HomeUnited StatesOffice of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute  Release of Foreign Relations of the United...

Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute  Release of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume IV, National Security Policy – United States Department of State

This volume is part of a subseries of volumes of the Foreign Relations series that documents the foreign policy decision making of the administration of President Jimmy Carter. It focuses on the Carter administration’s efforts to modernize U.S. nuclear and conventional forces; undertake a comprehensive net assessment of the global balance of power; craft national security strategies; sustain the NATO alliance; preserve telecommunications security; devise a system for crisis management; prepare for national emergencies; and update nuclear war planning. Documentation is also included on budget decisions that initially reflected the Carter administration’s efforts to cut spending without damaging national security. 

At the core of this volume is the Carter administration’s efforts to reduce the prospects of a nuclear war. While the president aspired to sign arms control agreements that he hoped would deaccelerate the nuclear arms race, he and top members of his administration also wanted to strengthen nuclear deterrence with respect to the Soviet Union amidst relentless domestic political criticism—and allied concern—that they were not doing enough. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979, Carter withdrew from Senate consideration the unratified SALT II Treaty that he and Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev signed earlier that year. Meanwhile, nuclear attack false alarms in November 1979 and June 1980 intensified preexisting White House concerns about U.S. command, control, and communications, and accentuated the prospect that a nuclear war could happen by accident. The volume includes documentation on the preparation of three subsequent Presidential Directives: PD–58, “Continuity of Government,” which President Carter signed on June 30, 1980; PD–59, “Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy,” which he signed on July 25, 1980; and PD-62, “Modifications in U.S. National Strategy,” which he signed on January 15, 1981. 

This volume was compiled and edited by James Graham Wilson. The GPO S/N is 044-000-02704-6; the ISBN is 978-0-16-095832-8. For further information, contact the Office of the Historian at history@state.gov. 

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