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Controversy: Could Disarmament Be Policed?

- Abstract

Arthur I. Waskow: Radical pacifists and Establishment strategists hold at least one belief in common: that the achievement of complete disarmament on a world-wide scale would require a total transformation in the nature of man and the international system. Where they differ is that the pacifists look forward to such a transformation and strive to bring it about, while the official strategists either fear it or believe it to be impossible, and so refuse to accept general and complete disarmament as their goal.

One variant of the strategists’ view was set forth by Paul Kecskemeti in his discussion of “Nuclear Abolitionism.” Mr. Kecskemeti assumed that the enforcement of general and complete disarmament would require creating a world nuclear “police” force, and then went on to criticize this “supreme world authority” as absolutist and tyrannical, since it would “simply crush anyone who, by rebelling, infringe[d] its absolute monopoly of violence.” He predicted that the absence of any world-wide political consensus would compel such a force to “function erratically or be paralyzed altogether,” and he expressed the fear that it might unleash a general nuclear war.

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