The United States Is Not Entitled to Lead the World
Washington Should Take A Seat at the Table—But Not Always at Its Head
A Sharp distinction is often drawn between arms control and disarmament. The former seeks to reshape military incentives and capabilities; the latter, it is alleged, eliminates them. But the success of either depends on mutual deterrence. Short of universal brain surgery, nothing can erase the memory of weapons and how to build them. If "total disarmament" is to make war unlikely, it must reduce the incentives. It cannot eliminate the potential for destruction; the most primitive war can be modernized by rearmament as it goes along.
To determine whether and how disarmament might make war less likely we have to look at what the military opportunities, risks, dangers, fears and potential capabilities would be in a disarmed world. If nations now suspect each other of contemplating war, we have to suppose that they might suspect each other of contemplating rearmament. If nations are willing to risk war, or to threaten it, they certainly might risk rearming or threatening to rearm. Nations thought capable now of being panicked into war might be panicked into rearmament. To suppose the contrary is to assume away the problem that disarmament is intended to help solve.
An international military authority is commonly proposed as a part of plans for total disarmament. It does make a difference whether or not we assume the existence of such an authority to police the otherwise disarmed world. But for the visible future it is a little extreme to suppose that an international force could contain or deter the United States and the Soviet Union; more than that, the concept poses problems of deterrence not wholly unlike those that would confront the major powers in a fully disarmed world. So we shall first consider universal disarmament without any international security force. And we shall assume a world disarmed to the levels proposed by those who favor the most drastic "total disarmament."
There are good reasons why this phrase should be set off in quotation marks. An obvious one is that there can be no absolute assurance that some nuclear weapons have not been kept. But, cheating aside, war can be waged with even the most primitive weapons, especially with the help of commercial aircraft, ships, trucks, radios and the other paraphernalia of industrial society. More important, if war breaks out a nation can rearm unless its capacity is destroyed at the outset and kept destroyed. By the standards of 1944, the United States was fairly near to total disarmament when World War II broke out. Virtually all munitions later expended by United States forces were nonexistent in September 1939. "Disarmament" did not preclude U.S. participation; it just slowed it down.
As we eliminate weapons, warning systems, vehicles and bases, we change the criteria of military effectiveness. Airplanes are more important if missiles are banned; complex airplanes are needed less if complex defenses are banned. Since weapons themselves are the most urgent targets in war, to eliminate a weapon eliminates a target and changes the requirements for attack. At some stage in disarmament a donkey becomes a means of delivery, though we assume that "total" disarmament stops short of that.
The difficulty cannot be avoided by banning weapons of attack and keeping those of defense. If nations were large, self-sufficient islands, coast artillery might seem useless for aggression and valuable safeguards against war and the fear of war. But they are not; and in the present era, "defensive" weapons often embody equipment or technology that is superbly useful in attack and invasion. Moreover, a prerequisite of successful attack is some ability to defend against retaliation or counterattack. In a disarmed world, whatever lessens the scale of retaliation reduces the risk a nation runs in starting war. Defenses against retaliation thus are close substitutes for offensive power.
II. GENERAL WAR IN A DISARMED WORLD
Disarmament would not preclude the eruption of a crisis; war and rearmament could seem imminent. Even without possessing complex weapons, a nation might consider initiating war with whatever resources it had, on grounds that delay would allow an enemy to strike or mobilize first. If a nation believed its opponent might rush to rearm to achieve military preponderance, it might consider "preventive war" to forestall its opponent's dominance. Or, if confidence in the maintenance of disarmament were low and if war later under worse conditions seemed at all likely, there could be motives for "preventive ultimatums," or for winning a short war through coercion with illicitly retained nuclear weapons, or for using force to impose a more durable disarmament arrangement.
The decision to attack might be made reluctantly, motivated not by the prospective gains of victory but by the disadvantages of not seizing the initiative. Motives to undertake preventive or preëmptive war might be as powerful under disarmament as with today's weapons-perhaps more powerful.
