The Ghost of Missiles Past
The deployment of the Soviet SS-20 missile system in the 1970s and 1980s, and U.S. plans to deploy the Pershing II and Ground Launched Cruise Missile in response, spurred a crisis within NATO over U.S. nuclear deterrence in Europe. Susan Colbourn, associate director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, tells the story of this period in her new book, Euromissiles: The Nuclear Weapons that Nearly Destroyed NATO. In this week’s episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Colbourn describes how concerns over intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe involved much more than just questions of deterrence and superpower competition. As she relates the difficult give-and-take between superpowers and among allies, she highlights the way in which domestic politics, the international anti-nuclear movement, alliance burden sharing, and the structure of political, economic, and military power in Europe all played pivotal roles. This story is an intriguing chapter in NATO’s history that is not widely understood and provides important context as Europe begins to re-arm response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. This event was held at the Clements Center at the University of Texas, Austin.