The Superpowers and Nuclear Arms Control: Rhetoric and Reality

By Dennis Menos | Go to book overview

Preface

As the undisputed superpowers of our day the United States and the Soviet Union shoulder many responsibilities; none, however, is more elemental than the need to arrest and reverse the nuclear arms race.

In this, their paramount role, the superpowers have failed beyond belief. Forty-four years after Hiroshima, not a single nuclear weapon, judged by them as necessary for their "national security," has been eliminated--the nuclear arsenals of the superpowers are larger, better equipped, and more deadly--mankind is at greater risk than at any prior time.

Recognizing that nuclear weapons can never really be abolished, is a nuclear age maxim that the superpowers are having great difficulty accepting. Their declared long-range goal of "total and complete disarmament," their search for defenses ultimately to make nuclear weapons "impotent and obsolete" are evidence of a pointless superpower search for easy solutions to the very difficult problem of controlling the nuclear arms race. They demonstrate also the superpowers' reluctance to accept the undisputed maxim of the nuclear age, that having invented the nuclear bomb, they must now assume responsibility for its future safekeeping. Any hope of mankind living again in a world free of nuclear weapons is not only unrealistic but plain foolish.

Their solemn declarations notwithstanding, the superpowers are also having great difficulty accepting the notion that a nuclear war should never be fought. This is not to suggest that the United States and the Soviet Union are eagerly anticipating nuclear war. Far from it; they both share an overriding desire to avoid a nuclear holocaust. Still, the superpowers are preparing for the eventuality of nuclear war with as high a degree of urgency as ever before, pursuing strategies that could lead to mutual suicide and

-ix-

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