Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 9 No. 2 | Summer 1987 (Portland) /// Issue 34 of 41 /// Master# 34 of 73

the stands. This exclusiveness has no doubt strengthened the resolve of some aspiring Third World governments to join the nuclear club and thus garner a place at the table by the only apparent means available. Traditional negotiation and verification processes have made it easier for the Soviet Union and the United States together to hold the world hostage to a war system of their own devising. Arms control is finally the tool the superpower elites use to perpetuate and even to codify their dominance of the world. Though finding little to agree upon among substantive issues, they share a mutual distaste for restraints upon their freedom to develop and deploy new and more lethal weaponry. As Alva Myrdal tellingly documents in her classic study of postwar disarmament negotiations, The Game of Disarmament, Soviet and American negotiators have in effect if not in actual intention cooperated in a coy two-step shuffle, sidling towards the lip of the chasm to see which can be coaxed first into stepping over the precipice. “You first.” “After you, my friend.” “ Oh, but please, after you!” Each offers only those proposals it knows the other cannot accept. And if one is (God forbid!) unexpectedly accepted, the offer is summarily withdrawn. This paradoxical behavior is not as inexplicable as it might at first seem. Although arms control is represented by superpower spokesmen and understood by the general public to be a means of terminating the arms race, the negotiators themselves view it as a means of managing a conflict they neither expect nor fully desire to see disappear. Managing, in this instance, means making the existing system of competing military blocs safer, cheaper, and more efficient—eliminating obsolete or infeasible technologies and rerouting funds to those systems most likely to yield a relative advantage in future negotiations or conflicts. Managing means keeping the race running hard enough to justify maintaining and expanding a prosperous military establishment but not so hard as to exhaust one’s own resources. Managing means reaping the benefits of preparation for war without unduly risking war itself. Arms control is at best a distraction from disarmament, and at worst a disguised military tactic, an obstacle placed before those who would challenge the legitimacy of the war system of which it is an element. It sustains that system by legitimizing the very structure, institutions, and belief systems that it was ostensibly designed to displace. Government-sponsored arms control betrays a persistent attachment to the notion that security is solely a matter of weapons, a technical problem. In the lexicons of both arms racers and arms controllers, security is understood to be primarily national and military. Nowhere in such a world-view is there menProposed in the first instance as a brake on a pair of recklessly driven vehicles, arms control has become, in the hands of its drivers, a steering wheel veering towards the cliff’s edge. tion of other forms of security which might supplement and ultimately supplant our desperate dependence on arms, a set of processes and institutions capable of handling conflict in more constructive ways. It is thus all too readily appropriated by the dominant war system for its own ends. Arms control is a reactive rather than an active strategy, the negation of a dynamic and profitable enterprise rather than the assertion of a more dynamic and effective alternative. Nations will not disarm into a vacuum. Before relinquishing the unlimited right to possess and develop the hardware of unilateral defense, governments and peoples will both need to feel fully assured that their security (and profit) can be better guaranteed by other means. A peace system is not simply a modified war system. It is a synthesis of freshly conceived and mutually reinforcing elements in an integrated system where the machinery of war is replaced by the coordinated mechanisms of international peacekeeping and a’complex web of less formal arrangements. These mechanisms would center around constitutionally established global organizations vested with the necessary authority and capacity to inspect and enforce international law and to settle disputes without resort to armed force. “ Nations don’t distrust each other because they are armed,” concluded Salvador de Madariaga, sadly observing the failure of early disarmament negotiations. “They are armed because they distrust each other. And therefore to want disarmament before a minimum of common agreement on fundamentals is as absurd as to want people to go undressed in winter.” Somehow we must begin to deal with the intangible and irrational roots of the conflict. We must find ways of meeting one another halfway, in settings where politics don’t pollute the process. We must make occasions for working together—ip space, iqaid to drought- and famine-stricken refugees, and most of all, in establishing a broader range of direct communication channels between us. What Else, If Not Arms Control? Having surveyed the wreckage of our best intentions in two treaties—one a Pyrrhic victory, the other a miscarriage—and having reviewed the causes of our failure, where does this leave us with government- controlled arms control? Has arms control as we have known it anything left to offer us? Arms control today is a means of managing the arms race. If practiced differently it might well become an important element, though never the entirety, of a comprehensive peace. Somehow a process less susceptible to diversion and subversion must be invented, a process less easily captured by the very interests and trends it was designed to control. It needs to take negotiations out from behind closed doors (where agreements to evade agreement may be reached) and .place them in the global public realm, where those most affected by the decisions may watch and participate. Nearly a quarter century ago, a psychologist by the name of Charles Osgood proposed what he called “ an alternative to war and surrender” : a carefully conceived set of non-military policy initiatives undertaken by a government independently and without prior agreement SUBSCRIBED R e c e iv e FREE With a 2 year subscription “These are the lost 1971-72 sessions, when he was just returning from obscurity, and they’re the basic, raw stuff that he’d been playing for years. Essential for any fan of the man or blues piano.” New York Daily News “Lusty, vibrant sessions featuring the late piano innovator in some of his finest, syncopated, wallbanging performances.” San Francisco Examiner Professor Longhair; House Party New Orleans Style SUBSCRIBE SUBSCRIPTION FORM SUBSCRIBE SEND $16 per subscription Name: Address: C i t y : S t a t e : _______ Zip: □ VISA □ MaiterCharge □ CHECK Credit Card? Exp. Date SEND TO: Clinton Street Quarterly Box 3588, Portland, OR 97208 8 Clinton St. '—Summer, 1987