer". Dieses europaweite zehntägige Manöver simulierte
einen Atomkrieg. Doch in der angespannten politischen Situation hätte
die Routineübung unter Realbedingungen beinahe zur Eskalation in eine
nukleare Katastrophe geführt. Besonderen Verdacht auf einen ernst
gemeinten atomaren Erstschlag der USA löste bei den Sowjets die Tatsache
aus, dass bei diesem Manöver erstmals ein neues Codierungsformat für
die Nachrichtenübermittlung zum Einsatz kam.
Außerdem hatte die Stationierung neuer Pershing-Raketen in Europa durch US-Präsident Ronald Reagan dem ohnehin latenten sowjetischen Misstrauen neue Nahrung geboten und das Wettrüsten angeheizt. Trotz zahlreicher Friedensdemonstrationen hielt Reagan an seiner harten Linie fest. So sprach er in einer Rede im März 1983 vom "Reich des Bösen". Im gleichen Monat startete er das "Star-Wars-Programm", das die Errichtung eines Gürtels von Waffen zum Abfangen sowjetischer Interkontinentalraketen vorsah.
Auf sowjetischer Seite verstarb im Juni 1983 Leonid Breschnew, neuer starker Mann der UdSSR wurde Juri Andropow als Generalsekretär der KPdSU, der 1967 bis 1982 Chef des Geheimdienstes KGB gewesen war. Der greise und kranke Andropow wollte um keinen Preis dem Westen gegenüber Schwäche zeigen. Und das gesamte Politbüro wollte nicht wieder auf so verheerende Weise überrumpelt werden wie bei Hitlers Überraschungsangriff im Juni 1941. Unter Andropow erreichte das Misstrauen auf sowjetischer Seite einen Höhepunkt. Für den Generalstab der Sowjetunion vervielfachten sich die Alarmzeichen. Bis zu dem Moment, als ein Militärsatellit - irrtümlich - den Start mehrerer Raketen meldete. Doch das besonnene Verhalten sowjetischer Militärs verhinderte die Katastrophe.
(Grossbritannien, 2007, 73mn) ARTE F (http://plus7.arte.tv/de/1697660,CmC=3175048.html) Regie: Henry Chancellor
Besetzung (In der Reihenfolge des
Robert Cambrinus ... Colonel Stanislav Petrov
Olegar Fedoro ... Russian General
Gina McKee ... als sie selbst - Erzähler (Sprechrolle)
übrige Besetzung in alphabetischer
Ted Bliss ... als er selbst
Maxim Devetyarov ... als er selbst (als Col. Maxim Devetyarov)
Ben Fischer ... als er selbst
Robert Gates ... als er selbst (als Robert M. Gates)
Oleg Gordievsky ... als er selbst
Werner Grossmann ... als er selbst
John Hughes-Wilson ... als er selbst (als Col. John Hughes-Wilson)
Oleg Kalugin ... als er selbst
Igor Kondriatev ... als er selbst (als Gen. Igor Kondriatev)
Vladimir Kryuchkov ... als er selbst
Sergei Lokot ... als er selbst
Robert McFarlane ... als er selbst (Archivfilmmaterial) (als Robert 'Bud' McFarlane)
Gennadi Osipovich ... als er selbst
Stanislav Petrov ... als er selbst
Charles Powell ... als er selbst (als Sir Charles Powell)
Peter Pry ... als er selbst
Rainer Rupp ... als er selbst
John Schwab ... Erzähler
Vladlen Smirnoff ... als er selbst (als Admiral Vladlen Smirnoff)
Viktor Tkachenko ... als er selbst (als Capt. Viktor Tkachenko)
Ivan Tretyak ... als er selbst (als Gen. Ivan Tretyak)
Ivan Yesin ... als er selbst (als Gen. Col. Ivan Yesin)
Ronald Reagan ... als
er selbst (Archivmaterial) (nicht im Abspann)
Margaret Thatcher ... als sie selbst (Archivmaterial) (nicht im Abspann)
Able Archer, The 1983 Soviet War Scare, Die RYAN-Krise, US-Soviet Relations 61-89,
11.Apr 83 Militärmacht
UdSSR - im Westen überschätzt, Der Spiegel
Return to Armageddon
The United States and the Nuclear Arms Race, 1981-1999
ronald e. Powaski
Oxford University Press 2000
Bush also proposed bilateral discussions to explore cooperation on nuclear command and control, warhead security and safety, and safe and environmentally responsible storage, transportation, dismantling, and destruction of nuclear warheads. These discussions would be a
logical result of what the president described as a shift of “focus away from the prospect of global confrontation.” p.133
to the Nation and Other Countries on United States-Soviet Relations
US President Ronald Reagan
During these first days of 1984, I would like to share with you and the people of the world my thoughts on a subject of great importance to the cause of peace -- relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Tomorrow the United States will join the Soviet Union and 33 other nations at a European disarmament conference in Stockholm. The conference will search for practical and meaningful ways to increase European security and preserve peace. We will be in Stockholm with the heartfelt wishes of our people for genuine progress.
