Arms Control and Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Policies and the National Interest

By W. Gray Nichols; Milton L. Boykin | Go to book overview

2

The Future of American-Soviet Arms Control Negotiations: The Strategic Defense Initiative Debate

Kenneth L. Adelman
I am pleased to report that 1984 is behind us. It was many things, but it was not at all the year George Orwell had depicted. Rather, it was a year in which the Soviet-type government continued its downward slide, becoming less—not more—attractive around the globe. Wars in sundry regions troubled us, but the perpetual wars of Orwell's imagination were nowhere upon us. So much the better. Instead, 1984 was most significant in what did not happen by the 15th of May. On that day, the world broke the modern record for length of time without major war. The old record, just short of 39 years, was set between the battle of Waterloo (1815) and the outbreak of the Crimean War (1854). The year marked another significant unfolding: the increasing discourse surrounding—and at times, even enveloping—the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Over the coming years, this subject will surely dominate our discussions on arms control, deterrence, and military strategy, if indeed its domination of our subject is not evident already. Even now it is paramount in the parlors of America dealing with security issues.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
The starting point for any rational discourse on SDI—and many discourses on SDI have not been rational, but have been wrapped in and warped by emotion—is a large dosage of modesty at predicting what science can offer in the future. How many times in our history has human ingenuity overcome human expectations and even predictions. To take just a few examples:
• Thomas Edison forecast:

Fooling around with alternating currents is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever. It's too dangerous…Direct current is safe.

-9-

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