Parochial Opposition to Disarmament Regimes: Historical Trends and Implications for Future Disarmament Policy
Podguski, Michael David
Modern proponents of nuclear disarmament frequently cite the success of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as a model regime for future efforts to abolish nuclear arsenals. Similarly, opponents of disarmament frequently point to the failed interwar naval disarmament conferences as an example of disarmament's inevitable folly. The question for policymakers considering either side of the nuclear debate is this: why was national accession to one regime ultimately possible, while cooperation within the other regime failed? More importantly, what impact does that have for today's efforts to engage viable nuclear disarmament policy?Using a case study methodology, I look for patterns and trends shared by the states involved in these disarmament regimes. I conclude that the differing effectiveness levels of parochial opposition between these two regimes were due to the differing perceptions of strategic value attached to the weapons involved. As such, using the CWC as an example of future gains in nuclear disarmament or the naval conferences as evidence of multilateral folly misses the broader message. Instead of initially addressing disarmament through the lens of multilateral engagement or through well-designed technical regimes, the long-term viability of any future disarmament regime will likely be determined by entrenched perceptions of the strategic value of the arsenals involved.
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