The Future of Arms Control

The Future of Arms Control

Michael A. Levi
Michael E. O’Hanlon
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 190
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7864/j.ctt12879r6
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  • Book Info
    The Future of Arms Control
    Book Description:

    Arms control, for decades at the core of the foreign policy consensus, today is among the more contentious issues in American politics. It is pilloried and considered out of mode in many conservative quarters, while being viewed as nearly sacrosanct in many liberal circles. In this new book, Michael Levi and Michael O'Hanlon argue that neither the left nor the right has a correct view of the proper utility of arms control in the age of terror. Arms control in the traditional sense--lengthy treaties to limit nuclear and other military competitions among the great powers--is no longer particularly useful. Nor should arms control be pursued as a means to the end of constraining the power of nations or of promoting global government. It is still a critical tool, though, for controlling dangerous technologies, particularly those that, in the hands of hostile states or terrorist organizations, could cause massive death and destruction. Arms control and coercive action, including military force, must be integrated into an overall strategy for preventing proliferation, now more than ever before. Arms control should be used to gain earlier warning of illicit activities inside dangerous states, allowing the international community to take coercive action in a timely way. The authors propose three new criteria to guide future arms control efforts, designed to respond to today's geopolitical realities. Arms control must focus on the dangers of catastrophic technology, not so much in the hands of major powers as of small states and terrorist groups. Their criteria lead to a natural focus on nuclear and biological technologies. Much tougher measures to prevent countries from gaining nuclear weapons technoloty while purportedly complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and procedures for controlling dangerous biological technologies will be most prominent in this framework, while lower priority is giben to efforts such as bilateral nuclear accords and most types of arms control for outer space. This book provides a framework for an effective arms control strategy in a new age of international security.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-9755-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Strobe Talbott

    Today, even the phrase “arms control” has a somewhat musty quality. SALT, START, IMF, CFE—all those initials and acronyms remind us of the days when the American and Soviet diplomats squared off across negotiating tables in Geneva and Helsinki to haggle over warheads, throw-weight, launchers, armored personnel carriers, and the numerology of Armageddon. The specifics often were a subject of controversy, not just between the superpowers but within the Western strategic community. But guided by common sense, pragmatism, and the demands of traditional diplomacy, most practitioners of American foreign policy—on the left and on the right—recognized the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction and Rationale
    (pp. 1-18)

    Arms control, for decades a key tool of American foreign policy, is nearly moribund today. Its detractors denounce it as dangerous and outmoded, while its advocates often pin high hopes on its ability to fundamentally alter the international security environment. Most Americans, meanwhile, ignore what appears to be a shrill and unimportant debate. As a result, politicians largely avoid acquiring any detailed understanding of the subject.

    This combination of factors—polarized debate among specialists, indifference throughout the population at large, neglect by political leaders—is unhealthy. Arms control is still important, because dangerous technologies abound and no practical strategy exists...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Traditional Strategic Arms Control
    (pp. 19-46)

    Because they have been at the center of arms control thinking for so long, traditional strategic issues—including great power nuclear arsenals, missile defenses, and space systems—are a natural place to begin. That said, while they are hardly irrelevant, they generally are not top priorities for future arms control, with the important exception of ensuring that nuclear materials and warheads are not vulnerable to theft or transfer.

    Many supporters of traditional arms control have expressed dismay at what has happened to the process of negotiating and implementing strategic arms accords, particularly between the U.S. and Russia. The strongest complaints...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Preventing Nuclear Proliferation
    (pp. 47-73)

    Despite stunning advances in science and technology over the past half-century, nuclear arms remain the most deadly proven weapons on Earth.¹ Perfect defense against nuclear attack is not technically feasible.² Meaningful mitigation of its consequences is all but impossible.³ The overwhelming burden of dealing with nuclear weapons thus requires use of the full range of preventive tools.

    During the cold war, nuclear arms control policy rightly focused principally on the U.S.-Soviet relationship, as evidenced in the approaches to arms control discussed in the previous chapter. But today, though both Russia and the United States still maintain thousands of nuclear weapons,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Controlling the New Technologies
    (pp. 74-93)

    While nuclear weapons remain the most dangerous technological legacy of the twentieth century, many have speculated that emerging technologies could rival or even exceed the horrors of the atomic bomb. Advanced biological pathogens that spread easily and resist treatment, nanotechnology devices claimed to have the potential for uncontrollable self-replication, and computer attacks capable of bringing down huge segments of the world’s electronic—and thus physical—infrastructure, are all notable entries on the list of potential twenty-first-century threats. Certainly, if the worst fears were confirmed, some of these threats would rival the lethal power of the atom. Are these fears accurate...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Compelling Compliance
    (pp. 94-111)

    A successful arms control regime must also have the means to enforce its standards. Indeed, enforcement has always been the Achilles’ heel of arms control. To a large extent, that was unavoidable: historically, most arms control agreements were between the United States and the Soviet Union, against either of which coercive action, and military action in particular, was unthinkable. Moreover, strict enforcement of nonproliferation rules was undervalued by many countries. For example, that India and Pakistan had acquired nuclear weapons capabilities was considered to be, while troublesome, primarily a regional problem unworthy of costly opposition. Both of these views have...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Conventional Arms Control and Regional Conflict
    (pp. 112-127)

    Civil conflicts continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people a year worldwide, and a regional war could put the lives of millions at risk. Any serious attempt at creating a comprehensive arms control strategy must explore whether arms control can make a difference in this terrible reality. Even if it cannot in the end do much, it may contribute somewhat to lessening the risk of armed confrontation—and even modest progress could save many lives. In this way, the new arms control strategy would directly address what are for many non-Western countries their chief security worries. It would also...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: The Future of Arms Control
    (pp. 128-138)

    During the cold war, arms control aimed to constrain the superpowers in their race for military superiority and to reduce the huge financial burden of preparing for the possibility of war. It fostered contact and communication between the leaders and military officers of the opposing blocs. And by reinforcing the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons and containing nuclear proliferation, it aimed to minimize the damage from any war that might ultimately occur.

    That emphasis on preventing nuclear proliferation remains important today. In addition, cold war arms control concepts can still contribute to achieving other goals, such as reducing...

  12. APPENDIX: Arms Control Treaties and Other Accords
    (pp. 139-164)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 165-184)
  14. Index
    (pp. 185-190)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 191-192)