Do We Need Arms Control If Peace Breaks Out?

The world is facing truly breathtaking changes, in particular from the socialist countries. The traditional rigidity of communist regimes and the preeminence of the communist parties in these countries are breaking down. Strong voices of nationalism within the Soviet Union are challenging the very integrity of the union itself. Thus, a bipolar world--where the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), led by the United States, and the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), led by the Soviet Union, represent both .an ideological schism and a superpower confrontation--is no longer the basis or even a dominant force for threatened conflict.

The recognition is growing that such factors as economic strength, abundance of basic resources, productivity, and the health and morale of the population are in many respects stronger bases of national security than are military forces. This recognition conflicts sharply with the concept of national security as defined in the Dictionary of Military Terms (issued by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff) as "a military or defense advantage over any foreign nation or group of nations."

In view of all these developments, the realization that military power and national security are not synonymous is becoming more prevalent in the United States.  More attention is focusing on internal threats from deficiencies such as those in education, from erosion of the country's infrastructure, drugs, and problems of the environment. This attention, in turn, has deflected public concern and attention from military issues. The decreased concern not only has diminished the priority given to military preparedness but also, unfortunately, has lessened the concern with arms control.