Much of the debate was not about the value of arms control, but about the value of alliances in U.S. foreign policy. Take, for example, Kissinger’s thinking. There were serious deficiencies within the U.S.-Soviet agreement, but the prospect of rejecting the treaty was unpalatable because of the crisis it would unleash within the Atlantic alliance.
Kissinger’s view was a staple among those who valued American alliances. While some who subscribed to this vision of the world came down on the other side of the treaty, they fundamentally embraced Kissinger’s priorities.
At the end of the day, the Senate ratified the INF Treaty by an overwhelming 93 to 5 margin. And many within Reagan’s own foreign policy team, known for their skepticism of arms control deals, came out in favor of the treaty. Helms’s charges that Reagan was soft on communism and had become the Neville Chamberlain of his day gained little traction. After all, most remembered Reagan as the staunch Cold Warrior who had denounced the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” in 1983.