Total disarmament suggests that we can all achieve peace and harmony if we just cooperate and forget about weapons. Thats so easy to say, but is it even feasible? I assume we have all heard of the saying œanythings possible in this world, but with all that has been happening in this world lately, can we even see that possibility?
The two World Wars created a massive destruction to the countries involved, and even to those that werent. The whole world was indeed affected. Some people might say œLet what happened in the past stay in the past, but what if history were to repeat itself? We should always be ready for the worst, especially in terms of defending our nations interests. We can limit our arsenal to weapons used merely for defense. Weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear weapons and other biological weapons are the ones that should be banned or disarmed because they are clearly for offensive use and could cause unreasonable damage to the world. All of these and more resulted in the creation of arms control, an act that works better in the world today, but what really is arms control?Arms control, which was a term made by scientists and politicians looking to prevent a nuclear war, is a general term for the limitations upon the advancement, storage, production, propagation and usage of weapons, especially those that cause massive destruction. It is typically exercised under diplomacy, with the use of treaties and agreements among acquiescent participants in imposing such restrictions. A participant nation or a group of them may also encompass efforts in enforcing such limitations to non-consenting countries. On a national note, arms control could also aggregate to having programs that limit a private citizens access to weapons. It is also referred to as gun politics. This somehow causes conflicts on a citizens right to firearms as stated and protected in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is also used more narrowly to refer to specific steps aimed at managing an escalating arms competition between two actors.
For instance, in the Cold War (1945-1991) between the United States and the Soviet Union that started from conflicting ideas in rebuilding the postwar world, the two nations entered into an arms control agreement to eliminate the possibilty of a nuclear attack thus reducing tensions between them. Arms control is often mistaken as synonymous with disarmament which is not always true. Arms control doesnt eliminate the current weapons, rather it restricts the future development, production and use.
The act of arms control wasnt established overnight. It has a very long history. Arms control has been used in different ways by different nations, societies and organizations. One of the first recorded attempts goes way back in ancient Greece as such a ruling was made and used by the Amphictyonic League, a religious organization, after the Phocians captured Delphi and a sacred war was declared after. The Roman Catholic Church also had a role in limiting the means of warfare. A ruling called 989 Peace of God protected all noncombatants, agragarian and economic facilities, and the property of the church from war. Violence among Christians was prevented by the 1027 Truce of God. Lastly, the Second Lateran Council in 1139 barred the use of crossbows against fellow Christians, but this did not apply against non-Christians.
As times passed and more advanced firearms were developed, the devastation caused by war worsened. The furthermore growing brutality and callousness of warfare resulted to the efforts of creating and formalising the rules of war. Humane treatment of the prisoners of war and the protection of the innocent and their properties were some of the rules applied. Though during these periods until the beginning of the 19th century few formal arms control agreements were recorded, except for theoretical proposals and those imposed on defeated armies. There have been so many efforts to enforce of arms control among nations. This was proven by the several treaties and agreements attempted and made over time. The 1817 Rush-Bagot Treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom was the first arms control treaty of what can be considered the modern industrial era. This treaty led to the demilitarisation of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain region of North America. The 1871 Treaty of Washington followed and signed by both the United States and the United Kingdom which resulted in total demilitarisation.
Arms control is up to now applicable. In fact, it keeps up better with the world today than disarmament. Technology is fast-rising and cannot be controlled exclusively through military action or other limited one-sided means. More advanced technologies such as nuclear and biological weaponries are big threats to mankind. Technology could also be used to attack in different ways. We may be weapon-free, but other technological advancements that do not involve bullets or explosions and kill people could be used as weapons too. One example is hacking. This act could be used to take and destroy information from the opponents systems. Secret files and documents could be taken by this act and might never be retrieved. There are also many new small arms developed through technology that contribute to so many civilian conflicts.
The fast-growing technology isnt the only thing that defines the world today. Who could forget terrorism? Terrorism is a worldwide problem nowadays, and proper defensive measures should be attained. It is not that safe to go out anymore lately because of the so many threats made by terrorists. One attack that should really alarm us is the 9/11 World Trade Center Bombing. We cant just stand around and watch another terrorist attack. We should also protect ourselves. We should act and do the proper preventive measures. If what it takes is to fight back, for the welfare of the majority and innocent, then so be it. As long as there is terrorism, we are unsafe.