We live in a time of challenges to peace, but also of opportunities to peace. Through times of difficulty and frustration, America's highest aspiration has never wavered. We have and will continue to struggle for a lasting peace that enhances dignity for men and women everywhere.
I believe that 1984 finds the United States in the strongest position in years to establish a constructive and realistic working relationship with the Soviet Union. We've come a long way since the decade of the seventies, years when the United States seemed filled with self-doubt and neglected its defenses, while the Soviet Union increased its military might and sought to expand its influence by armed forces and threat.
Over the last 10 years, the Soviets devoted twice as much of their gross national product to military expenditures as the United States, produced six times as many ICBM's, four times as many tanks, twice as many combat aircraft. And they began deploying the SS - 20 intermediate-range missile at a time when the United States had no comparable weapon.
History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap. To keep the peace, we and our allies must be strong enough to convince any potential aggressor that war could bring no benefit, only disaster. So, when we neglected our defenses, the risks of serious confrontation grew.
Three years ago, we embraced a mandate from the American people to change course, and we have. With the support of the American people and the Congress we halted America's decline. Our economy is now in the midst of the best recovery since the sixties. Our defenses are being rebuilt, our alliances are solid, and our commitment to defend our values has never been more clear.
America's recovery may have taken Soviet leaders by surprise. They may have counted on us to keep weakening ourselves. They've been saying for years that our demise was inevitable. They said it so often they probably started believing it. Well, if so, I think they can see now they were wrong.
This may be the reason that we've been hearing such strident rhetoric from the Kremlin recently. These harsh words have led some to speak of heightened uncertainty and an increased danger of conflict. This is understandable but profoundly mistaken.
Look beyond the words, and one fact stands out: America's deterrence is more credible, and it is making the world a safer place -- safer because now there is less danger that the Soviet leadership will underestimate our strength or question our resolve.
Yes, we are safer now, but to say that our restored deterrence has made the world safer is not to say that it's safe enough. We're witnessing tragic conflicts in many parts of the world. Nuclear arsenals are far too high, and our working relationship with the Soviet Union is not what it must be. These are conditions which must be addressed and improved.
Deterrence is essential to preserve peace and protect our way of life, but deterrence is not the beginning and end of our policy toward the Soviet Union. We must and will engage the Soviets in a dialog as serious and constructive as possible -- a dialog that will serve to promote peace in the troubled regions of the world, reduce the level of arms, and build a constructive working relationship.
Neither we nor the Soviet Union can wish away the differences between our two societies and our philosophies, but we should always remember that we do have common interests and the foremost among them is to avoid war and reduce the level of arms.
There is no rational alternative but to steer a course which I would call credible deterrence and peaceful competition. And if we do so, we might find areas in which we could engage in constructive cooperation. Our strength and vision of progress provide the basis for demonstrating with equal conviction our commitment to stay secure and to find peaceful solutions to problems through negotiations. That's why 1984 is a year of opportunities for peace.
But if the United States and the Soviet Union are to rise to the challenges facing us and seize the opportunities for peace, we must do more to find areas of mutual interest and then build on them.
I propose that our governments make a major effort to see if we can make progress in three broad problem areas. First, we need to find ways to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, the threat and use of force in solving international disputes.
The world has witnessed more than 100 major conflicts since the end of World War II. Today there are armed conflicts in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Central America, and Africa. In other regions, independent nations are confronted by heavily armed neighbors seeking to dominate by threatening attack or subversion. Most of these conflicts have their origins in local problems, but many have been exploited by the Soviet Union and its surrogates. And, of course, Afghanistan has suffered an outright Soviet invasion.
Fueling regional conflicts and exporting violence only exacerbate local tensions, increase suffering, and make solutions to real social and economic problems more difficult. Further, such activity carries with it the risk of larger confrontations. Would it not be better and safer if we could work together to assist people in areas of conflict in finding peaceful solutions to their problems? That should be our mutual goal.
But we must recognize that the gap in American and Soviet perceptions and policy is so great that our immediate objective must be more modest. As a first step, our governments should jointly examine concrete actions that we both can take to reduce the risk of U.S.-Soviet confrontation in these areas. And if we succeed, we should be able to move beyond this immediate objective.
