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The Future of Arms Control

The Future of Arms Control
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Arms control, once a keystone of American foreign policy, has fallen out of favor with many U.S. Policymakers. Yet it is needed more than ever, although in a different form. Dangerous technologies about throughout the world and cannot be controlled exclusively through military action or other unilateral means. A successful strategy also necessitates coordinated international initiatives to regulate the development, production, and use of such technologies and weapons—in other words, arms control.

When Morton Halperin and Thomas Schelling laid out their widely adopted principles for arms control during the cold war, they attempted to bring arms control and defense policy into alignment; they thus emphasized the need to reduce the chances of war, the damage from any war that nonetheless occurred, and the cost of preparing for war. Here, Michael A. Levi and Michael E. O’Hanlon apply a similar logic to arms control in the modern age of terrorism, leading to a new set of core principles.

The authors underscore that arms control must have clear priorities and focus on preventing proliferation to the most dangerous actors of the most dangerous technologies—notably those related to nuclear and biological weaponry, as well as the small arms that contribute to so many civil conflicts. It must also provide early warning of violations, thereby helping establish the predicate for international coercive action (even use of military force) when violations occur. They suggest that to snatch proliferation, the United States and its allies must continue to expand the group of democratic, peaceful countries that are united in a security community. This vision of collective security is a much more promising nonproliferation incentive than the unrealistic promise of nuclear abolition.

In addition, Levi and O’Hanlon offer analyses of space weaponry, cybersecurity, nanotechnology, and possible arms control arrangements in key regional hotspots to complete, cogently and decisively, their proposal for a new arms control framework for a new world.

Brookings Institution Press; January 2005
207 pages; ISBN 9780815797555
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