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

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

8

The Nuclear Pentalogue

Jack R. Perry

When thinking of the perplexing world of nuclear weapons, we Americans all too often have in mind a simple dialogue between ourselves and the Soviet Union. We tend to ignore the nuclear capacities of Great Britain, France, and China, to belittle the role of nuclear-capable states like India and others close behind her, and to assume that nuclear proliferation will not occur. We prefer to imagine that important allies of both the United States and the Soviet Union, countries which have renounced nuclear weapons, do not have a vital interest or a voice in their dispensation. We succeed in closing our ears to the voices of other countries, other peoples.

In reality, the politics of nuclear weapons is several-sided. Rather than a nuclear dialogue, we are in a “nuclear pentalogue, ” if I may be permitted the expression: a five-sided dialogue about the critical nuclear dilemma. The five participants are, first and second, the United States and the Soviet Union; third, the American allies in Western Europe and Japan; fourth, the Soviet allies in Eastern Europe; and fifth, the rest of the world. My contention is that the “other” participants in this multivoiced conversation have important positions and interests which affect the central nuclear challenge and which make a lessening of the nuclear danger more complex than we like to admit. Let us consider in turn the positions of each of the five great actors in the nuclear drama.


THE UNITED STATES

If oversimplification is allowed, a popularly accepted American view of its place in the nuclear era might be put thus:

We developed the A-bomb because of the Nazi danger and we used it on Japan to end the war. We offered to put atomic weapons under international control but the Soviets refused. We

-61-

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