To that the plan would give the Americans

To what extent was the Strategic Defense Initiative vital to ending the Cold War through the asymmetric response of the USSR? March 23rd, 1983, the Soviet Union, as well as the rest of the world, watched the United States president, Ronald Reagan, discussing the implications of the Strategic Defense Initiative and the military budget in which he put out earlier that year. The first results of the speech displayed a very negative reaction from the USSR. They argued that the plan would give the Americans the far-reaching capabilities to strike first and it would undermine the Soviet Union’s weaponry. This feeling is further strengthened by the underlying weakening of Soviet deterrence that the U.S. would instill, leading the Soviet Union to stunt peace talks and agreements. The overall willingness of the United States and the Soviet Union contributes the main factor in which ended the long confrontation of the Cold War. Therefore, the Strategic Defense Initiative was not imperative for furthering the dismantle of USSR and ultimately complicated talks on arms control.  Furthering the conflict of the imposed plan, Regan was determined to deploy intermediate range missiles in Europe, a threat the Soviets took seriously as this could give the United States more potential to attack with more haste (Michael Dobbs, 1994, p. 67.). The addition of the deployment and to the defense plan created an obvious correlated effort, to the Soviet Union, in which the United States was unilaterally shifting the existing balances. The result provided the USSR the justification to renounce the 1984 peace talks, as long as space weapons, which the Strategic Defense Initiative program included, and the comprisal of the intermediate missiles was on the table for discussion. Before the program became more coherent, we see that it already created a stagnant push towards lessening tensions, in fact pushing the U.S.- Soviet relations to weaken, seen politically and militarily. Hence, the defense industry was eager to seize the opportunity to advance through the U.S. initiative (B. P. Vinogradov, 2002, interview). Because the defense industry was motivated by the Strategic Defense Initiative program, the USSR did not take the program as a major threat, merely, it was an initiative to help increase weaponry through military budget.  There is a strong indication that these industries did not see the initiative as a new program or fundamentally opposed to that in which they had already carried out. The missiles destabilizing effects played essentially no role, based on how previous programs showed a little reaction for there to discern on the government’s action. Leading up to further implementations of the U.S. initiative, the Soviet Union did not change their course or their stance on peace agreements and arms control (Evangelista, Unarmed Forces, p. 241-242). As a result, by the summer of 1985, the Soviet defense industry had prepared its own program for its asymmetric response, ultimately showing that the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative had not advanced agreements or showed any improvement in ending the long confrontation. Instead, it pushed the USSR and the U.S. farther back by heightening the opposition on peace talks and did not suppress any confrontation between the two sides.   The Strategic Defense Initiative has sometimes been credited for resuming the reduction of armaments, mostly because the Soviet Union hesitated to negotiate unless they could cover space weapons. The USSR did indeed insist on banning space-related weapons before talks of offensive equipment, however, this understanding was correspondingly the belief that the reductions in offensive weapons would remain unobtainable if there were no limits on the defenses. The Strategic Defense Initiative was not of specific concern, other than it was a plan designed as a confrontation for space defense systems. The USSR’s insisted topic of space weaponry eventually had to be approved by the United States if they wish to contribute further to ending strong-arm policies. “Gorbachev demanded the space test be banned, which concludes the immediate danger of any offensive or defensive capabilities that the Strategic Defense Initiative finds successful, must not be used, suppressing the Strategic Defense Initiative and limiting the programs” (Mira Duric, 2003)  If the United States were to not abide, the policy of negotiation that Reagan took on between the Soviet Union in 1985 would be undermined, proving that the 1983 initiative was insignificant to coming to terms with ending the Cold War.  The height of the implementation of the programs can be distinguished from 1985 when the Soviet responded to the U.S. initiatives through “umbrella” programs. These consisted of projects that fixated on research and development of specific systems ready for flight tests. The D-20 program and the SK-1000 program are examples of what came out of the created projects. They covered defense missiles on the ground and in space, which were to counter and match that of the United States. The importance of the two umbrella programs indicated a major commitment to the development of a broad range of missile defense and space weapons technologies of the USSR. The defense industry was clearly taking advantage of the situation created by the U.S. initiative to increase the levels of funding and get access to additional resources for its programs. Another issue that contributed to the choice to approve this sort of resistance response was actively mentioned within the U.S., which was the likelihood of ending its compliance with the SALT II treaty (Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, 1995, p. 569).  