In a disarmed world, as now, the objective would probably be to destroy the enemy's ability to bring war into one's homeland, and to "win" sufficiently to prevent his subsequent build-up as a military menace. The urgent targets would be the enemy's available weapons of mass destruction (if any), his means of delivery, his equipment that could be quickly converted for strategic use, and the components, stand-by facilities and cadres from which he could assemble a capability for strategic warfare.
Suppose both sides have violated the agreement and possess nuclear bombs at least in the scores or hundreds (or suppose the attacker has, and must anticipate that his opponent has). The attacker's first objective is to forestall the delivery of bombs in return. Compared with the present, the disarmed world would offer the attacker both advantages and disadvantages.
An advantage is that the time scale of attack may be more lenient. The victim may have a secret nuclear stockpile; but if he is unprepared it will take time to bring together, say, commercial aircraft, crews and the hidden nuclear weapons, and to improvise fueling arrangements and target plans. To do this in the hostile environment of even small-scale nuclear attack might be difficult. But the attacker would be coördinated rather than surprised and could make effective use of evacuation procedures or of any air defenses he could improvise.
If, instead, each side has plans for the contingency and maintains a "reserve force"-some part, say, of its commercial air fleet and crews-the victim of attack may react quickly. The attacker's own air defenses have been banned by agreement (and air defenses may be hard to conceal); in these conditions a retaliatory force of even low efficiency may be effective if it is large and dispersed.
If the aggressor has nuclear weapons and the victim does not, the latter's response will depend on how rapidly production can be resumed. Standby capacity may be available, or there may be nuclear facilities that can be converted to produce weapons. If these facilities have not been destroyed, the lag may be short, but a matter of days at least. Critically important would be the defenses, the dispersal or the secrecy of the facilities for producing nuclear materials or for assembling nuclear weapons. If the sites are few in number, of known location, above ground and without air defense, they would be destroyed before operations could be resumed. If the production facilities are in secret locations, we may as well assume that nuclear weapons also exist.
III. A WAR OF NUCLEAR MOBILIZATION
In the event that neither side had nuclear weapons, asymmetrical lead-times in nuclear rearmament could be decisive. Whether it took days or months, the side that believed it could be first to acquire a few dozen megatons through a crash rearmament program would expect to dominate its opponent. This advantage would be greatest if nuclear facilities themselves were vulnerable to nuclear bombardment: the first few weapons produced would be used to spoil the opponent's nuclear rearmament. Even if facilities are deep under the ground, well disguised or highly dispersed, a small difference in the time needed to acquire a few score megatons might make the war unendurable for the side that is behind. If one side appears likely to gain the decisive advantage, it might find "preventive rearmament" coupled with a surrender ultimatum an irresistibly attractive move.
It would not necessarily be essential to possess nuclear weapons in order to destroy nuclear facilities. High explosives, commandos or saboteurs could be effective. "Strategic warfare" might reach a purity not known in this century: like the king in chess, nuclear facilities would be the overriding objective. Their protection would have absolute claim on defense.
In such a war the object would be to preserve one's mobilization base and to destroy the enemy's. To win a war would not require overcoming the enemy's defenses-just winning the rearmament race. If commandos can bypass home defenses and paralyze the adversary's nuclear mobilization base, the jig is up-unless all participants can do this to each other. If they can, the prospect is for a bizarre kind of "broken-backed" war, bizarre because no back is broken, and the struggle to acquire nuclear weapons goes on- hopefully not too fast and too furiously to allow parallel negotiations for an agreed stalemate or a second try at "disarmament."
Another kind of warfare may emerge-"nuclear coercion." If an attacker possesses illicit nuclear weapons that can be dropped on a country that is unable to retaliate promptly, it might force a surrender through the destruction of cities and the threat of destroying more. Or the coercive campaign could combine preclusive destruction of the mobilization base with the demoralizing effects of concurrent civil damage. The expectation would be that, if significant rearmament could be retarded, capitulation would be forthcoming.
