Arms Control and Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Policies and the National Interest

By W. Gray Nichols; Milton L. Boykin | Go to book overview

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Introduction: The Recent History of American-Soviet Arms Control Negotiations

George M. Seignious, II

In the Carter Administration, arms control was such a centerpiece of expectations by the American people that most ended up disappointed. It is too easy for governments and for citizens to be overly optimistic about what can be obtained through measures of arms control. While increases in armaments add to distrust, they are basically caused by distrust. The closed Soviet society with its atmosphere of secrecy and its ideology of continuing struggle against all that are not a part of the socialist camp is in fundamental conflict with the Western and non-allied nations which are attached to the concepts of individual freedom, open societies, responsible government, the rule of law, and peaceful settlement of disputes. This fundamental mutual opposition, even rivalry, and the resultant distrust, are at the very core of East-West relations, and give rise to increasing danger as both sides seek to maintain and improve their military forces, both conventional and nuclear. The very measures perceived by one side as necessary for defense are all too often taken for offensive measures by the other and contribute to a higher sense of instability, a wariness, and a lack of confidence that the future can hold any safety or well-being for the human race. If one side should obtain or even pursue a perceived advantage, the other may, and usually does, either seek similar weaponry, take defensive measures, or pursue further countermeasures to negate the advantage that the other side has achieved, or is perceived to have achieved. One side could, on the other hand, impel the other to look for security through negotiations and substitute what they perceive to be an inadequacy for redress under a negotiating process. To let you understand that this isn't a new perception about the seriousness of the situation we are in, I want to quote from a speech made by a great American at St. Alban's School in Washington on November 5, 1957, almost 30 years ago.

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