Arms Control: Cooperative Security in a Changing Environment

By Costanzo, Charles E. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Arms Control: Cooperative Security in a Changing Environment


Costanzo, Charles E., Air & Space Power Journal


Arms Control: Cooperative Security in a Changing Environment edited by Jeffrey A. Larsen. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc. (http://www.rienner. com), 1800 30th Street, Suite 314, Boulder, Colorado 80301, 2002, 413 pages, $65.00 (hardcover), $24.50 (softcover).

In the years since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, a diverse literature has emerged to explore the manifold implications of this momentous event. This collection of essays compiled by Jeffrey Larsen addresses the arms-control dimension of the post-Cold War era, specifically the search for cooperative security in a global environment that bears marked differences from the period before the Soviet hammer and sickle was lowered for the last time. This anthology, an update of an earlier book-Arms Control toward the Twenty-First Century (1996)-draws upon the insights of several authors who contributed to the original volume, in addition to those of other scholars who bring considerable expertise to bear on this topic. The new book is divided topically into four sections: arms-control concepts and history, weapons-related issues, regional perspectives, and new items on the arms-control agenda.

The contextual setting of arms control is the theme of the book's first section. Michael Wheeler's historical review of arms control is a useful survey for readers new to the literature, as well as a reminder that post-Cold War arms control will continue to be a pervasive part of international relations, although it may take different forms from its antecedents. Schuyler Foerster's essay points out that these new forms will be a function, at least in part, of trends such as the global spread of technology, emergence of new states, and proliferation of state and nonstate actors. Departing from this structural view, Jennifer Sims provides insights into the influence of domestic-level variables on arms control. Using the United States as a case study, she illustrates how strategic culture; political and legal institutions; economic and technological factors; and elites, interest groups, and public opinion will continue to shape US arms-control policy, but in new ways. Clearly, a more complex, dynamic international setting may render traditional verification of treaty-limited activities and items more difficult. Accordingly, Joseph Pilat suggests a greater use of openness, transparency, and confidence-building measures to make arms control more cooperative and less competitive.

Preventing the spread of arms is the focus of the second section of the book. Forrest Waller argues persuasively that a transformation of strategic nuclear arms control will enable this enterprise to play a continuing role in US-Russian relations and elsewhere to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Guy Roberts makes a strong case to sustain the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program with Russia to dispose of excess fissile materials and provide alternative employment for nuclear scientists and engineers. Despite its slow pace and shortfalls, CTR serves US interests by keeping nuclear materials away from terrorists and rogue states. The broader proliferation problem is addressed in three essays by Leonard Spector, Marie Isabelle Chevrier, and Jo Husbands. Spector's examination of diplomatic initiatives to curb nuclear proliferation reveals that these measures have generally been successful and, when balanced with military preparedness, could improve opportunities to deter or defeat nuclear threats. Although the objectives of nuclear arms control overlap in some ways with those of chemical and biological arms control, in other ways they are different due to the nature of the weapons. These differences make chemical and biological arms control more difficult and, in the case of biological weapons, more urgent. Yet, as Chevrier points out, there have been problems implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention and strengthening the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention-problems that may have less to do with technical and legal issues than with political differences among decision makers who perceive divergent paths to national security. …

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