Europe, Cold War and Coexistence, 1953-1965

By Wilfried Loth | Go to book overview

15

Western Europe and Negotiations on Arms Control: The Anglo-Americans and the Evolving Concept of European Security, 1963-68 1

Marilena Gala

To speak of disarmament negotiations during this period requires that we examine the question of nuclear non-proliferation as a kind of imperative preliminary condition for the success of any other arms control initiative. In fact, especially after the Cuban missile crisis, the necessity of ensuring stability during a crisis and of reducing the reciprocal fear of a surprise attack found an increasing consensus in both East and West. Arms control, as a concept broader than disarmament, could better serve the purpose of attempting to regulate or stabilize the conflict between East and West and thereby overcoming the divisions of the Cold War. 2

To understand the major Western European countries' attitudes toward and roles in arms control and thus also non-proliferation, the first point to stress is that the negotiations involved the Europeans more as allies of the two superpowers rather than as protagonists themselves. This is not only related to the limited dimensions and reduced threat, if any, posed by the Western European countries' nuclear arsenals but to the essentially political-rather than military-meaning that arms control began to acquire during the 1960s

This was the decade in which the two superpowers gradually agreed on shifting the focus of their security policies away from expansion of their nuclear arsenals-the arms race-to an arms control process aimed first of all at checking the potentially destabilizing spread of national nuclear capabilities. According to this approach, a more stable and thus more secure international context was required in order to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation because effective deterrence between the two blocs required that the two superpowers exercise centralized control over the respective nuclear deterrents.

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