Disarmament and the International System



The sovereign states of today have inherited from Renaissance Europe an ordered system for the conduct of their relations which may be called an international society. For though sovereign states are without a common government, they are not in a condition of anarchy; like the individuals described by Locke in his account of the state of nature they are a society without a government. This society is an imperfect one: its justice is crude and uncertain, as each state is judge in its own cause; and it gives rise to recurrent tragedy in the form of war; but it produces order, regularity, predictability and long periods of peace, without involving the tyranny of a universal state. Much thinking in the West in the last fifty years has been concerned less with understanding this society and the conditions of its preservation than with dismantling or even abolishing it. One of its institutions has been national armaments; and one of the preoccupations of Western thinking has been disarmament, the attempt to do away with or drastically curtail them. Yet if armaments are an integral part of the whole system of international relations, and stand or fall with it, there are serious objections to the notions both of the possibility and the desirability of disarmament.


Nuclear Weapon International System Sovereign State Military Power International Tension 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1970

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