National Security Policy and SALT I, 1969-1972

The Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State and Williams College Present the Second Conference of the Foreign Relations of the United States Special Conference Series

“National Security Policy and SALT I, 1969-1972”
March 2-3, 2012

The Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State and Williams College are pleased to announce a conference marking the publication of the SALT I, 1969-1972 and the National Security Policy, 1969-1972 volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States series. This conference marked the culmination of a broader initiative to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Foreign Relations series and was held at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts from March 2-3, 2012.

These two Foreign Relations volumes contain extensive documentation of many important national security and foreign policy initiatives that laid the foundation for U.S. foreign policy in the post-hegemonic era that began in the 1970s. The SALT I, 1969-1972 volume provides detailed records of arms control policy formulation and implementation. The documentation illuminates both the substantive issues involved in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks as well as the negotiations’ relationship to the broader context of linkage and détente that shaped high-level decision-making. The compilation includes transcripts of taped White House meetings between high-level policymakers and documentation of the Kissinger-Dobrynin back-channel in addition to records illustrating the interagency process that defined U.S. policy and SALT delegation instructions. The volume also contains coverage of White House efforts to secure Congressional support for the final agreements.

The National Security Policy, 1969-1972 volume also covers several significant issues, including the evolution of U.S. missile defense initiatives, efforts to adapt national strategy to a new era of strategic parity with the Soviet Union and the growth of a Chinese nuclear deterrent, the October 1969 Joint Chiefs of Staff Readiness Test, the creation of an all-volunteer armed force, and the challenges of balancing resources and commitments in an atmosphere of declining domestic support for defense spending. Like the SALT I volume, the National Security Policy volume incorporates a wide variety of U.S. Government records to thoroughly document policy formulation at the highest levels.

To explore the major themes of these two volumes, we planned a conference agenda with several complementary components. Paul Wolfowitz and Jeremi Suri delivered opening and closing keynote addresses. One panel, moderated by Edward Brynn of the Office of the Historian, included the volumes’ compilers and general editor discussing their experience preparing the volumes with General Robert Pursley, who served as Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird’s military advisor between 1969 and 1972. We also assembled three interdisciplinary panels, comprised of historians and political scientists, to assess the significance of the events documented in the two volumes as well as the scholarly importance of the documents that they contain. The first of these panels focused on deterrence in an era of parity, covering issues such as nuclear strategy, arms control, missile defense, and intelligence capabilities. A second panel examined problems of perceptions, including intelligence collection and analytical capacities and the difficulties of signaling intentions to allies and adversaries. The third panel covered evolving constraints on U.S. policy, especially declining political, intellectual, and budgetary support for maintaining Cold War capabilities and strategies.


Williams College (Griffin Hall).
Maps and Directions


March 2, 2012 (closed)

Keynote Address by Hon. Paul Wolfowitz, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

March 3, 2012, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m.

8:30 - 10:15 a.m. Panel: Deterrence in an Era of Parity
  • Moderator: Prof. James McAllister, Williams College
  • Dr. William Burr, National Security Archive
  • Prof. Sir Lawrence Freedman, King's College London
  • Prof. Brendan Green, Williams College
  • Prof. Joshua Rovner, U.S. Naval War College
10:15 a.m. Coffee Break
10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. Panel: Problems of Perception
  • Moderator: Dr. Stephen Randolph, Office of the Historian
  • Prof. Richard Immerman, Temple University
  • Prof. Robert Jervis, Columbia University
  • Prof. Melvyn Leffler, University of Virginia
  • Prof. Keren Yarhi-Milo, Princeton University
12:15 p.m. Lunch Buffet
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch Panel: Compiler and Participant Perspectives on FRUS
  • Moderator: Amb. Edward Brynn, Office of the Historian
  • Prof. M. Todd Bennett, East Carolina University
  • Dr. Edward Keefer, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Dr. Erin Mahan, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Gen. Robert Pursley, USAF (ret.)
2:00 p.m. Coffee Break
2:15 - 3:45 p.m. Panel: Evolving Constraints
  • Moderator: Prof. Mark Lawrence, University of Texas
  • Prof. Beth Bailey, Temple University
  • Prof. Thomas Schwartz, Vanderbilt University
  • Dr. Chris Tudda, Office of the Historian
3:45 p.m. Coffee Break
4:00-4:45 p.m. Keynote Address: "SALT I: A Historical Turning Point?" by Prof. Jeremi Suri, University of Texas