Two New Studies on Arms Control: Only Schelling's Worth Reading

THE NATION'S SAFETY AND ARMS CONTROL, by Arthur T. Hadley, 1961 (The Viking Press, New York), 160 pages, $3.00.

If the initial paragraphs of this review sound snotty, I can't help it.

Postulate 1: There exists a distinct, if non-measurable difference between the intellectual quality of the Harvard community and that of anyplace else.

Postulate 2: Persons within this community prefer sophisticated arguments to non-sophisticated presentations.

Fact 1: Two new books on arms control have recently been published, almost simultanously. Both are by-products of the now-famous "Summer Study on Arms Control," held here last year by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Safe Conjecture 1: A significant number of persons within the Harvard community are deeply interested in arms control, and will want to know which of these two books, if either, they ought to read.

Initial Conclusion: By all means, read Schelling and Halperin. Nearly every reader of this review will find Hadley totally worthless.


The terse study by Schelling and Halperin, both members of the University's Center for International Affairs, attempts to explicitly define the term "arms control." Superbly concise, it presents both the prospects and problems in a cool, logical style understandable to any reader. It avoids both the massiveness and the technically of last fall's issue of Daedalus, also a product of the summer study.

Wherever Thomas Schelling has travelled, he has impressed audiences with his sharp, precise, unembroidered mind. Halperin, less traveled, is considered one of the fastest rising thinkers in the field. The pithy but systematic style of both men is apparent throughout the book.

Strategy and Arms Control is "not an advertisement" but "a sympathetic exploration of arms control." It tries to show where arms control differs from lay connotations placed on oft-heard pleas for arms limitation or wholesale disarmament and "how naturally arms control fits" into military strategy.

Essentially, the book is written to convince traditionally defense-minded people that arms control is a necessity in the nuclear age, that military strategy alone is no longer the only requirement for national defense. Arms control, as Schelling and Halperin explain it, is not something distinct or self-contained, not some item we inaugurate after negotiating an international agreement. Rather, they contend, arms control is an integral part of national security. Even at this moment, for example, we and the Russians refrain from certain actions, e.g. political assassinations, because abstention serves both blocs beneficially. Thus, we already have some arms control.

The chief purpose of this book is to convince military strategists (amateur ones, that is) of the potential usefulness of arms control--to develop methods of avoiding unintended war, to decrease certain military (technical) causes of war, like the incentive to pre-emptive or accidental war, and even to minimize the scope and damage caused by wars that might occur.

Implicitly, the book assumes that orthodox problems of strategy are receiving plenty of attention--in a sense, strategy can take care of itself--but that arms control, the necessary complement to strategy, needs a boost.

Schelling and Halperin franky discuss the difficulties inherent in arms control, such topics as how arms control which makes general war less likely increases the possibilities of local wars because the fear of general war is no longer as significant.

In sharp contrast, Arthur Hadley offers a schoolboy's polemic for arms control.