The Importance of Diplomacy

The Importance of Diplomacy

Access the Winter 2022 issue of Orbis here.

IN REVIEW, Rose Gottemoeller, Negotiating the New Start Treaty, Cambria Press, 2021.

In her book, Negotiating the New Start Treaty, Rose Gottemoeller provides a compelling first-hand account of the negotiation process that led to the signing and ratification of the New Start Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) continued the process to reduce United States’ and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals, captured in the original Start Treaty. New Start entered into force in February 2011 for a period of ten years and recently was extended for another five years by U.S. President Joseph Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The importance of this treaty for non-proliferation and strategic stability talks between the two countries cannot be overstated, particularly after the collapse of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). More recently, the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) small but growing nuclear arsenal elevates this treaty’s relevance for arms control in the future. Gottemoeller’s insightful book will be extremely helpful for understanding what the next set of negotiations involving these issues might look like.

Gottemoeller offers more than just an informative account of her experience as the lead negotiator for the New Start Treaty. Working under the tremendous time pressure to renew the treaty before its expiration, the author provides critical perspective on negotiations with the Russians, as well as the U.S. government, particularly the U.S. Senate. The book includes relevant snapshots of the geopolitical scene at the time. It further offers important context of the strategic logic behind the tussles over technical issues by various actors and stakeholders. To outsiders, some of these issues might seem trivial, but they are not. By explaining why Russians and Americans held different approaches to how to undertake such seemingly mundane things as “counting” warheads, the author illustrates why it is critical to understand the basics of each side’s force posture and attendant strategies.

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