The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview

The Arms Race and Some of Its Hazards

HERMAN KAHN


PREFACE

IT IS EASY TO WRITE GRAPHICALLY AND PERSUASIVELY OF THE DANGERS of the arms race, nuclear and otherwise. Such documents are often well received: the author's heart seems to be in the right place; he is for people and against the abominations science and technology have produced. Yet, this question remains unanswered: Why do nations in general, our own in particular, continue to play such a dangerous and pointless game?

Here we hit on the nub of the matter: the game is indeed dangerous, but not pointless, since not to play it (even to reduce forces or submit to arms control) can also be dangerous: a Pearl Harbor or a Munich is all too possible. If we examine the whole range of possibilities, beginning with unilateral disarmament, surrender, appeasement, or accommodation, and ending with an accelerated arms race, preventive war, Mutual Homicide Pacts, and Doomsday Machines, we discover that there are no pleasant, safe, or even unambiguously moral positions for the individual, for a nation, or for civilization. Unfortunately, the discussions that concentrate on one facet of our dangerous future tend to create a psychological atmosphere conducive to the neglect of the remaining problems of security. This is no reason for not discussing the dangers of the arms race (or any other dangers), but only for emphasizing the ultimate need for a balanced compariason of all the dangers.

I have written elsewhere * on why adequate arms control may be essential if we are to reach 1975 and later years without a major thermonuclear war, while emphasizing that we may also need military establishments of a much higher quality than is usually conceded, even by people who think of themselves as "militarists," and the many difficulties and dangers of arms control. I will not summarize the arguments here. I would only be doing myself a disservice if I did so. This is a difficult, unpleasant, and emotional

____________________
*
This chapter is based in part on my book, On Thermonuclear War ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, December 1960).

-17-

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