Arms Control toward the 21st Century

By Greene, Jon A. | Naval War College Review, Autumn 1998 | Go to article overview

Arms Control toward the 21st Century


Greene, Jon A., Naval War College Review


Larsen, Jeffrey A., and Gregory J. Rattray, eds. Ams Control toward the 21st Century. Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1996. 348pp. $55

Interest in arms control has risen and fallen in the twentieth century. The idealism that led to a flurry of arms control initiatives after World War I was shattered by the scope and brutality of World War II and the intransigence of the two superpowers early in the Cold War. A more realistic and cautious approach to arms control, which seemed to bear more fruit, emerged in the latter half of the Cold War. It emphasized strategic weapons and viewed arms control as just another tool in the national security toolbox. However, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the perceived diminished threat of global nuclear war resulted in diminished interest in the subject. With the approach of the new century, new security challenges and opportunities have arisen. These, in turn, justify a reexamination of the role of arms control in U.S. national security.

In Arms Control toward the 21st Century, Jeffrey Larsen and Gregory Rattray have compiled a diverse and balanced series of essays that accomplishes such a reexamination. Part One delineates the underlying principles of arms control, beginning with an excellent discussion by Kerry M. Kartchner, "The Objectives of Arms Control"; it also includes articles on the arms control process by Trevor Taylor ("The International Context") and Jennifer Sims ("The U.S. Domestic Context"). Part Two consists of four articles covering the history and continuing impact of Cold War arms control; it includes a thorough review of "Strategic Defensive Arms Control" by Sidney N. Graybeal and Patricia A. McFate. Parts Three and Four focus on current trends: proliferation control regimes, and regional arms control efforts. In Part Three, Jo L. Husbands enumerates the obstacles to successful conventional arms control, in "Preventing the Spread of Arms: Delivery Means and Conventional Weapons"; and Peter R. Lavoy provides a more optimistic, if guarded, picture regarding the prospects for control of nuclear weapons in the South Asian subcontinent, in his essay "Nuclear Arms Control in South Asia."

In Part Five, Larsen draws the book to a close by identifying the key and recurring themes of the collected articles. …

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