cover image: Interview with David Aaron, 1986


Interview with David Aaron, 1986


David Aaron was the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from 1977 to 1981. In the interview he discusses the Carter Administration’s attempts to develop a strategic arms agreement with the Soviet Union, using the “normal National Security Council machinery” and the Cabinet level Special Coordinating Committee. He explains the issues surrounding the development and eventual deployment of the MX missile, and compares the Carter Administration’s strategies to those of the Reagan Administration’s, including both presidents’ initial desire to implement dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons systems, and concerns about the vulnerability of US ICBMs. He also assesses the importance of the SALT Treaty. Aaron goes on to discuss the 1978 war between Ethiopia and Somalia, including Cuba’s involvement, and its impact on the way people perceived the Soviet Union’s strategy as one of grand design versus opportunistic seizures of power. A key concept that arose in the context of regional conflicts, Aaron explained, was that of linkage with arms control. On a similar topic, he describes Soviet and Chinese concerns about their respective relations with Washington, and more generally the impact of US and Soviet relations with other countries including China, Cuba, and Afghanistan. He specifically deals with the significance of Soviet involvement in regional crises such as Afghanistan (including killing SALT) and Iran, and confirms that the president understood that the Carter Doctrine implied the possibility that nuclear weapons would be used in defense of the Persian Gulf. He also touches on the flap over the Soviet brigade in Cuba, the controversial Presidential Directive 59 (PD-59), and the Neutron Bomb.
horn of africa arms control military weapons intercontinental ballistic missiles international relations neutron bomb nuclear weapons persian gulf soviet union cold war national security council (u.s.) strategic arms limitation talks strategic arms limitation talks ii carter, jimmy 1924 jackson, henry m. (henry martin) 1912-1983 brzezinski, zbigniew 1928 warnke, paul c. 1920-2001 mx (weapons system) vance, cyrus r. (cyrus roberts) 1917-2002 ogaden (ethiopia) deng, xiaoping 1904-1997 brown, harold 1927 nitze, paul h mengistu haile-mariam, 1937


Aaron, David, 1938

WGBH Open Vault
Motion pictures
Place Discussed
Cuba China Afghanistan United States Somalia Iran Ethiopia
Digital Commonwealth
Published in
Local other: V_2DCDDDC6D5DF41F78DFFCA9D3CC8606E
Contact host institution for more information. Rights status not evaluated.
Digital Public Library of America

Related Topics