The Superpowers and Nuclear Arms Control: Rhetoric and Reality

By Dennis Menos | Go to book overview

2
The Superpowers

Given the enormous nuclear arsenals of the superpowers and the continuous acquisition of bigger and better weapons on both sides, the question logically arises: are the superpowers really serious about nuclear arms control? Are they dedicated to the goal of arresting the nuclear arms race?

If the superpowers are indeed serious about nuclear arms control, as their leaders wish us to believe, and are hard at work trying to reduce and stabilize the strategic balance, why have results to date been so meager? Why is the acquisition of nuclear arms progressing at a faster rate than are the efforts to eliminate them? On the other hand, if the superpowers have concluded that arms control is not for them, why the continued charade of negotiations, summits, proposals, and counterproposals? Why the hoax?

For the superpowers to be able to pursue arms control with a sense of purpose, they need above all a clear understanding of what it is that the process can do for them. Evidence suggests that, despite the superpowers' near-continuous preoccupation with the issue of containing nuclear arms, since the late 1940s, a wide gap still separates their stated goals. The Soviet Union, for instance, has repeatedly proclaimed the abolition of nuclear weapons as its ultimate arms control objective, even though common sense dictates that nuclear weapons can never really be abolished. The U.S. objective, equally flamboyant, aims to make nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete, a condition clearly unattainable. By their stated goals, the superpowers make evident their refusal to grasp the foremost rule of the nuclear age: nuclear weapons can neither be disinvented nor abolished--they are here to stay, and we must learn to live with thern. 1 In this regard, the United States and the Soviet Union are imbued with a special burden: having themselves given birth to these weapons of awesome power, they now share in

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The Superpowers and Nuclear Arms Control: Rhetoric and Reality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • 1 - Enough is Never Enough 1
  • Notes 21
  • 2 - The Superpowers 25
  • Notes 45
  • 3 - The Impotent Opposition 49
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Tearing Down the Few Past Accomplishments 71
  • Notes 90
  • 5 - The Politics of Arms Control 95
  • 6 - The Endless Negotiations 123
  • Notes 141
  • Appendixes 145
  • Selected Excerpts 155
  • Selected Bibliography 165
  • Index 173
  • About the Author 181
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