Arms Control and European Security

By Graeme P. Auton | Go to book overview
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Otto Pick makes substantially the same argument about the Soviets in Chapter 4 of the present volume. Likewise, some American observers have seen the real benefit of strategic arms reduction (START) talks as lying in the imposition of constraints on the further development of Soviet strategic delivery systems, particularly "heavy" and land-mobile ICBMs. In short, arms control may at times fulfill the purpose of preventing changes in the international strategic system that are damaging to ones own interests and that redound to the benefit of an adversary.

The point here is that governments pursue arms-control measures, not only because they seek to promote one or more of the formal goals of arms control outlined above, but also because such measures may further their particular domestic political, foreign policy, and strategic ends. Arms control, in short, is a tool of national strategy. There is nothing necessarily wrong in this. If there is anything that this discussion and the ensuing essays in this volume should make clear, it is that arms control cannot be divorced conceptually from the complex web of political and strategic interests that states pursue as they try to cope with the perceptual fog of an anarchical international system. In the 1990s this will be nowhere more true than in the rapidly changing circumstances of European security. History demonstrates that the significance of technical arms limitation agreements is frequently of short duration. If, however, the more broadly denominated process of arms control can help Europe and the superpowers escape the cycle of suspicion and reorient their foreign and domestic policies in a fundamentally new direction, it will have served a very important purpose.

See Marcus Raskin, "Abolitionists and Prudentialists," The Nation, 7-14 August 1982, pp. 105-108.
See the essays of--and some of the literature cited by--the contributors to Carolyn M. Stephenson, ed., Alternative Methods for International Security ( Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1982).
See Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret ( Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1976).
Inis Claude, Swords into Plowshares ( New York: Random House, 1956), pp. 295-96.
Hedley Bull, "Disarmament and the International System," in John Garnett , ed., Theories of Peace and Security ( London: Macmillan, 1970), p. 137.
Donald Brennan, "Setting the Goals of Arms Control," in Donald Brennan , ed., Arms Control, Disarmament and National Security ( New York: George Braziller, 1961), p. 31.
Daniel Colard, Le desarmament ( Paris: Library Armand Colin, 1972), p. 17.
Alva Myrdal, The Game of Disarmament: How the United States and Russia Run the Arms Race ( Manchester: University of Manchester Press, 1977), p. xiv.


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