The War Scare That Wasn't: Able Archer 83 and the Myths of the Second Cold War
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<jats:p> Did the Cold War of the 1980s nearly turn hot? Much has been made of the November 1983 Able Archer 83 command-post exercise, which is often described as having nearly precipitated a nuclear war when paranoid Warsaw Pact policymakers suspected that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was using the exercise to launch a preemptive nuclear strike. This article challenges that narrative, using new evidence from the archives of the former Warsaw Pact countries. It shows that the much-touted intelligence effort to assess Western intentions and capabilities, Project RYaN, which supposedly triggered fears of a surprise attack, was nowhere near operational at the time of Able Archer 83. It also presents an account of the Pact's sanguine observations of Able Archer 83. In doing so, it advances key debates in the historiography of the late Cold War pertaining to the stability and durability of the nuclear peace. </jats:p>
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1162/jcws_a_00952
Publication InfoMiles, Simon (2020). The War Scare That Wasn't: Able Archer 83 and the Myths of the Second Cold War. Journal of Cold War Studies, 22(3). pp. 86-118. 10.1162/jcws_a_00952. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21419.
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Assistant Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Simon Miles joined the faculty of the Sanford School of Public Policy as an Assistant Professor in 2017. He is a diplomatic historian whose research agenda explores the causes and mechanics of cooperation between states.His first book, Engaging the Evil Empire: Washington, Moscow and the Beginning of the End of the Cold War, explores the root causes of c
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