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Just GRIT and Bear It: A Cold War Approach to Future US-Russia Arms Control


Even at the height of the Cold War, Washington and Moscow found ways to cooperate on nuclear issues. But what brought the two rivals to the negotiating table in the first place? History points to Graduated Reciprocation in Tension-reduction (GRIT), an approach employed by President John F. Kennedy and, later, George H. W. Bush to cut through enemy images and move arms control forward. Today, GRIT could offer a path out of the US-Russia security dilemma towards renewed nuclear engagement. GRIT’s emphasis on self-restraint aligns with cuts to military budgets that will follow from the pandemic. Its use of unilateral, reciprocal steps, meanwhile, could open doors to asymmetric and multilateral arms control modalities.
Keywords: nuclear weapons; arms control; US-Russia relations; GRIT; Cold War