In the October 1987 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, Dr. Edwara Lacey addresses a proposal by Aleksey Arbatov for the creation of sanctuary zones for submarines of the United States and the Soviet Union. These sanctuary zones are sometimes referred to as “zones of peace.” Lacey’s analysis of the reasons why such an idea is good for the Soviet Union and bad for the u.s., is excellent and should be understood by any sailor who might get involved in countering future threats aimed at jeopardizing the freedom of the seas.
There are two points I would like to elaborate on in regard to Lacey’s article. First, to provide some information on Aleksey Arbatov and second, to point out that the Soviets are not the only nation proposing the sanctuary zone concept. There is some support in the U.S. for the idea.
Aleksey Arbatov has an unusually good know-ledge of the U.S. Navy. He can cite model designations of naval aircraft for example, and give their specifics in commendable detail. One story about him may serve to paint a better picture of the young man that Dr. Lacey identifies.
He is in his late thirties I would say, is an attractive individual, very articulate and has excellent command of the English language. He is obviously being groomed for a major role in the Communist Party. At a meeting in Moscow several years ago, I had lunch with Aleksey during which he exhibited some of the arrogance that one might expect. I was authorized by the CNO, to extend an invitation to Aleksey, not only to meet with the CNO but also to witness our carrier operations at sea. The only condition was that I had to go along as escort. The invitation carefully pointed out that a reciprocal invitation was not required or expected. We were just interested in furthering better relations . A young rising Soviet star who knew a lot about the U.S. Navy was a prime candidate for more education, in order to help better relations. As one might expect, the Soviets could not handle such an open U.S. attitude and the visit was never consummated.
Now let me introduce another party to this zone of peace initiative. A 15 January 1966 issue of FREE PRESS INTERNATIONAL carries a lead article reporting on a recent FBI report titled Soviet Active Measures in the United States. 1986 – 1987. According to the article, the FBI report provides an alarming view of large-scale KGB efforts to undermine u.s. arms control policies and the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) . The article also states that the FBI report, for the first time. links the “left-wing Center for Defense Information” directly with KGB disinformation.
In short, I don’t believe it would be out of line to contend that Aleksey Arbatov is probably a key player in the Soviet disinformation program and that he will be a leader in pushing for sanctuary zones.
In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal dated 7 March 1988, Admiral Carlisle Trost, the Chief of Naval Operations, expressed concern about “zones of peace.” He points out that Gorbaohev addressed the subject during a speech in Murmansk in the fall of 1987 — proposing East-West talks aimed at curtailing military activity in the Baltic, North, Norwegian and Greenland Seas, areas vital to the defense of Western Europe and the United States. Gorbaohev’s proposal would eliminate naval and air presence in these northern waters. Trost refers to this action as a “new peace offensive” by the Soviets. He concludes that if it succeeds, “stability will be reduced and our ability to deter Soviet aggression in Europe will be degraded.” So Doctor Lacey is not the only person that thinks Aleksey Arbatov’s idea leaves something to be desired for the good or the Free World.
Unfortunately, however, Aleksey Arbatov and his Soviet counterparts are not alone in their ideas for constraining the movements of submarines and other ships on and under the seas of the world. During some of the United Nations Association meetings with Arbatov’s delegations, the issue or submarine sanctuaries has been advanced by the U.S. team. The objective of the U.S. arms control advocates is to take some kind of action between the two nations that will “stabilize” conditions; create a stand-off that will prevent either side from taking precipitous action, which was well described by Lacey in his article for the SUBMARINE REVIEW. There are some key people in the u.s. arms control community who are terribly concerned about the ballistic missile submarine capabilities of both superpowers and they believe that sanctuary zones may be one way of keeping things stable.
In addition to the above, there have been concrete actions by official u.s. diplomats to constrain the movements of the two superpower navies. Soon after Paul Warnke was installed in office as the head of ACDA, early in the Carter administration, a series or official meetings were held with the Soviets in the conduct of negotiations about creating zones of peace sanctuary zones — in which the operations of both navies would be constrained. Fortunately, one of our modern Navy’s finest gentlemen and statesmen, Vice Admiral Marmaduke Bayne, was the representative of the JCS on the U.S. team. His presence in the negotiating arena eased the concern that many of us had at the time.
Negotiations got pretty serious for awhile. The idea initially was to “demilitarize” the Indian Ocean, which had been a subject of discussion by the United Nation Association – USA in one of their projects on “Controlling the Conventional Arms Race.” “Demilitarizing” changed to “stabilization” — a more palatable term to some of the negotiators. “Ship days”, ship counting and restrictions on aircraft carrier movements were included in the discussions. As I recall, one proposal would have constrained the u.s. to one passage of a carrier per year through the Indian Ocean. Put that in perspective with the operations in the Persian Gulf today, and you begin to get a feel for the long range view that the Soviets take in the business of negotiations andthe short siehted view of some well intentionedbut sometimes almost naive U.S. delegations.Fortunately, the Soviets overplayed their hand with their aggressive actions in Ethiopia and the talks broke off. Sanctuary zones died on the vine for awhile, only to be revived again by the Soviets as Dr. Lacey and Admiral Trost have described.
It is Interesting that during the Indian Ocean negotiations, one key jtem was Diego Garcia. There had been concern by the Soviets that the U.S. would use that island in the Indian Ocean as base for B52 strategic bombers, thereby adding another dimension to the Soviet defense problem. But according to good authority, President Carter had assured Breshnev at a dinner party that the U.S. would not take that action. So the Diego Garcia “bargaining chip” was not even available to the u.s. negotiating team.
The modern day u.s. sailor, particularly the ballistic missile submarine crewman, has a lot of people concerned about the capabilities or the weapons systems he mans. Some or the concerned are the Soviets and they will resort to diplomatic negotiations, disinformation or whatever, to minimize the impact of the capable submarine units or the u.s. However, not all of those concerned are in foreign nations. There are plenty right here at home, many or them with genuine interests and scholarly approaches to the subject. There are also some who will be used by Soviet “dis-information” programs for whatever reason.
Maintaining freedom of the seas has been a battle since the first boat hit blue water I imagine. Contests to keep those seas free will take place on the pages of our newspapers, in front of television cameras, and in the conference rooms or arms control negotiators, more than they will in battles between armed navies on the waters of the world. You have to beware the diplomatic hazards to navigation as well as those purely nautical in nature.