Such a war might be less destructive than war under present conditions, not primarily because disarmament had reduced the attacker's capability but because, with the victim unable to respond, the attacker could adopt a more measured pace that allowed time to negotiate a cease-fire before he had reduced his victim to rubble. Victory, of course, might be achieved without violence. If one side appears to have an advantage so convincingly decisive as to make the outcome of the war seem inevitable, it could then deliver an ultimatum instead of weapons.1
Disarmament might also cause nuclear weapons to be a greater equalizer among nations than they are now. A future Castro might be in a better position to plague or coerce the great powers by secreting nuclear weapons on his territory. In a world in which such forms of nuclear mischief have replaced the space-age machinery of war and in which the push-button has given way to improvised aerial ferries, the military environment may become less predictable and possibly more unstable.
To sum up: a stable military environment will not result automatically from a ban on weapons and the facilities to make them. The timing of war and rearmament, and the role of speed and initiative, will remain critically important in a world in which the pace of war is initially slowed. War may become more calculable and less fearsome. And there would remain, even in the design of "total disarmament," the difficult choice between minimizing war's destructiveness and minimizing its likelihood. If disarmament is to discourage the initiation of war and to remove the incentives toward preëmptive and preventive war, it has to be designed to do that. Disarmament does not eliminate military potential; it changes it.
IV. LIMITED WAR IN A DISARMED WORLD
While disarmament would eliminate the guns, it would not eliminate the trucks, aircraft, ships, communication equipment and canned food that are required for limited military campaigns. Nations could be expected to have plans for limited-war mobilization, including limited departures from the arms agreement itself.2
As important as the direct consequences that disarmament would have for limited war would be the indirect consequences. If disarmament reduces fears of general war-if explosion or escalation into general war seems a less likely prospect, or less disastrous if it should occur-the result may be fewer inhibitions on limited war. There could also be new restraints. If it is perceived that the outbreak of local wars may destroy the agreement itself -either through a sudden breakdown or steady erosion-this may create a determination to preserve what has been achieved and a recognition that to abandon restraints would signal "open season" on military competition. Of course, the more all parties value the climate of disarmament, the more can be gained by threatening to disturb it.
As "limited war" is possible, so is "limited violation" of disarmament. Since limits on hostilities can evidently be observed during war itself, limits on rearmament might be arrived at in similar fashion, even in the course of limited hostilities. The responses of countries not participating in the war would be important-perhaps an important brake, possibly a stimulus, on the resumed armament.
In limited war as in general war under conditions of "total disarmament," timing would be important. Offensive strategy in a limited war is often designed to achieve a fait accompli. Defense against this strategy in a disarmed world would depend on the ability of the defender (or protector) to rearm in time to repel or to stalemate the aggression. If we reflect on the critical timing of the North Korean invasion and the shortage of ammunition that plagued us throughout the whole Korean campaign, or the problems of the preëmptive landing of Marines in Lebanon or the progress of the Suez campaign, it is evident that logistical considerations can be decisive. The likelihood that limited aggression will be deterred by the threat of limited rearmament may therefore depend on the mobilization speed that can be achieved from a standing start.
V. THE DETERRENCE OF REARMAMENT IN A DISARMED WORLD
Many concepts that apply to the deterrence of war apply to deterrence of rearmament: "preventive" rearmament, "preëmptive" rearmament, "escalation" of rearmament, "catalytic" rearmament, and rearmament stimulated by misinformation, misinterpretation, accident, false alarm, unauthorized conspiracy and other processes analogous to those that might trigger "inadvertent war" in an armed world. In addition, there are the possibilities of rearmament bubbling up out of a crisis, occurring in the course of a limited war or being undertaken by cool premeditation.
