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Strategic Build-Down: A Context for Restraint

Courtesy Reuters

The search for national security is a dialectic of hope and fear. Fear of war spawns demand for weapons; hope for peace feeds demand to control those weapons. Judging by the rampant growth of weaponry in modern times, fear is more fruitful than hope. If foreign policy is the management of contradictions, national security policy requires a synthesis of hope and fear, a prudent blend of arms and arms control.

That synthesis has proved elusive. Now a new approach has emerged in the idea known as "build-down." In essence the build-down principle says that no new weapons should be deployed unless a larger number of existing weapons are destroyed. Conceived and refined over the last two years, the build-down seeks to apply a relatively simple principle to the complex realities of international competition in the development and deployment of weapons. The concept has aroused interest initially as a novel scheme

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