Committee on the Present Danger Newsletter Item

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A detailed finding aid to the records of the Committee on the Present Danger has recently been completed.  These voluminous records came to the Hoover Institution Archives a number of years ago.  Because of their large size and lack of arrangement effective scholarly use of them has until now been impaired.  After thorough arrangement and description this is no longer the case.

The Committee on the Present Danger was formed in 1976 in response to concerns that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in the arms race.  The negotiation of arms control treaties, beginning with the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty I (SALT I) in 1972 and proceeding to SALT II in 1978, led to fear that the United States might be frozen into a position of inferiority.  The Committee launched a strong campaign in opposition to ratification of SALT II, issuing a series of polemical pamphlets and position papers, and commissioning a series of public opinion polls, to support its case.  It continued to lobby for a strong defense posture during the presidential administration of Ronald Reagan, who had himself accepted membership on the Committee.

Those who attribute to the arms race a hastening of the collapse of the Soviet Union will be particularly interested in tracing the influence of the Committee on Reagan administration defense policy.  The records document the course of the Committee’s public acts and private deliberations throughout its existence until its dissolution in 1992.