Military Disengagement

February 26, 1958

Report Outline
Neutral Zone Proposals in Summit Talks
Growth of Deadlock Over Western Europe
Disengagement and European Security

Neutral Zone Proposals in Summit Talks

Soviet beating of the drums for Poland's plan to mark out a denuclearized zone in Central Europe makes that scheme a leading candidate for discussion if and when East and West heads of government get together in conference. The sharp tone of President Eisenhower's latest letter to Soviet Premier Bulganin, and objections raised to the Soviet approach to a top-level parley, seemed calculated to cool Kremlin enthusiasm for such a meeting. However, when Red leaders make up their minds that something is in their interest, they are not easily deterred. The United States and Great Britain already have removed one obstacle to a summit session by withdrawing earlier insistence on a preliminary meeting of foreign ministers.

Western willingness to consider a heads-of-government conference—after the disappointing results of the Geneva conference in 1955 and the persisting deadlock in general disarmament negotiations—may be attributed in large part to pressure exerted by public opinion and by opposition political parties in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. The heavy weight of the arms burden, weariness over the never-ending East-West struggle, and impatience at the failure of those in power to dispel the threat of atomic doom have disposed many Europeans to favor any action which conceivably may put more promise in the future. The same feeling of frustration has assured a wide hearing for Poland's proposed atom-free zone and for plans to pull apart or disengage the potentially hostile forces facing each other in various parts of the world.

First suggested in the West, the idea of military disengagement was almost immediately adopted by the Soviet Union as the theme of its campaign for a summit meeting. Conceptions of what “disengagement” actually entails (whether prohibition of nuclear weapons, withdrawal of foreign troops, or formal neutralization) and where it would take place (whether in East and West Germany, a reunified Germany, a wider area from Norway to Italy, or across the world in Korea) vary with the advocate. But proponents of disengagement are one in saying that the present world arms race must be curbed. They are fearful that plans to establish ballistic missile bases in Western Europe and to meet any aggression with nuclear retaliation greatly enhance the risk of atomic holocaust.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S.-Soviet Relations
Sep. 14, 1990  The Western Alliance After the Cold War
Feb. 10, 1989  Soviet Trade: In America's Best Interest?
Nov. 01, 1985  U.S.-Soviet Summitry
Jul. 09, 1982  Controlling Scientific Information
May 25, 1973  Trends in U.S.-Soviet Relations
Apr. 05, 1972  Russia's Diplomatic Offensive
Feb. 09, 1972  Trading with Communist Nations
Mar. 10, 1971  Indian Ocean Policy
Apr. 21, 1965  Negotiations with Communists
Nov. 13, 1963  Scientific Cooperation with the Soviet Union
Oct. 03, 1963  Trade with the Communists
Sep. 11, 1963  Non-Aggression Pacts and Surprise Attack
Oct. 11, 1961  East-West Negotiations
Mar. 29, 1961  Russia and United Nations
Aug. 10, 1960  Challenged Monroe Doctrine
Sep. 02, 1959  American-Soviet Trade
Jul. 03, 1959  Cultural Exchanges with Soviet Russia
Aug. 11, 1958  Conference Diplomacy
Jul. 23, 1958  Limited War
May 14, 1958  Cold War Propaganda
Feb. 26, 1958  Military Disengagement
Feb. 20, 1957  Indirect Aggression
Jul. 25, 1956  Trading with Communists
Jan. 11, 1956  Economic Cold War
Nov. 26, 1954  Peaceful Coexistence
Dec. 01, 1953  Tests of Allied Unity
Sep. 18, 1953  Negotiating with the Reds
Jun. 17, 1953  East-West Trade
Apr. 12, 1951  Non-Military Weapons in Cold-War Offensive
Apr. 20, 1949  Mediterranean Pact and Near East Security
Apr. 28, 1948  Trade with Russia
Sep. 11, 1946  Loyalty in Government
Jul. 31, 1946  Arctic Defenses
Apr. 01, 1943  American and British Relations with Russia
Feb. 24, 1933  Soviet-American Political and Trade Relations
Nov. 03, 1931  Russian-American Relations
Feb. 14, 1924  Russian Trade with the United States
Arms Control and Disarmament
Diplomacy and Diplomats
U.S. at War: Cold War