Jeffrey LewisSMART

When the real life disappoints, as it is wont to do, human beings often take comfort in fiction, imagining an alternate reality where our problems aren’t so daunting and where we aren’t so fallible. We dream, in short, of a better world. Sometimes, those dreams can rekindle our sense of hope or inspire us as to how we might make the real world a little more ideal.

With the demise of the START Treaty, and prospects for a START Follow-On beginning to dim, it is a comfort that the parallel world of simulations is rather rosier. A few days ago, I mentioned that CNS makes very effective use of simulations to educate students.

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies recently completed a student simulation that resulted in the so-called Strategic Mutual Arms Reduction Treaty (SMART).

You can read a summary of the exercise, as well as the SMART Treaty Text, Memorandum of Understandings, and Joint Statements and additional MOUs.

Not only did the students manage the come up with a decent name for the Treaty — who can complain about mutual? — but the virtual Rose Gottemoeller had a rather easier time working out a deal with her Russian counterpart, who accepted continuation of monitoring at Votkinsk and a prohibition on encrypting telemetry after a developmental period for each missile.

I wrote to her, “Your Russian participants must have been teddy bears. How’d you get them to agree to that?” She replied:

Vodka and arm wrestling.

Someone give that kid a job.


  1. Nik

    Thanks for blogging about it. It was a fun exercise. The Russian team won other battles which were more important

  2. Daniel Johnson (History)

    Thanks for posting this Jeffrey, the simulation was awesome. Do you have an opinion on which side came out on top?

  3. USCongressionalLiaisontoSMART (History)

    If by teddy bears, we mean a tenacious and relentless core but a cute and cuddly exterior, I’m willing to accept that definition.

    Thank you, Jeffrey, for highlighting the importance of simulations at CNS. Each student brought talent and specialized knowledge to the negotiating table and made this a fantastic experience.

    I’m looking forward to the discussion that this post will generate.

    PS: CNS will be posting more detailed information soon on SMART.

  4. anonymous

    >>> Vodka and arm wrestling.
    My experience is the US seldom acquires an advantage with the use of either method, and more often winds up with results to our detriment. I’d advise the virtual Rose to stay on the wagon when she gets deals with someone other than virtual Russians.

  5. Jeffrey Lewis (History)

    “Do you have an opinion on which side came out on top?”

    That reminds me of when my friend Adam, now at RAND, and I would play wargames. His wife would always ask “who won?” and Adam would say, “Sarah, it’s war. No one wins.”

    Well, it’s arms control. Both sides win.

  6. Aaron Stein (History)

    Thanks for the post! The US Delegation was extremely pleased that the final version included remote monitoring at Votkinsk and Telemetry.

  7. Suzzette Lopez (History)

    Thanks for following our simulation. I think our Verification working group has now happily decided to go on a winter beach holiday in tune to the DTRA Votkinsk inspection team photo previously posted on ACW.

    virtual DTRA counterpart

  8. Nik

    The Russian delegation was pleased with the limit on both reserved warheads and warheads in storage; de facto death of Prompt Global Strike and reversal of PNIs.

    But I guess everybody won indeed

  9. Patricia Lewis (History)

    The whole thing was fantastic: Bill, Nikolai, both the negotiating teams and the outcome. Thanks also to all those current and former negotiators who talked with the classes and to Richard Rhodes who provided the backdrop with his play Reykjavík in the lead up to the public signing ceremony.

  10. Bruce A. Roth (History)

    Controlling arms is easy when they are just wrestling.

  11. Xiaodong (History)

    So proud to be part of the simulation. Hope everyone of my russian delegation a good fortune.