Useful warning about arms cuts; How Little Is Enough? SALT and Security in the Long Run, by Francis P. Hoeber. New York: Crane, Russak & Co. 80 pp. $5.95 (paperback.)
This book appeared ahead of its time. Dr. Hoeber concerns himself with the military, political, and arms control implications of negotiated deep reductions in the United States and Soviet strategic nuclear arsenals. Since the book was published several months ago, President Reagan's proposal for deep reductions has been presented at the US-Soviet strategic arms reduction talks (START).
Francis Hoeber was sufficiently farsighted to examine a set of nuclear policy and arms-control issues that have become critically important because of the Reagan administration's proposals.
Ironically, these issues have received scant attention in public and official discussions. Hoeber's short but lucid and tightly reasoned text is one of the few useful examinations of the implications of deep reductions in strategic nuclear forces.
Unlike many other recent attempts to consider the nuclear issues, this book is informed by a sophisticated understanding of US andm Soviet strategic weapons and doctrine. Too often authors treat the topic with little or no regard for the Soviet perspective. Francis Hoeber recognizes that arms control is a bilateral and interrelated affair; he does a great service to the reader by clarifying the Soviet view.
The book outlines differences in the US and Soviet approaches, the US emphasizing a ''deterrence only'' orientation, and the Soviet Union the view that effective deterrence stems from a capability to wage war effectively. Hoeber suggests that these differences reflect the vastly divergent historical, geopolitical, and domestic political experiences of the two countries.
This book should be required reading for official and unofficial participants in the arms control process. Hoeber demonstrates that, while the concept of deep reductions in nuclear weapons has great appeal, it is not without risks.
For example, an arms agreement resulting in very low numbers of American and Soviet strategic weapons would make American capabilities to verify the terms of an agreement even more critical than at present.
The author also argues that deep reductions could blur the distinction between the current nuclear superpowers and the other members of the nuclear club; it could, in effect, create a multipolar nuclear balance of power, which Hoeber suggests might be more dangerous than the current situation.
''How Little Is Enough? SALT and Security in the Long Run'' doesn't argue against arms control or drastic cuts in strategic nuclear forces, per se. What the author provides is a cogent and timely analysis of the potential risks involved in deep force level reductions. If the US is to move down this avenue of arms control, it should be keenly aware of the potential pitfalls. Hoeber gives us a useful cautionary guide to those pitfalls.