Our second task should be to find ways to reduce the vast stockpiles of armaments in the world. It's tragic to see the world's developing nations spending more than $150 billion a year on armed forces -- some 20 percent of their national budgets. We must find ways to reverse the vicious cycle of threat and response which drives arms races everywhere it occurs.
With regard to nuclear weapons, the simple truth is America's total nuclear stockpile has declined. Today we have far fewer nuclear weapons than we had 20 years ago, and in terms of its total destructive power, our nuclear stockpile is at the lowest level in 25 years.
Just 3 months ago, we and our allies agreed to withdraw 1,400 nuclear weapons from Western Europe. This comes after the withdrawal of 1,000 nuclear weapons from Europe 3 years ago. Even if all our planned intermediate-range missiles have to be deployed in Europe over the next 5 years -- and we hope this will not be necessary -- we will have eliminated five existing nuclear weapons for each new weapon deployed.
But this is not enough. We must accelerate our efforts to reach agreements that will greatly reduce nuclear arsenals, provide greater stability, and build confidence.
Our third task is to establish a better working relationship with each other, one marked by greater cooperation and understanding. Cooperation and understanding are built on deeds, not words. Complying with agreements helps; violating them hurts. Respecting the rights of individual citizens bolsters the relationship; denying these rights harms it. Expanding contacts across borders and permitting a free exchange or interchange of information and ideas increase confidence; sealing off one's people from the rest of the world reduces it. Peaceful trade helps, while organized theft of industrial secrets certainly hurts.
Cooperation and understanding are especially important to arms control. In recent years we've had serious concerns about Soviet compliance with agreements and treaties. Compliance is important because we seek truly effective arms control. However, there's been mounting evidence that provisions of agreements have been violated and that advantage has been taken of ambiguities in our agreements.
In response to a congressional request, a report on this will be submitted in the next few days. It is clear that we cannot simply assume that agreements negotiated will be fulfilled. We must take the Soviet compliance record into account, both in the development of our defense program and in our approach to arms control.
In our discussions with the Soviet Union, we will work to remove the obstacles which threaten to undermine existing agreements and a broader arms control process. Examples I've cited illustrate why our relationship with the Soviet Union is not what it should be. We have a long way to go, but we're determined to try and try again. We may have to start in small ways, but start we must.
In working on these tasks, our approach is based on three guiding principles -- realism, strength, and dialog. Realism means we must start with a clear-eyed understanding of the world we live in. We must recognize that we are in a long-term competition with a government that does not share our notions of individual liberties at home and peaceful change abroad. We must be frank in acknowledging our differences and un- afraid to promote our values.
Strength is essential to negotiate successfully and protect our interests. If we're weak, we can do neither. Strength is more than military power. Economic strength is crucial, and America's economy is leading the world into recovery. Equally important is our strength of spirit and unity among our people at home and with our allies abroad. We're stronger in all these areas than we were 3 years ago. Our strength is necessary to deter war and to facilitate negotiated solutions. Soviet leaders know it makes sense to compromise only if they can get something in return. Well, America can now offer something in return.
Strength and dialog go hand in hand, and we're determined to deal with our differences peacefully through negotiations. We're prepared to discuss the problems that divide us and to work for practical, fair solutions on the basis of mutual compromise. We will never retreat from negotiations.
I have openly expressed my view of the Soviet system. I don't know why this should come as a surprise to Soviet leaders who've never shied from expressing their view of our system. But this doesn't mean that we can't deal with each other. We don't refuse to talk when the Soviets call us imperialist aggressors and worse, or because they cling to the fantasy of a Communist triumph over democracy. The fact that neither of us likes the other system is no reason to refuse to talk. Living in this nuclear age makes it imperative that we do talk. Our commitment to dialog is firm and unshakeable, but we insist that our negotiations deal with real problems, not atmospherics.
In our approach to negotiations, reducing the risk of war, and especially nuclear war, is priority number one. A nuclear conflict could well be mankind's last. And that is why I proposed over 2 years ago the zero option for intermediate-range missiles. Our aim was and continues to be to eliminate an entire class of nuclear arms. Indeed, I support a zero option for all nuclear arms. As I've said before, my dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth.
Last month the Soviet Defense Minister stated that his country would do everything to avert the threat of war. Well, these are encouraging words, but now is the time to move from words to deed. The opportunity for progress in arms control exists. The Soviet leaders should take advantage of it.
We have proposed a set of initiatives that would reduce substantially nuclear arsenals and reduce the risk of nuclear confrontation.