But despite the parallel, rearmament is not war. The fears, motives and moral attitudes that make initiation of war an opprobrious act do not apply with the same force to rearmament. The question whether to remain disarmed or to initiate limited rearmament could become a legitimate political issue. If the disarmament is so delicately balanced that there is great advantage in being the first to rearm, the mere existence of a political party pledged to abandon the disarmament treaty might disturb the arrangement. And to the extent that the treaty explicitly allows certain weapons or a mobilization base, continuing developments in technology will make armament, as well as disarmament, a proper topic of discussion and continuing negotiation.
The essential requirement is for some stable situation of "rearmament parity." If disarmament is to be durable, it must be apparent that the disadvantages of being behind in case an arms race should resume are not too great and that, in the face of ambiguous evidence of clandestine rearmament or overt evidence of imminent rearmament, nations can react without haste. The straightforward elimination of so-called "military production facilities" might, by sheer coincidence, provide the stability; but stability is more likely if there is a deliberately designed system of "stable equal readiness for rearmament." It is impossible to eliminate the ability to rearm; one can only hope to stretch the time required to reach, from the word "go," any specified level of rearmament. The problem is not whether to leave a mobilization base for rearmament, but what kind.
It is not certain that maximizing the time required to rearm is a way to deter it. Lengthening the racecourse does not necessarily lessen the incentive to be first under the wire. But it may reduce the advantage of a small head-start; it may allow time to renegotiate before the race has too much momentum; and it may reduce the confidence of a fast starter that he could win if he called for a race.
If rearmament is undertaken to improve mutual deterrence> not to achieve offensive superiority, it may not matter whether some nations fall behind. The leader will not necessarily race as fast as he can; for if he does, other nations may have to regard his behavior as a declaration of war and to respond accordingly. If a low-grade war of nuclear reprisal is within the capability of some laggard in the rearmament race, he may feel obliged to initiate such a war to disrupt another's rearmament; thus rearmament could lead to preëmptive action and trigger a war. On the other hand, this prospect may help deter rearmament itself.
The likelihood of war, then, depends on the character of the disarmament. If mobilization potentials are such that a head-start is not decisive and the racecourse is long, preëmptive action may be delayed until motives are clear. This, however, presents a dilemma analogous to that of deterring limited war today: the smaller the fear that rearmament will precipitate general war, the smaller the inhibition on rearmament.
Important elements for stability in a disarmed world would be the dispersal and duplication of standby facilities for rearmament and of reserve personnel or cadres around which rearmament can be mobilized. Dispersal is important because of the interaction between rearmament and war itself. If a nation can achieve just enough production of weapons to disrupt its opponent's rearmament, it may gain a decisive advantage. Once the race is on, a few easily-located facilities for producing nuclear weapons might invite a "preventive" and very limited war. If instead there were, say, scores or hundreds of laboratories able to produce unconventional weapons and if their destruction would require substantial military capabilities, there might be less incentive on one side to acquire and exploit a small advantage and less fear on the other of falling a little behind and being taken advantage of.
Nations are now willing to threaten war; in a disarmed world they certainly might threaten rearmament. The agreement itself would certainly have to be renegotiated from time to time, or continuously; and, just as a threat of "no sale" hangs over the head of commercial traders, so will the threat of rearmament hang over the heads of negotiators. The main sanction on the negotiations will be that, in the absence of a satisfactory agreement, nations may take unilateral steps for their own security or take steps to put pressure on others.
VI. ATTITUDES TOWARD REARMAMENT
The terms of an agreement must take into account what the attitude toward rearmament would be in the disarmed world. One approach would be that any overt rearmament would be a mortal sin, a total failure of the disarmament process, a contingency that can neither be planned for nor discussed coolly within countries or between governments. Alternatively, rearmament might be viewed as we view war now-as a tragedy and a failure of policy, but a tragedy that can occur, that can even occur from motives of self-defense, that can perhaps be limited and contained, and that need not signal the termination of all efforts at settlement and reconciliation.
