House of Cards: Why Arms Control Must Fail
"If peace breaks out, can arms control be far behind?" According to Colin S. Gray, this sardonic motto describes events of the 1990s just as well as it did those of the 1920s. Gray offers a provocative history of twentieth-century attempts at arms limitation, as he challenges the fundamental assumptions of arms control theory. Arms control has never worked, he concludes, because it never can. Existing approaches to arms control appeal to common sense, but they are logically unsound and inherently impractical, Gray argues, because they fail to take political realities into account. He outlines their inadequacies in what he calls the Arms Control Paradox: the more motivated nations are to fight one another, the less interested they will be in supporting significant arms limitations. Under these conditions, arms control agreements must be, to echo a phrase of George Will's, either impossible or unimportant. Documenting the naval treaties of the 1920s and 1930s and the initiatives to limit strategic nuclear arms from 1969 to the present, Gray seeks to demonstrate that the fortunes of negotiated arms limitation have merely reflected the temperature of international relations, rather than influencing those relations. National security analysts, students and scholars of international relations, and others interested in arms control issues will want to read House of Cards and debate its conclusions.
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