Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1991

Abstract

This article proposes, as a new element of the "liberal internationalism" that should characterize the post-Cold War world, a simultaneous solution to these three problems. The nations of the world should negotiate a series of multilateral agreements to stop the spread of advanced weaponry, and include in each of them, as an overt incentive for developing states to accept the disarmament and verification obligations, provisions that explicitly require the affluent, developed states to make specified monetary and in-kind transfers to the third world parties. The new regime should also provide stronger-than-customary treaty procedures for clarifying ambiguities, adjudicating claims, and resolving disputes, and should designate one or more multilateral administrative and enforcement agencies dedicated to furthering the agreements. In short, the wealthy countries, which stand to benefit the most from the establishment of a more stable international military environment, should be willing to pay for it. They should provide aid and commercial grants to the developing states that, in turn, should agree to accept significant, verifiable limitations, particularly on high-technology armaments, as an explicit condition for these important financial advantages. While this package approach will not by itself solve all the security difficulties of the next century, it offers the best hope for gaining control over some of them and for channeling our collective energies into productive and mutually beneficial enterprises.

The argument of the article is developed in the following six parts. Part I examines the problem of multilateral disarmament, summarizing the progress registered to date and the areas in which more needs to be done. It also demonstrates that the coming decades, even after the ending of the Cold War, will present stark new threats to United States security and world peace, threats that existing arms control institutions and treaty regimes have been unable to anticipate and preempt. Part II addresses the problems of economic development, drawing on the literature describing the importance of judicious foreign assistance in promoting sound economic growth in marginal economies, and assessing the international community's currently inadequate response to this need. It describes the third world's stake in economic development and presents the case for the advanced societies to do more--out of sheer economic and political self-interest, if nothing else. Part III then suggests that future arms control imperatives will present challenges and dangers that are systematically different from those that the world has confronted--and resolved inadequately--in the past. It marshals the evidence for the propositions that the world's current strategies for dampening international conflict through existing types of treaty regimes are already insufficient, and that the trend is worsening.

Part IV presents our proposal for a "tradeoff, with the developed states frankly "buying" the arms control they need, and paying for it with guaranteed levels of development assistance that the poor states need. This Part then outlines seven principles that underlie the proposal as a whole and presents some of the nuts and bolts that could make it operational. While the suggestion may seem radical at first blush--legalized "bribery" or "economic imperialism" in some eyes--we think it offers a realistic, efficient solution to otherwise intractable global threats.

Part V deals with some of the most serious objections that might be raised against our strategy, discussing the "morality" of the tradeoff, its political acceptability, the precedents for it, and possible alternatives to it. Finally, the Conclusion offers some observations about the proposal as one component in an overdue, more subtle, conceptualization of national security.

The author’s thesis is that international agreements linking multilateral disarmament and economic development, though novel and potentially risky, offer the most promising way out of the international community's emerging security impasse. Their program would give both developed and developing states what they need. It would fashion a flexible, enforceable scheme for dealing with the complex fears and incentives that are otherwise unaddressed or confined to under-the-table bargaining. Explicit trading may not seem palatable at first, but equipping future treaties with both positive incentives and negative sanctions, rather than relying exclusively upon negative sanctions alone, could prove to be far more tolerable than any of the alternatives.

Publication Citation

91 Colum. L. Rev. 993-1059 (1991)