The first attitude, which would try to insulate rearmament from the cold war and deprecate any planning for the contingency of rearmament, might be preferable if it could promise to create sufficiently strong inhibitions. If, instead, we have to expect-as surely we do-lapses under even the most ideal disarmament scheme, it is better to plan for such contingencies and to create the expectation that occasional lapses need not trigger a real arms race or the full fury of war itself. We cannot have it both ways. For if we recognize "limited rearmament" as a possibility and prepare for "limited responses" against it, we take some of the curse off rearmament, just as plans for limited war seem to legitimize war. This is a genuine dilemma.
Rearmament has other dimensions than speed and volume. We should distinguish between rearmament aimed at stable deterrence and rearmament aimed at brinkmanship or war. In this country we would certainly want to have careful rearmament plans so that, in the event we found ourselves unavoidably drawn into a renewed arms race, our actions would be consistent with deterrence of war and with an effort to slow down the pace of rearmament. The further rearmament goes and the more unstable the environment which it creates, the harder it will be to get back to the business of disarmament if we wish to.
It will also make a difference whether military and strategic planning is permitted and expected or frowned on. The dilemma is that stability will require careful planning of a kind inconsistent with the philosophy that military planning is illegal, immoral and a sign of evil intent. If nations suddenly awoke to rearmament dangers of which they had not been aware, their response might be more undisciplined and more unstable in the absence of military planning than if vigilance had been deliberately maintained.
It should not be expected that reduced tensions will be the natural consequence of a disarmament agreement. Not everyone will be confident that disarmament provides a viable military environment or promises the political atmosphere most conducive to peace and good relations. It is hard to believe that any sober person under any conceivable world arrangement could come to believe with confidence that war had at last been banished from human affairs until there had been at the very least some decades of experience. There will be surprises, rumors and sharp misunderstandings. Even if something that looks like "general and complete disarmament" is achieved, it is not out of the question that responsible governments might decide that international apprehensions would be reduced if they possessed more secure, more diversified and more professionally organized mobilization bases or weapon systems, with more freedom to improve them, drill them and discuss the strategy of their use.
It is even conceivable that a "rearmament agreement" would be negotiated in the interest of reducing tensions, the likelihood of war, the scope for "rearmament blackmail," the Nth-country problem, and perhaps even the economic costs of preparedness. It might be that moderate though expensive modern weapon systems, professionally organized and segregated from the main population centers, would provide less-not more-military interference in everyday life than a "total" disarmament agreement under which every commercial pilot carried emergency mobilization instructions in his briefcase. In any event, a decision on total disarmament, taken jointly by the major powers, would not bring an end to arguments about arms control.
VII. AN INTERNATIONAL MILITARY AUTHORITY
Some kind of international authority is generally proposed as part of an agreement on total disarmament. If militarily superior to any combination of national forces, an international force implies (or is) some form of world government. To call such an arrangement "disarmament" is about as oblique as to call the Constitution of the United States "a Treaty for Uniform Currency and Interstate Commerce." The authors of the Federalist Papers were under no illusion as to the far-reaching character of the institution they were discussing, and we should not be either. Here, however, we can focus only on those aspects of an International Force that directly affect the military environment.
One concept deserves mention in passing: that the projected police force should aim to control persons rather than nations. Its weapons would be squad cars, tear gas and pistols; its intelligence system would be phone taps, lie detectors and detectives; its mission would be to arrest people, not to threaten war on governments. Here, however, we shall concentrate on the concept of an International Force to police nations-and all nations, not just small ones. The most intriguing questions are those that relate to the Force's technique or strategy for deterring and containing the former nuclear powers.
The mission of the Force would be to police the world against war and rearmament. It might be authorized only to stop war; but some kinds of rearmament would be clear signals of war, obliging the Force to take action. There might be, explicitly or implicitly, a distinction between the kinds of rearmament that call for intervention and the kinds that are not hostile.