The world regrets -- certainly we do -- that
the Soviet Union broke off negotiations on intermediate-range nuclear forces
and has not set a date for the resumption of the talks on strategic arms
and on conventional forces in Europe. Our negotiators are ready to return
to the negotiating table to work toward agreements in INF, START, and MBFR.
We will negotiate in good faith. Whenever the Soviet Union is ready to
do likewise, we'll meet them halfway.
We seek to reduce nuclear arsenals and to reduce the chances for dangerous misunderstanding and miscalculations, so we have put forward proposals for what we call confidence-building measures. They cover a wide range of activities. In the Geneva negotiations, we proposed to exchange advance notification of missile tests and major military exercises. Following up on congressional suggestions, we also proposed a number of ways to improve direct channels of communications. Last week, we had productive discussions with the Soviets here in Washington on improving communications, including the hotline.
Now these bilateral proposals will be broadened at the conference in Stockholm. We're working with our allies to develop practical, meaningful ways to reduce the uncertainty and potential for misinterpretation surrounding military activities and to diminish the risk of surprise attack.
Arms control has long been the most visible area of U.S.-Soviet dialog. But a durable peace also requires ways for both of us to diffuse tensions and regional conflicts.
Take the Middle East as an example. Everyone's interest would be served by stability in the region, and our efforts are directed toward that goal. The Soviets could help reduce tensions there instead of introducing sophisticated weapons into the area. This would certainly help us to deal more positively with other aspects of our relationship.
Another major problem in our relationship with the Soviet Union is human rights. Soviet practices in this area, as much as any other issue, have created the mistrust and ill will that hangs over our relationship. Moral considerations alone compel us to express our deep concern over prisoners of conscience in the Soviet Union and over the virtual halt in the emigration of Jews, Armenians, and others who wish to join their families abroad.
Our request is simple and straightforward: that the Soviet Union live up to its obligations. It has freely assumed those obligations under international covenants, in particular its commitments under the Helsinki accords.
Experience has shown that greater respect for human rights can contribute to progress in other areas of the Soviet-American relationship. Conflicts of interest between the United States and the Soviet Union are real, but we can and must keep the peace between our two nations and make it a better and more peaceful world for all mankind.
Our policy toward the Soviet Union -- a policy of credible deterrence, peaceful competition, and constructive cooperation -- will serve our two nations and people everywhere. It is a policy not just for this year, but for the long term. It's a challenge for Americans; it is also a challenge for the Soviets. If they cannot meet us halfway, we will be prepared to protect our interests and those of our friends and allies.
But we want more than deterrence. We seek genuine cooperation. We seek progress for peace. Cooperation begins with communication. And, as I've said, we'll stay at the negotiating tables in Geneva and Vienna. Furthermore, Secretary Shultz will be meeting this week with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko in Stockholm. This meeting should be followed by others, so that high-level consultations become a regular and normal component of U.S.-Soviet relations.
Our challenge is peaceful. It will bring out the best in us. It also calls for the best in the Soviet Union. We do not threaten the Soviet Union. Freedom poses no threat. It is the language of progress. We proved this 35 years ago when we had a monopoly on nuclear weapons and could have tried to dominate the world, but we didn't. Instead, we used our power to write a new chapter in the history of mankind. We helped rebuild war-ravaged economies in Europe and the Far East, including those of nations who had been our enemies. Indeed, those former enemies are now among our staunchest friends.
We can't predict how the Soviet leaders will respond to our challenge. But the people of our two countries share with all mankind the dream of eliminating the risk of nuclear war. It's not an impossible dream, because eliminating these risks are so clearly a vital interest for all of us. Our two countries have never fought each other. There's no reason why we ever should. Indeed, we fought common enemies in World War II. Today our common enemies are poverty, disease, and above all, war.
More than 20 years ago, President Kennedy defined an approach that is as valid today as when he announced it. ``So let us not be blind to our differences,'' he said, ``but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved.''
Well, those differences are differences in governmental structure and philosophy. The common interests have to do with the things of everyday life for people everywhere. Just suppose with me for a moment that an Ivan and an Anya could find themselves, oh, say, in a waiting room, or sharing a shelter from the rain or a storm with a Jim and Sally, and there was no language barrier to keep them from getting acquainted. Would they then debate the differences between their respective governments? Or would they find themselves comparing notes about their children and what each other did for a living?
Before they parted company, they would probably have touched on ambitions and hobbies and what they wanted for their children and problems of making ends meet. And as they went their separate ways, maybe Anya would be saying to Ivan, ``Wasn't she nice? She also teaches music.'' Or Jim would be telling Sally what Ivan did or didn't like about his boss. They might even have decided they were all going to get together for dinner some evening soon. Above all, they would have proven that people don't make wars.
