By Christoph Bertram (eds.)
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Extra resources for America’s Security in the 1980s
Moreover these new weapons were more accurate and were deployed more rapidly than expected. This rapid, unexpected and major build-up in the Soviet offensive land-based missile force began the process of undercutting US domestic support for the SALT Treaty. The build-up was seen as clearly inconsistent with the spirit of SALT I, if not its letter. Moreover, from a military standpoint, the new weapons represented a serious threat to the US land-based Minuteman ICBM force. For over six years the US attempted to negotiate limits on MIRVed landbased missiles which would control this threat to America's retaliatory capacity.
20 .... ~ "' ~ co 160 10 120 70 72 74 76 Year 78 80 82 The Volatility ofPublic Attitudes Despite evidence that the public supports a more aggressive foreign policy and greater attention to military defence, there is indication that these views may be volatile. For example: - In September 1980, 19% of the respondents in a Harris Poll felt that keeping the US strong was the top priority task of the government. This proportion dropped to 8% in May 1981, only eight months later; - A recent Harris Poll showed a drop in the Public's favourable rating of Reagan's handling of foreign policy, from 54% in February to 48% in July, with 47% giving him an unfavourable rating; - The public support for an active US role in world affairs dropped from 71% in 1956 to 66%in 1974andonly 59% in 1978; - Despite growing suspicion of the USSR polls repeatedly show solid support for arms control.
4 Public opinion polls also reflected these shifts. A CBS-New York Times Poll in early 1978 found that over half of the US public believed that the US should 'get tough' with the USSR. And, as will be discussed later, attitudes on defence spending were changing rapidly too. The most complete assessment of these new views is contained in a publication of the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in early 1980, American Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy, 1979. Public Opinion and Defence Spending Issues Public attitudes to defence spending shifted dramatically during the 1970s.
America’s Security in the 1980s by Christoph Bertram (eds.)