Disarmament and control of conventional weapons and armed forces
Disarmament and control of conventional weapons...
Bilateral or multilateral agreements on reducing and removing conventional weapons and armed forces are quite a rare phenomenon in the history of humankind. Yet disarmament has happened on many occasions: Primarily in the wake of a war, when the victor can dictate disarmament terms to the vanquished. In the Roman Empire, for instance, having won the second Punic War (218–201 BC), Rome forced Carthage to hand over its war elephants and nearly all its battle fleet. Another example is the post-First World War settlement under the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, when the losing parties, Germany and her allies, were required to disarm on a large scale. On the other hand, there have also been many occasions when a victorious power reduces its own troop numbers, weapon stocks and arms expenditure in the aftermath of a war, and does so as the result of an autonomous, unilateral decision. For example, both the Soviet Union and the United States made such a move after the Second World War, and the US did so after its military interventions in Korea (1950–1953), Vietnam (1964–1973) and Iraq (2003–2011).
The first arms reduction and control agreement in modern times was concluded in 1817 between the United States and the United Kingdom. Known as the Rush-Bagot Treaty, it provided for a limitation on the number of battleships of both sides on the Great Lakes of North America. This treaty prevented a planned build-up of naval forces in the region.