The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

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

PREPARATIONS FOR PROGRESS

by RICHARD. J. BARNET

Disarmament has seemed so fundamentally at odds with the hard facts of a divided world that it is widely regarded as a utopian solution. The question is, however, whether disarmament is any more utopian a means of preserving peace than the mechanism of deterrence on which we have put such great reliance. The success of each appears to require a basic change in existing patterns of behavior. Peace through disarmament would demand a willingness to look for security through means other than military power; peace through deterrence, a willingness to accept permanently a threatening status quo. Historical support for each alternative is pessimistic, although perhaps less conclusive in regard to disarmament since so little has been tried. Deterrence by threat of violence--our historical legacy--has never prevented war. Unilateral disarmament and the few cautious steps towards mutual disarmament that have been taken have never prevented war either.

To be "for" or "against" disarmament in our world, therefore, seems a singularly unrealistic approach. Neither the military planner who sees no end to the arms spiral nor the pacifist who calls upon the world to make itself over by a sheer act of will offers any practical basis for progress towards peace. To tell the world to go on making and testing nuclear weapons is like telling a drunk to go on drinking. To say "there has got to be progress on disarmament" is as fruitful as telling the drunk to pull himself together.

It is difficult to envisage much progress on disarmament until we stop treating it as a theoretical problem and recognize that it is an approach to salvation that is peculiarly appropriate to our own world. This does not mean that disarmament will necessarily work, but it does mean that it is worth the kind of research we are quite willing to devote to marketing techniques, satellite construction, or refinements of the atomic bomb. Valuable research has already been completed on aspects of inspection, but the mechanics of the disarmament treaty represent only one phase of the problem and by no

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