People want to raise their children in a world without fear and without war. They want to have some of the good things over and above bare subsistence that make life worth living. They want to work at some craft, trade, or profession that gives them satisfaction and a sense of worth. Their common interests cross all borders.
If the Soviet Government wants peace, then there will be peace. Together we can strengthen peace, reduce the level of arms, and know in doing so that we have helped fulfill the hopes and dreams of those we represent and, indeed, of people everywhere. Let us begin now.
Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the East Room at the White House.
Cold War Conundrum: The 1983 Soviet War Scare
By Benjamin B. Fischer, CIA
ABLE ARCHER 83
Another notable incident in 1983 occurred during an annual NATO command post exercise codenamed ABLE ARCHER 83. The Soviets were familiar with this exercise from previous years, but the 1983 version included two important changes:
•In the original scenario (which was later modified), the 1983 exercise
was to involve high-level officials, including the Secretary of Defense
and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in major roles, with cameo
appearances by the President and the Vice President. Such high-level participation
would have meant greater publicity and visibility than was the case during
past runnings of this exercise.
•ABLE ARCHER 83 included a practice drill that took NATO forces through a full-scale simulated release of nuclear weapons.
According to Gordievsky, on the night of November 8 or 9--he was not sure which--the KGB Center sent a flash cable to West European residencies advising them, incorrectly, that US forces in Europe had gone on alert and that troops at some bases were being mobilized. The cable speculated that the (nonexistent) alert might have been ordered in response to the then-recent bomb attack on the US Marine barracks in Lebanon, or was related to impending US Army maneuvers, or was the beginning of a countdown to a surprise nuclear attack. Recipients were asked to confirm the US alert and evaluate these hypotheses.
Gordievsky described the reaction in stark terms:
In the tense atmosphere generated by the crises and rhetoric of the past few months, the KGB concluded that American forces had been placed on alert--and might even have begun the countdown to war.... The world did not quite reach the edge of the nuclear abyss during Operation RYAN. But during ABLE ARCHER 83 it had, without realizing it, come frighteningly close--certainly closer than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.86 [emphasis added]
The ABLE ARCHER story has been told and retold by journalists with inside contacts in the White House and Whitehall.87 Three themes run though the various versions: The US and USSR came close to war as a result of Soviet overreaction; only Gordievsky's timely warning to the West kept things from getting out of hand; and Gordievsky's information was an epiphany for President Reagan, convincing him that the Kremlin indeed was fearful of a US surprise nuclear attack:
Within a few weeks after ...ABLE ARCHER 83, the London CIA station reported, presumably on the basis of information obtained by the British from Gordievsky, that the Soviets had been alarmed about the real possibility that the United States was preparing a nuclear attack against them. [National Security Adviser Robert] McFarlane, who received the reports at the White House, initially discounted them as Soviet scare tactics rather than evidence of real concern about American intentions, and told Reagan of his view in presenting them to the President. But a more extensive survey of Soviet attitudes sent to the White House early in 1984 by CIA director William Casey, based in part on reports from the double agent Gordievsky, had a more sobering effect. Reagan seemed uncharacteristically grave after reading the report and asked McFarlane, "Do you suppose they really believe that? ...I don't see how they could believe that--but it's something to think about." ...In a meeting the same day, Reagan spoke about the biblical prophecy of Armageddon, a final world-ending battle between good and evil, a topic that fascinated the President. McFarlane thought it was not accidental that Armageddon was on Reagan's mind.88
Is Gordievsky's stark description credible? According to a US foreign affairs correspondent, the "volume and urgency" of Warsaw Pact communications increased during the exercise.89 In addition, US sources reported that Soviet fighter aircraft with nuclear weapons at bases in East Germany and Poland were placed on alert.90 But a US expert who queried a number of senior Soviet political and military officials reports that none had heard of ABLE ARCHER, and all denied that it had come to the attention of the Politburo or even the upper levels of the Defense Ministry.91
Moreover, Dobrynin, who argues that the top leadership took the war
threat seriously and devotes several pages in his memoirs to the KAL 007
tragedy, makes no mention of ABLE ARCHER.
An important piece of evidence--the Center's flash message referred to above--is missing from the RYAN cables that Gordievsky published in 1991. ABLE ARCHER 83, it seems, made more of an impression in the White House than in the Kremlin.92 In any event, it was not comparable to the Cuban crisis, when the superpowers were on a collision course, US nuclear forces were on full alert, and--as recently revealed--the USSR had deployed nuclear weapons in Cuba.
