Soviet-American relations stand before one important phase in their evolution since the end of World War II, one that will be as equally significant as the stage which was set into motion by the successful Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the American debacle in Vietnam. The military parity between the United States and the Soviet Union that was institutionalized by Strategic Arms Limitation Talks I in 1972 was clearly recognized, but never publicly stated, by the Soviet leadership as artificial, contrived and ascriptive in character. The Soviet leadership situation has been in a condition of flux and uncertainty for several years, due to its aging character. One conditioning factor is the transformation of the psychological balance brought about by the Soviet achievement of military parity with the United States at the strategic and global level. The ideological imperative has been increasingly linked to Soviet conceptions of defense and security and is defined as military obligation.