The operations of the Force raise a number of questions. Should it try to contain aggression locally, or to invade the aggressor countries (or all parties to the conflict) and to disable them militarily? Should it use long- range strategic weapons to disable the country militarily? Should it rely on the threat of massive punitive retaliation? Should it use the threat or, if necessary, the practice of limited nuclear reprisal as a coercive technique? In the case of rearmament, the choices would include invasion or threats of invasion, strategic warfare, reprisal or the threat of reprisal; "containment" could not forestall rearmament unless the country were vulnerable to blockade.
Is the Force intended to do the job itself or to head a worldwide alliance against transgressors? In case of aggression, is the victim to participate in his own defense? If the Indians take Tibet, or the Chinese encourage armed homesteading in Siberia, the Force would have to possess great manpower unless it was prepared to rely on nuclear weapons. A Force could not be maintained on a scale sufficient to "contain" such excursions by a nation with a large population unless it relied on the sudden mobilization of the rest of the world or on superior weaponry- nuclear weapons if the defense is to be confined to the area of incursion. But the use of such weapons to defend, for example, South Viet Nam against Chinese infiltrators, Western Europe against the Soviet bloc, East Germany against West Germany or Cuba against the United States, would be subject to the ordinary difficulties of employing nuclear weapons in populated areas. A country threatened by invasion might rather capitulate than be defended in that fashion. Moreover, the Force might require logistical facilities, infrastructure and occasional large-scale man?uvres in areas where it expects to be called upon. Keeping large forces stationed permanently along the Iron Curtain is a possibility, but not one that brings with it all the psychological benefits hoped for from disarmament.
A sizeable intervention of the Force between major powers is not, of course, something to be expected often in a disarmed world. Nevertheless, if the Force is conceived of as superseding Soviet and American reliance on their own nuclear capabilities, it needs to have some plausible capability to meet large-scale aggression; if it hasn't, the major powers may still be deterred, but it is not the Force that deters them.
A capability for massive or measured nuclear punishment is probably the easiest attribute with which to equip the Force. But it is not evident that the Force could solve the problems of "credibility" or of collective decision any better than can the United States alone or NATO collectively at the present time. This does not mean that it could not solve them-just that they are not automatically solved when a treaty is signed. If the Force is itself stateless, it may have no "homeland" against which counter- reprisal could be threatened by a transgressor nation; but if it is at all civilized, it will not be wholly immune to the counter-deterrent threats of a transgressor to create civil damage in other countries. These could be either explicit threats of reprisal or implicit threats of civil destruction collateral to the bombardment of the Force's own mobilization base. (The Force presumably produces or procures its weaponry in the industrial nations, and cannot be entirely housed in Antarctica, on the high seas or in outer space.)
If it should appear technically impossible to police the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, then we should have to assume that at least minimal stockpiles had been retained by the major powers. In that case, the Force might not be a great deal more than one additional deterrent force; it would not enjoy the military monopoly generally envisaged.
One concept needs to be disposed of-that the Force should be strong enough to defeat a coalition of aggressors but not so strong as to impose its will against universal opposition. Even if the world had only the weapons of Napoleon, the attempt to calculate such a delicate power balance would seem impossible. With concepts like preëmption, retaliation and nuclear blackmail, any arithmetical solution is out of the question.
The knottiest strategic problem for an International Force would be to halt the unilateral rearmament of a major country. The credibility of its threat to employ nuclear weapons whenever some country renounces the agreement and begins to rearm itself would seem to be very low indeed.
The kind of rearmament would make a difference. If a major country openly arrived at a political decision to abandon the agreement and to recover the security it felt it had lost by starting to build a merely retaliatory capability and sizeable home-defense forces, it is hard to envisage a civilized International Force using weapons of mass destruction on a large scale to stop it. Limited nuclear reprisals might be undertaken in an effort to discourage the transgressor from his purpose. But unless the rearmament program is accompanied by some overt aggressive moves, perhaps in limited war, the cool and restrained introduction of nuclear or other unconventional weapons into the country's population centers does not seem plausible, unless non-lethal chemical or biological weapons could be used.
