Foster, William C.
April 1969
Foreign Affairs;Apr1969, Vol. 47 Issue 3, p413
This article focuses on the arms-control negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The central fact today in confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union is that progress in technology has made it both necessary and possible to place restraints on the nuclear arms race. The technological stars and planets are now in favorable conjunction, so to speak and they will not stay that way for long. The unfortunate thing is that even if we considered the new threats to be imagined rather than real or possible rather than sure, we still could not dismiss them; for we must also take into account how the other side might react in a crisis. Then, too, there is the obvious corollary to a first-strike incentive: the side which feels that the other may have an incentive to strike first automatically has an incentive to do so itself that is, to preëmpt. These are some of the reasons which argue in favor of negotiating in the context of the present strategic confrontation, rather than waiting for the arms race to move up another step or two. And there is yet another consideration which should be mentioned: we are in the relatively fortunate position at the present time where each side has fairly complete information on the size and capabilities of its adversary's strategic forces. Thus the implications of an agreement not to increase such forces on either side would now be relatively simple to calculate.


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