Although the U.S. eventually determined to remain within the treaty limits, talk about ending the pact clearly supported the impression that the structure of arms control treaties was falling apart and needed to be revised. An orthodox view of the initiative claims that the program confronted the Soviet Union with the prospect of a strategic competition in a new area, one that would concentrate on the technologies in which the United States had an advantage over their economies. This would push the Soviets into an economic race and would draw out resources, but also  “Reagan’s support for Strategic Defense Initiative ushered in a new era by moving the United States away from the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction and towards a policy that would help to ensure the survival of people should a nuclear attack be launched against U.S. cities” (Jason Saltoun-Ebin, 2011). This claim also would suggest that the Strategic Defense Initiative made the USSR realize that it could not support the technological advancements that the United States pushed for, correspondingly forcing the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union relinquishing. However, the asymmetric response displays that the Soviet Union were taking countermeasures against the Strategic Defense Initiative and ultimately were pushing for talks on reduction. Already having a pre-emptive strike in a nuclear war seemed to be advantageous, the peace agreements needed to be discerned and the Strategic Defense Initiative program seemingly failed in its attempts at ending or pushing for the end of the Cold War.  The research provided by the asymmetric response of the Soviet Union ultimately led to the conclusion that the Strategic Defense Initiative could be easily maintained given simple countermeasures. The D-20 and SK-1000 programs had given confidence to the USSR, which eliminates progress to the disarmament process, more so, it was a factor that hindered the Soviet Union to engage in the arms reduction talks or find common ground on the offensive weaponry that the Cold War had presented. An argument used for the Strategic Defense Initiative was the means to devalue USSR’s missile investment, however, if this was true, the programs created from the asymmetric response would show little faith in combating the Strategic Defense Initiative and would have pushed the Soviet Union towards defiance rather than looking for arms control.From an economic standpoint, the Soviet Union had far fewer capabilities than that of the United States. The Brezhnevian Stagnation had a devastating domestic issue within its economy, where worker discipline decreased due to the full employment policy. (Robert Service, 2009) This policy led to government works and offices, being staffed by undisciplined and unproductive personnel. The arms race still waged forward against the United States, the USSR’s immense pressure on an unstable economy was internally destroying the communist nation. Many argue that the Strategic Defense Initiative program had tipped the scale and that the arms race indeed was won by the United States based on economic reasons. However, the programs of 1985 did not bankrupt the USSR. Instead, Gorbachev responded with perestroika, or “restructuring”, which was his economic reform announced in 1985. The program inevitably failed, not due to the military pressure of the United States, but it broke the Soviet Union internally. Tax revenues declined as a result of the local governments withholding from the central government; the elimination of a central control over production decisions caused the breakdown in the consumer sector. Thus, instead of correcting the system, Gorbachev’s decentralization pushed the government to collapse, rather than running out of money trying to keep up with the more advanced the United States in the arms race.  The ending of the Cold War ultimately was the compliance of both nations, rather than an escalation leading to pushing back politically, militarily and economically. The Strategic Defense Initiative gave push back to an already ongoing negotiation-type policy. Without the asymmetric response, the USSR would have proven that the Strategic Defense Initiative was successful, however, the countermeasures opened the peace agreements, not the actual initiative. The economy was not dismantled because of the initiative or any other major expenditures in part of the United States, it was the internal struggle of the consumer sector, seen in Gorbachev’s perestroika. The Soviet Union did not allocate additional funds to combating the SDI program, hence disproving that the program did not push Soviet into bankrupting arms race. The initiative was not successful at opening agreements or important for ending the Cold War.


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