By Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman
(For more information on this feature, see here.)
And this Friday’s in the weeds conceptual articles on nuclear weapons and related issues include…
The Strategy of Non-proliferation: Maintaining the Credibility of an Incredible Pledge to Disarm.
Harrington de Santana, A., 2011. The Strategy of Non-proliferation: Maintaining the Credibility of an Incredible Pledge to Disarm. Millennium Journal of International Studies. August 2011. pp.3-19.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, I argue that the practice of non-proliferation does not lead to disarmament. In fact, experience suggests just the opposite: the purpose of US non-proliferation policy is to obviate the need for the US to disarm itself.” (Harrington de Santana, 2011, p.5)
In “The Strategy of Non-proliferation”, Anne Harrington de Santana, argues that the shift in US nuclear policy from extended deterrence to non-proliferation is not as large of a shift as has been suggested, and it will not lead to disarmament. She develops her argument by showing how the logic behind the two policies is the same “hard-headed, realist rationale”. A rationale which says that the US can no longer be safe using deterrence instead a policy of non-proliferation and a rhetoric of disarmament is being used. In Harrington de Santana’s opinion it does not matter whether the Obama Administration wants disarmament or not, “the current US nuclear policy will reduce the threat that nuclear weapons pose to the US”, however “it will not produce a world free of nuclear weapons”. For this to happen the relationship between non-proliferation and disarmament must evolve, and disarmament must become a practice in its own right.
Deterrence theory: where do we stand?
Quackenbush, S.L., 2011. Deterrence Theory: Where do we stand? Review of International Studies. April 2011. pp.741-762.
“The primary conclusion is that perfect deterrence theory provides a logically consistent alternative to classical deterrence theory and therefore provides the most appropriate basis for further theoretical development, empirical testing, and application to policy.” (Quackenbush, 2011, p.741)
In “Deterrence theory: where do we stand?”, Stephen L. Quackenbush analyses the current standing of deterrence theory in international relations. He acknowledges that it has received less attention since the end of the Cold-War, but he argues that this is a mistake and that deterrence theory is relevant irrespective of time and space. However, the author goes against the conventional wisdom, which claims that there is one main theory of deterrence and he instead argues that there are two, classical deterrence theory and perfect deterrence theory. The main difference between these two theories is that the former sees conflict as the ultimate threat, whereas the latter recognizes that the credibility of a state’s threat depends on how it weighs the value of backing down versus conflict. In Quackenbush’s opinion “perfect deterrence theory provides a much better basis for analyzing various aspects of national security policy”.
Deterrence at the Operational Level of War.
Blackwell, J., 2011. Deterrence at the Operational Level of War. Strategic Studies Quarterly. Summer 2011. Pp. 30-51.
“In a bipolar world, escalation was linear. Now, escalation can function across many dimensions not limited to the nuclear escalation ladder. In the multipolar, proliferated nuclear world, deterrence exists across at least four domains simultaneously—conventional, nuclear, cyber, and space.” (Blackwell, 2011 p. 36)
Blackwell argues against the idea that deterrence is no longer a viable practice. He argues that in the new, proliferated nuclear world “operational deterrence” should be the new focus. In making his argument Blackwell illustrates the problems with the traditional ideas on deterrence. Blackwell argues that for operational deterrence to be successful the United States and its leaders must truly understand those that are the target of deterrence. Blackwell points out that during the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union had a greater understanding of each other, and shared experiences at times of crisis that allowed deterrence to work. He points out that this is not the case in a multi-polar world where the United States no longer has one target for deterrence. Blackwell also advocates for greater integration of deterrence between the four domains of conventional, nuclear, cyber and space. He asserts that even actors that policy makers believe act irrationally, such as international terrorists, can still be deterred if their motivations, and fears are understood. Finally Blackwell implies that smaller, tactical nuclear warheads may give the United States’ nuclear deterrent more credibility.