The Control of the Arms Race: Disarmament and Arms Control in the Missile Age

By Hedley Bull; Richard Goold-Adams | Go to book overview

2
DISARMAMENT AND THE BALANCE OF POWER

i

THE CHIEF objective of arms control is international security. The contribution which arms control can make to international security is limited by the fact that it deals only with the military factor.

However, there is a military factor, and some military situations are more favourable to international security than others. The question with which this chapter is concerned is: if arms control is concerned to foster military situations favourable to international security, what are these? In particular, how far is disarmament, or the reduction of armaments, the proper object of arms control? And how far is it the proper object of arms control to promote a stable balance of power? The purpose of this analysis is not to provide final answers to these questions; and not, in particular, to demonstrate that the proper object of arms control is to perfect a stable balance or equilibrium of armaments rather than to secure a reduction of armaments. Its purpose is to demonstrate the inadequacy of such prescriptions as 'reduce!' or 'abolish!', and the need to replace them with careful strategic analysis.1 It is not to be assumed (though cases could conceivably arise in which it could be shown) that the answer to the question, 'what levels and kinds of armaments should arms control systems seek to perpetuate and make legitimate?' is the formula, 'the lowest levels and the most primitive kinds'. The conflict between this formula, and the doctrine of the balance of power, which is explored in this chapter, indicates only one of the many respects in which it is inadequate. When we consider -- as we shall in later chapters in relation to particular arms control proposals -- what should be the content of an arms control agreement or system, we must be guided not by any such formula as this, nor by an exclusive concern with the maintenance of the military balance, but by addressing ourselves with determination

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1
The spirit of these prescriptions is expressed in the title of a recent book: Assault at Arms, by Sir Ronald Adam and Charles Judd ( Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1960).

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