By Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman
(For more information on this feature, see here.)
And this week’s in the weeds conceptual/theoretical articles on nuclear weapons and related issues include…
National missile defense and (dis)satisfaction
Quackenbush, S.L. & Drury, A. C., 2011. National missile defense and (dis)satisfaction. Journal of Peace Research. 48:4, July 2011. pp.469-480.
“Our empirical analysis finds no support at all for the extant, informal arguments that the development and deployment of missile defense by the United States actually creates dissatisfaction in other states.” (p.479)
This article by Stephen L Quackenbush and A Cooper Drury tries to address the question of whether the development of a U.S. missile defence affects deterrence stability. They take this question a step further by arguing that you first have to establish whether dissatisfaction with a national missile defence causes instability. Secondly, you need to investigate whether the development of a U.S. missile defence has caused dissatisfaction in other states. By using a game-theoretic model of deterrence they conclude that if the development of a national missile defence system causes dissatisfaction in other states, then this can make deterrence more difficult. This is because the dissatisfied states have more reason to challenge the status-quo. However, when examining whether the U.S.’ development of a missile system has caused dissatisfaction in other states, they found that this was not the case. They thus conclude that the development of an American missile defence does not affect deterrence.
To Deter or Not to Deter: Applying Historical Lessons to the Iranian Nuclear Challenge
Graham, C.M., 2011. To Deter or Not to Deter: Applying Historical Lessons to the Iranian Nuclear Challenge. Strategic Studies Quarterly. 5:3, Fall 2011. pp. 50-66.
“Mao Zedong was also a much more ruthless and revolutionary figure than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” (p. 62)
Applying lessons from the United States’ experience with China, Cheryl Graham examines the current situation with Iran’s nuclear program. Graham begins by examining the relationship the United States had with China in 1964 as China acquired its first nuclear weapon. When China developed their first nuclear weapon, the relationship between China and the United States was very poor. Graham found that the United States viewed deterrence with China as untenable and made statements that it would not allow China to develop nuclear weapons. Graham asserts that China, under Mao Zedong was more of a threat to the United States than Iran. Yet China developed nuclear weapons, and the United States never experienced a nuclear attack by China. The article applies these lessons to the situation with Iran, and finds that similar rhetoric is being used to describe a nuclear Iran. Graham refutes these claims, and by comparing Iran to China finds that a nuclear Iran will still fall under traditional deterrence.
A Crude Threat: The Limit of an Iranian Missile Campaign against Saudi Arabian Oil
Itzkowitz, J.R., Priebe, M., 2011. A Crude Threat: The Limit of an Iranian Missile Campaign against Saudi Arabian Oil. International Security. 36:1, Summer 2011. pp. 167-201.
“Given the presence of redundant facilities, some oil networks may have few, if any, targets that can incapacitate an entire system.” (p. 201)
Authors Joshua Itzkowitz and Miranda Priebe examine Iran’s ballistic missile capability, and the threat these missiles pose to Saudi Arabian oil fields. They find that at its current state of development, Iran’s ballistic missiles do not pose a serious threat to Saudi Arabian oil production. Oil production facilities are often spread out, and difficult to completely destroy, and Iran’s ballistic missiles are not accurate enough to make a significant impact. Saudi Arabia has alternate ports to continue exporting oil if some along the Persian Gulf are damaged, and while oil production may go down, it would not be as significant as originally believed. The authors find this is important for the United States, as one of the principle reasons that the United States does not take more aggressive action against Iran is because of threats by Iran to attack Saudi Arabian oil facilities. The authors also find that the U.S. military force structure in the Middle East is heavily influenced by this threat, and that perhaps the U.S. could reorganize its forces more efficiently as the threat is not as significant as conventional wisdom asserts.