The "Iron Lady" and the "Great Communicator"
Did Gordievsky's reporting bring home the message that the war scare in the Kremlin was serious and that it posed a potential danger of Soviet overreaction? Gordievsky and British co-author Christopher Andrew have said so repeatedly. The information Gordievsky provided to the British "was of enormous importance in providing warning of the almost paranoid fear within some sections of the Soviet leadership that President Reagan was planning a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union," according to Andrew.93
Prime Minister Thatcher herself apparently delivered the chilling message to President Reagan, hoping to convince him to moderate his rhetoric and actions. She evidently believed that US policy toward the USSR had become risky and counterproductive by threatening to undermine NATO's consensus on deployment of US intermediate-range missiles. Thatcher also was mindful of the growing strength of the peace movement in Europe and especially in West Germany.
Thatcher publicly urged a shift in policy on 29 September in an address at the annual dinner for the Churchill Foundation Award in Washington, where she knew her remarks would attract media--and White House--attention. Her theme--"we live on the same planet and must go [on] sharing it"--was a plea for a more accommodating Alliance policy that she spelled out in subsequent speeches. She did not, according to a chronicler of the Thatcher-Reagan partnership, pick up the phone or approach Reagan directly, because:
The essence of the partnership at this stage was that the two governments were basing their decisions on much the same evidence and on shared assessments at professional level. In particular, both governments would have had the same intelligence. A critical contribution in this field was made over a period of years by Oleg Gordievsky....94
A US journalist who interviewed British intelligence sources believes Gordievsky's reporting had a significant impact on the White House.95 He adds an interesting twist to the story. The British claimed the KGB was exploiting, and perhaps manipulating, "bluster in Washington" to hype the US threat to Soviet leaders for the KGB's own bureaucratic purposes and interests. London's message to Washington was: stop helping the hawks and start supporting the doves. Whether the British were acting as analysts or spin doctors is open to question. President Reagan says in his memoirs--without reference to British intelligence reports or ABLE ARCHER--that in late 1983 he was surprised to learn that "many people at the top of the Soviet hierarchy were genuinely afraid of America and Americans," and "many Soviet officials feared us not only as adversaries but as potential aggressors who might hurl nuclear weapons at them in a first strike."96
In the broad scheme of things, election-year politics and polls showing that the President's anti-Soviet rhetoric was his highest "negative" with US public opinion probably played the main role in the more conciliatory tone he adopted in early 1984. But the President himself said the war scare was "something to think about." The British intelligence reports appear to have influenced President Reagan--as they were no doubt intended to do--more than they influenced senior White House policy aides, who remained skeptical of the Soviet war scare during 1981-83 and even after Gordievsky had defected and publicly surfaced in 1985.97
War Scare Frenzy in the USSR
In the months following the September 1983 KAL incident, a full-scale war scare unfolded in the USSR. Soviet authorities clearly instigated this through a variety of agitprop activities. Even so, the scare took on a life of its own and threatened to get out of hand before the Kremlin took steps in early 1984 to calm public fears.98
Soviet attacks on President Reagan reached a fever pitch. Moscow compared him to Hitler and alleged that he had ties to the Mafia. The Soviet media hammered home that the danger of nuclear war was higher than at any time since World War II.
Radio Liberty interviews with Soviet citizens traveling abroad suggested that much of the Soviet public was genuinely alarmed. A series of officially sponsored activities at home fed the frenzy. Moscow organized mass "peace" rallies; sponsored "peace" classes in schools and universities; arranged closed briefings on the "war danger" for party activists and military personnel; designated a "civil defense" month; broadcast excerpts from Stalin's famous 1941 speech to troops parading through Red Square on their way to defend Moscow from the approaching German army; and televised a heavyhanded Defense Ministry film that depicted a warmongering America bent on world domination. The Politburo also considered, but rejected, proposals to shift to a six-day industrial workweek and to create a special "defense fund" to raise money for the military.
What were the Soviet leadership's motives? Some observers who have studied the war scare have written it off as political theater--as an elaborate orchestration to release tensions over KAL 007 at home and promote the ongoing Soviet "peace offensive" abroad.99 But it clearly was more than that. The leadership would not have invoked the memory of World War II--which is emotionally charged and had an almost sacred significance for the Soviet people--solely for propaganda purposes. It would not have fueled popular fears about nuclear extinction just to boost morale and influence public opinion abroad.