One act of terrorism is the bomb threats. We get a lot of that in the Philippines. Just recently in Mindanao as reported by the newspaper Inquirer, suicide bombers of terrorist groups Jemaah Islamaiyah and Abu Sayyaf were reportedly roaming around the provinces and could attack anytime soon. These kinds of threats could really destroy peace in such places. As long as there threats like this, there wont be any peace of mind among the people affected.
Disarmament may take away all those threatening weapons, but terrorists can make their own weapons. We get news about bombs made from cell phones like what was found in a mall in General Santos City last 2005 according to the website Mobiledia.com. Arms control can provide us defense from all of these attacks as well as measures to prevent them from happening again. There have been some arguments on how total disarmament may be beneficial to a countrys economy. Disarmament had been discussed in 56th, 57th and 58th session of the General Assembly. This is a quote from Cheikh Niang, representative of Africa in the 58th General Assembly of the United Nations:”whenever we can achieve lower military spending, it will be a benefit for development. It is better to be in a world free of any military action or confrontation. We think that a world committed to disarmament is a world able to accomplish higher levels of development.” (Cheikh Niang)Although total disarmament is good because a country will not have to spend money on weaponries anymore, it wont guarantee national security. Thus, the economy will be negatively affected. Total disarmament isnt really applicable to the world nowadays with all the terrorist attacks and the fast-growing technology. The next best thing is arms control. Arms control reduces economic costs of preparing war. The money that was supposedly used for defense can now be used for other purposes. It is also referred to as œPeace Dividend — savings gained from lower level arms cost while still being able to defend. The peace dividend could be used for urban environmental problems, medical services, educational services, and other things that could further improve a nations economy and help the society.
Most economists, however, agree that defense-related government expenditures have been historically beneficial to a states economy (The Economics of War 7). States such as Japan and Germany, which have not had to spend as much of the government budget on military goods or services, have not gained a significant economic advantage in the international arena. On the other hand, the example of these two countries show that economic success does not require large amounts of defense spending. So in conclusion, arms control still provides national security by still being able to help the nations economy in other apects because of the peace dividend it gets by not spending too much on preparing for war. Although arms control is good, its enforcement has been proven difficult overtime. One of the problems was that most of the agreements relied on the continued desire of a participating nation to abide with the terms for it to remain effective. If a nation decided to back out of the agreement, its effect would no longer be applicable. Also, if a nation doesnt want to follow the terms anymore, they will simply end their participation in the treaty.
Some nations just violate some rules in the treaty and get away with it. There are also many loopholes in the treaties. One example that showed these problems was the Washington Naval Treaty which was abandoned after a little more than a decade. In this treaty, the United States used technology to improve their ships while still working within the weight limits. On the other hand, the Italians misrepresented the weight of their vessels, and Japan just left the treaty when they could no longer abide with the terms. Enforcement is more a matter of politics than adherence to the terms. This meant that political allies and enemies played a big part in treaty decisions. The recent treaties now have stringent terms on rules and violations. More holes have been covered. This was to avoid some participants to covertly circumvent the terms of the agreements. Verification now plays a major portion in avoiding the same mistakes again. It is a procedure in determining if the participant nation is still obeying the terms of the treaty or agreement.
But the problems didnt stop there. Some nations were just using the treaties merely for their own interest. Some treaties give a nation some advantages in economic developments, so being out of the treaty would give the nation a disadvantage over its competitor. So the nation just stays within the treaty while secretly violating some of the terms. Its good to know that the Philippines has been involved in the international treaties like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Biological Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This goes to show that the Philippines is aware of the dangers the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons may post.
To sum things up, arms control is better than total disarmament in so many ways. It provides better security and benefits the economy. It also fits better with the world today. Yes, total disarmament may be ideal because at least there would be no more threats of war and security in the world but thats not being realistic. There are some rebels out there that could create their own weapons and could create it anytime they want. Having fights and misunderstandings are of human nature and theres no escaping it. We have to defend ourselves too.
Although it was so hard to implement the act because of the nations different interests, new treaties looking to improve the last one are emerging. This is also because apparently, arms control is for the welfare of everyone.