Invasion might offer a more plausible sanction, perhaps with paratroops armed with small nuclear weapons for their own defense; their objective would be to paralyze the transgressor's government and mobilization. But if this should be considered the most feasible technique for preventing rearmament, we have to consider two implications. We have provided the Force a bloodless way of taking over national governments. And a preëmptive invasion of this kind might require the Force to act with a speed and secrecy inconsistent with political safeguards.
There is also the question of what kinds of rearmament or political activity leading to rearmament should precipitate occupation by the Force. In our country, could the Republicans or Democrats campaign on a rearmament platform, go to the polls and win, wait to be inaugurated, denounce the agreement, and begin orderly rearmament? If the Force intervenes, should it do so after rearmament is begun, or after a party has introduced a rearmament resolution in Congress? The illustration suggests that one function of the Force, or the political body behind it, would be to attempt first to negotiate with a potential rearming country rather than to intervene abruptly at some point in these developments.
Again, the character of rearmament would make a difference. Suppose the President presented a well-designed plan to build an obviously second- strike retaliatory force of poor preëmptive capability against either the International Force or other countries, but relatively secure from attack. If he justified it on the grounds that the current military environment was susceptible to sudden overturn by technological developments, political upheavals, irrepressible international antagonisms, the impotence of the Force for decisive intervention, the corruption or subversion of the Force, or other such reasons, then the authorization of a drastic intervention by the Force in the United States would be less likely than if the President ordered a crash program to assemble nuclear weapons, trained crews and long- range aircraft. It would make a considerable difference, too, whether rearmament occurred at a time of crisis, perhaps with a war going on, or in calmer times.
The point of all this is simply that even an International Military Authority with an acknowledged sole right in the possession of major weapons will have strategic problems that are not easy. This is, of course, aside from the even more severe problems of political control of the "executive branch" and "military establishment" of the world governing body. If we hope to turn all our international disputes over to a formal procedure of adjudication and to rely on an international military bureaucracy to enforce decisions, we are simply longing for government without politics. We are hoping for the luxury, which most of us enjoy municipally, of turning over our dirtiest jobs-especially those that require strong nerves-to some specialized employees. That works fairly well for burglary, but not so well for school integration, general strikes or Algerian independence. We may achieve it if we create a sufficiently potent and despotic ruling force; but then some of us would have to turn around and start plotting civil war, and the Force's strategic problems would be only beginning.
This is not an essay against disarmament, even "total disarmament." It is simply a warning against the notion that there is any once-for-all solution to the problems of world peace and government. It is against the notion that if only disarmament is "total" enough, we can forget about deterrence and all that. It is against the notion that under "total" disarmament there is no military potential to be controlled, balanced or stabilized.
There should be no divorce between deterrence and disarmament. If disarmament is to work, it has got to improve deterrence and to stabilize deterrence. Until a much greater community of interest exists in the world than is likely in this generation, war will have to be made unprofitable. It cannot be made impossible.
It is sometimes argued that to perpetuate military deterrence is to settle for a peace based on fear. But the implied contrast between arms control and total disarmament is not persuasive. What would deter rearmament in a disarmed world, or small wars that may escalate into large ones, must be the apprehension of a resumed arms race and war. The extent of the "fear" involved in any arrangement-total disarmament, negotiated mutual deterrence, or anything else-is a function of confidence. If the consequences of transgression are plainly bad-bad for all parties, and little dependent on who transgresses first-we can take the consequences for granted and call it a "balance of prudence." What keeps us from stepping off a train before it stops is not "fear"; we just know better. 1 Deterrence being largely a matter of credibility, it might not always be an advantage to have it believed that one is complying with the prohibition on nuclear weapons. At the slightest suspicion that others might be initiating preparations, a government might prefer to hint that it was already prepared. A small nuclear capability might be used to demonstrate a larger professed capability. 2 The Chinese civil war of 1948-49 may illustrate how extensive a war can be fought with poor weaponry and primitive logistical support. Or the American Civil War.