Ever since President Eisenhower broached the “open skies” proposal in 1955, American “disarmament” policy has given prior emphasis—apart from diplomatic and propagandistic purposes—to the objective of stabilizing the military balance of power, as distinguished from the traditional objective of abolishing or reducing the arms that sustain that balance. So Secretary of State Herter on February 18, 1960, described the first goal of America's disarmament policy as creating “a more stable military environment” by reducing the risk of war resulting from a surprise attack launched by miscalculation or from the promiscuous spread of nuclear weapons production. And so on May 25 President Eisenhower took the occasion of the U-2 incident to reiterate the urgent need for an international agreement providing mutual assurance against surprise attack; and on September 22, in an address to the U.N. General Assembly, proposed a United Nations surveillance body to permit nations to prove to each other that they are not preparing to launch a surprise attack.
If stability is the objective, then arms control policy is clearly the logical complement rather than the antithesis of defense policy. Yet in the absence of an overall strategy of stability, linking arms control with military strategy, the two may work against each other. Thus in the context of recent developments in missile technology, stabilizing the military environment requires the American government to make a basic decision, not only about arms control, but about the whole strategy of deterrence, lest its concern for providing mutual assurance against surprise attack conflict with its reliance upon a nuclear response to discourage a wide range of aggressions.