War Scare in the USSR
We have been hearing a lot of rumors about the possibility of war in the near future. At political information meetings they are saying that the United States is getting ready to attack the Soviet Union, and that we should be prepared for an attack at any moment. From what I could see, those who believed these warnings significantly outnumbered those who didn't. The simple people are very frightened of war.
Soviet citizen interviewed by
Radio Liberty (Munich)
The regime appears to have aggravated popular fears of war for a specific purpose: to prepare the population for the possibility that repeated promises to raise living standards might have to be abandoned in order to increase defense spending in the face of a growing danger of a US military strike on the USSR.100 The Kremlin, it seems, had decided that the only way to make new sacrifices palatable was to play to the public's fears.101 The ploy was a risky one, not only because the Soviet people had come to expect improvements in their living standards, but also because developments in Poland at that time were underscoring how popular unrest could develop into revolt against a Communist regime.
With the improvement in US-Soviet relations after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985, the domestic war scare subsided as quickly as it had emerged. Before it did, however, the leadership apparently felt compelled to allay the public's fears with assurances that the USSR was in a position to deter war and, if necessary, to defend itself. This was further evidence that the war scare was genuinely felt among the populace.
The Enduring Trauma of BARBAROSSA
The Soviet Union and the United States both entered World War II in 1941 as victims of surprise attacks, but the impact of Operation BARBAROSSA--the German codename for Hitler's June 1941 attack on the USSR--was even more of an enduring national trauma than Pearl Harbor was for the United States. The German invasion was the worst military disaster in Russian history.102 It should have been anticipated and could have been countered by the Soviets but was not, mainly because of a failure to interpret indications and warnings accurately.
The connection between ignored warnings and surprise attack has never been forgotten in Moscow. For decades after the war, Soviet leaders seemed obsessed with the lessons of 1941, which were as much visceral as intellectual in Soviet thinking about war and peace.103
The 1941 analogy clearly had an impact on the way RYAN requirements were formulated and implemented. The historical example of Operation BARBAROSSA, moreover, may explain the sense of urgency that KGB officers such as Gordievsky and Shvets attributed to the Kremlin even while these officers themselves discounted the threat. The gap in perceptions may have reflected a gap in generations. Members of the Brezhnev-Andropov generation had experienced the German war firsthand as the formative experience of their political lives. But for the younger generation born just before, during, or after the war, BARBAROSSA was history rather than living memory.
The Soviets' intelligence "failure" of 1941 was a failure of analysis, not collection.104 Stalin received multiple, detailed, and timely warnings of the impending invasion from a variety of open and clandestine sources. But he chose to interpret intelligence data with a best case or not-so-bad-case hypothesis, assuming--incorrectly--that Hitler would not attack without issuing an ultimatum or fight a two-front war. Stalin erred in part because he deceived himself and in part because German counterintelligence misled him with an elaborate deception plan.105 Possibly because of this precedent, Stalin's heirs may have decided that it was better to look through a glass darkly than through rose-colored lenses. This, it appears, is why Operation RYAN used an explicit worst case methodology to search for indications and warning of a US surprise attack.
RYAN also seems to have incorporated--or in some instances misapplied--other lessons from 1941. Despite the prowess of his intelligence services, Stalin distrusted clandestinely acquired intelligence, including agent reporting and even communications and signals intercepts.106 He did so because he was convinced that such sources could be controlled by the enemy and corrupted by disinformation--a belief that led him to reject accurate as well as inaccurate information. He insisted that Soviet intelligence look instead for indirect indicators of war planning that could not be concealed or manipulated. He went along, for example, with a proposal by his chief of military intelligence for surveying mutton prices in Nazi-occupied Europe; the intelligence official thought the Germans would need sheepskin coats for winter military campaigning in Russia and, by buying up existing livestock supplies, would flood the market with cheap mutton.107 This deceptively simple indicator turned out to be simply deceptive; Hitler, believing he could defeat the Red Army by the fall of 1941, did not prepare for wintertime operations.
RYAN requirements reveal the same kind of unorthodox thinking. For example, the KGB residency in London was instructed to monitor prices paid for blood at urban donor banks.108 The KGB Center assumed that prices would rise on the eve of war as blood banks scurried to stockpile supplies. But there was a problem with this assumption: British donor banks do not pay for blood--contributions are voluntary. In another such example of RYAN requirements, the KGB residency in London was told to visit meatpacking plants, looking for signs of "mass slaughter of cattle and putting of meat into long cold storage."109 The parallel with Soviet intelligence requirements of 1939-41 is close enough to suggest that the KGB was digging them out of old NKVD (the KGB's predecessor) and GRU files.
