THE CONDITIONS OF ARMS CONTROL
HOWEVER desirable it may be, arms control can occur only if circumstances are such that governments both want it and can agree on its terms. In this sense, that it is brought about and maintained by the policies of sovereign governments, the conditions of arms control are political. Though this is an elementary point, it is one which is not sufficiently taken into account in public discussion of disarmament or arms control, which is inclined to view the latter as waiting upon the evolution of a method or the discovery of a technique. The assumption being that the powers want disarmament and subordinate their policies to the pursuit of an agreement about it, 'the problem of disarmament' is seen to consist of procedural questions concerning what preparations should be made for the negotiations, what powers should be represented at them and by whom, whether they should consider arms control as a whole or piecemeal, before security or after it, and so on. Or else it is seen to consist of technical questions concerning the characteristics of weapons and armed forces, the design of systems of inspection and supervision and the elaboration of administrative machinery. Problems of this kind exist, and systems of arms control require solutions to them. But unless the political conditions for arms control are present, the question of what method or procedure is appropriate in arms control negotiations, and the question how the technical problems involved in arms control can be solved, are of minor importance, and attempts to solve them in abstraction from political circumstances are of no significance. The view that international negotiations about arms control are concerned with the search for solutions to these problems, or that their failure to issue in agreements arises from the difficulty of finding these solutions, is, on the whole, mistaken. For the protracted public conversation of the powers about arms control should be viewed not as a cooperative attempt to solve a problem, but as a theme in their political relations.