In response to: DiCicco on Jones, 'Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War'
Excellent review, excellent points. Especially about the "failure to reliably parse the notion of a prolonged war scare, broadly conceived, from allegations of an acute crisis on the occasion of the Able Archer 83 command post exercise." It really goes to the heart of the debate about Able Archer. In fact, the Soviet military, to the best of my knowledge, always watched large-scale NATO maneuvers in case they were just a cover for an offensive, so one would also want to differentiate between routine response and any features of response in 1983, which were specific to that situation.
A couple of words on the sources used in research. Surprisingly, Gordievski's account is almost always taken at face value without considering the possibility that he could be biased (given the nature of his audience). And another on the Vitalii Kataev holdings at the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, which should be approached very carefully with due attention to context and dates of various papers contained there. I recall I was surprised at one point (no longer remember the citation details) to see a document from his archive with R&D proposals treated as a valid policy paper, whereas in fact that was his own draft that went nowhere or at least did not have impact on policy decisions.
Senior Fellow at CNS
Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey
. Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky, KGB: The Inside Story of Its Foreign Operations from Lenin to Gorbachev (New York: HarperCollins, 1990)