Finally, there was another plausible--although unprovable--link between 1941 and 1981. The 1941 disaster was Stalin's fault, but he blamed Soviet intelligence. This left an indelible stain on the Soviet services, and the subject was so sensitive that it could not be discussed openly until the advent of glasnost.110 One motive behind Andropov's decision to launch Operation RYAN in 1981 may have been a determination not to let history repeat itself. Soviet intelligence certainly had a vested interest in promoting a dire threat assessment of US intentions, but professional pride and a wish to avoid being a scapegoat may have been involved as well.
Conclusion: The War Scare Was for Real
The fears that prompted Operation RYAN seemed genuine, even if exaggerated. Ex-Ambassador Dobrynin implied as much to a skeptical US television interviewer in 1995. When the interviewer asked whether Andropov "had really believed" that the Reagan administration might order a first strike, Dobrynin replied: "Make your conclusions from what he [Andropov] said in telegrams to his rezidents."111
The alert was a crash program to create a strategic warning system in response to new challenges the Soviets saw looming on the horizon. That response was panicky but not paranoid. One historian, rejecting the paranoia thesis that has often been used to explain Russian reaction to technologically superior 112 Western military power, captured the point when he wrote: "At various times Russian strategists were acutely fearful. But those fears, although at times extreme, were scarcely insane."113
More Than Just a Scare Tactic
The following remarks were made by former Soviet Foreign Ministry official Sergei Tarasenko at a 1993 conference of former US and Soviet officials:
Around this time [late 1983], [First Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi] Kornienko summoned me and showed me a top-secret KGB paper. It was under Andropov. Kornienko said to me, "You haven't seen this paper. Forget about it." ...In the paper the KGB reported that they had information that the United States had prepared everything for a first strike; that they might resort to a surgical strike against command centers in the Soviet Union; and that they had the capability to destroy the system by incapacitating the command center. We were given the task of preparing a paper for the Politburo and putting forward some suggestions on how to counter this threat not physically but politically. So we prepared a paper [suggesting] that we should leak some information that we know about these capabilities and contingency plans, and that we are not afraid of these plans because we have taken the necessary measures.112
Tarasenko was a senior adviser to Kornienko. He was one of the few officials outside the Soviet intelligence community who had seen the above mentioned KGB paper. His remarks confirm that the Soviet leadership genuinely believed the risk of a US attack had risen appreciably.
Dobrynin has noted that post-Stalin leaders believed the "existing political and social structure of the United States was the best guarantee against an unprovoked first strike against us."114 He claims, however, that in the early 1980s some Soviet leaders, including Andropov, changed their minds. Why? Dobrynin's reply, quoting Andropov, was that President Reagan was "unpredictable." That answer seems too simplistic--and too "un-Soviet" in that it attaches so much weight to personalities--although it is vintage Dobrynin, who seems to view the Cold War largely as an interpersonal interplay among Soviet and American leaders he knew.
To reduce the war scare to Andropovian paranoia and Reaganite rhetoric is too facile. Otherwise RYAN would not have outlasted both leaders, the KGB, and the changes in US-Soviet relations that led to the end of the Cold War.115 The Kremlin's thinking was shaped by adverse trends, not just adversarial personalities--that is, by its pessimistic assessment of the "correlation of forces" and the ever-widening gap in the USSR's technological lag behind the West. Soviet leaders knew that their nation was no longer even running in place on the treadmill of history; it was beginning to fall back. In this atmosphere, Soviet officials and much of the populace felt vulnerable to the prospect of a US attack.
Many Western observers dismissed the intelligence alert and the subsequent war scare because they considered its worst case scenario--surprise nuclear attack--as out of touch with reality or just plain irrational. They based their view more on their certainty that there was no objective threat of a US attack--Reagan was not Hitler, and America does not do Pearl Harbors--than on their uncertain understanding about how the Soviets saw things. While Western observers were half-right in questioning whether the Soviet war scare was "objective" or "rational," they were half-wrong in writing it off as scare tactics. Even fear based on a false threat can create real dangers.
Paradoxically, viewing the Soviet war scare as nothing more than a scare
tactic may have led the West to underestimate another threat--a Soviet
preemptive strike, either as a result of miscalculation or by design to
reverse the adverse "correlation of forces." Was this really a possibility?
Some observers think so.116 For example, Gyula Horn, Hungary's last Communist
foreign minister (and current prime minister), claims that Soviet marshals,
fortified with a little vodka, openly advocated an attack on the West "before
the imperialists gain superiority in every sphere."117 The evidence is
anecdotal but plausible. Whether this threat was real is likely to remain
one of the Cold War's conundrums until or unless still classified documents
someday provide an answer.