Preventing World War III, Some Proposals

Preventing World War III, Some Proposals

Preventing World War III, Some Proposals

Preventing World War III, Some Proposals

Excerpt

The increasing awareness of the dreadful implications of modern military technology has stimulated considerable thinking and discussion about how to reduce to a minimum the dangers inherent in modern weapons. In contemporary discussions, some scholars place their emphasis on unilateral and some on bilateral actions; some stress arms control, while others stress disarmament as an objective. To understand much of the current discussion, the meaning of the foregoing terms must be grasped.

Unilateral action is action that can be taken by either side, with or without the agreement or cooperation of the other side. Thus, the likelihood of war would diminish if either side were to develop sufficient control over its military forces so as to lessen the possibilities that nuclear weapons would be used as a result of accident, insanity, mischief, or misunderstanding. Similarly, the chances of a nuclear catastrophe would lessen if either side were able to make its military forces relatively invulnerable so that the other side would not be tempted to initiate a surprise attack. Invulnerability would also lessen the need for hasty decisions to use one's weapons before they were destroyed by the other side. Efforts to achieve better control over one's forces and to increase their invulnerability are often referred to as stabilizing the deterrent. (The term "deterrent" is used by some authors as a shorthand to express the questionable notion that war can be deterred by making a potential aggressor afraid of the possibility of a devastating nuclear retaliation.)

Most authorities doubt that the nuclear "deterrents" can be stabilized by unilateral actions alone. Agreements with the other side appear to be necessary to end the arms race and to prevent unexpected technological developments from unstabilizing the "stable deterrent." For the past fifteen years, the East and the West have attempted un-

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