When I was in grad school in the United Kingdom studying international relations/security, my class syllabi usually required reading from leading security-focused academic journals such as International Security, International Organization, Millennium, International Studies Quarterly, Review of International Studies, and many others.
While my classmates and I sometimes questioned the relevance of many of the articles in these journals to real world policy issues, I often found them to be a useful theoretical and conceptual complement to the topical foreign policy issues of the day.
In that spirit, NoH plans to pen a weekly column where we comb dozens of well known academic and industry journals and publications for interesting and provocative perspectives on nuclear weapons, with a particular emphasis on deterrence theory, arms control, disarmament, and proliferation.
Below is our first edition (edited by Center interns Andrew Carpenter and Ulrika Grufman), which includes articles from Foreign Affairs, Joint Forces Quarterly, and Strategic Studies Quarterly.
Less than Zero – Bursting the New Disarmament Bubble
Joffe, J. & Davis, J.W., 2011. Less than Zero – Bursting the New Disarmament Bubble. Foreign Affairs, January/February, pp.7-13.
“Hard power – or, more accurately, hard power combined with a reputation for the will to use it – is a more efficient deproliferator than disarmament.” (Joffe & Davis, 2011, p12.)
In “Less than Zero”, Josef Joffe and James W. Davis argue against the Global Zero initiative to abolish nuclear weapons since in their view this would lead to a more unstable world. They develop their argument by showing that the disarmament on the part of the existing nuclear powers will not necessarily preclude non-nuclear weapon states from attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. They furthermore claim that even if the Global Zero Initiative were possible, two vital issues must be addressed. First, the age before the invention of nuclear weapons was marred by unprecedented violence and conflict. If nuclear weapons prevent catastrophic conventional wars, why would we want to abolish them. Second, it may be possible to abolish nuclear weapons, but it is not possible to abolish the knowledge and technology to create them. Joffe and Davis argue that the world has been a stable and more peaceful place during the nuclear era. Although they strongly favour Arms Control, they raise strong concerns about the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
In Support of Zero
Blair, M., Brown, M & Burt, R., 2011. Can Disarmament Work? – Debating the Benefits of Nuclear Weapons – In Support of Zero. Foreign Affairs, July/August, pp.173-176
“Force has a significant role to play as part of a comprehensive strategy, but force alone cannot stop the spread of nuclear weapons.” (Blair et al. 2011, p.174).
“Supporting Zero”, by Bruce Blair, Matt Brown and Richard Burt, is a response to Joffe and Davis’s piece “Less than Zero”. The authors argue that the growing dangers of nuclear proliferation and terrorism outweigh the “perceived or real benefits of nuclear weapons”. They write that although we have witnessed peace during the nuclear era, we have also seen the growth of democracy, economic interdependence and beneficial technology, which would make the kind of wars that typified the pre-nuclear age unlikely. Moreover, they claim that the existence of the knowledge and technology to build nuclear weapons would work as a deterrent in the place of the actual weapons.
Matrix of Non-Linearity- Minimum Deterrence, Missile Defenses, and Nuclear Arms Reductions.
Cimbala, S., 2011. Matrix of Non-Linearity- Minimum Deterrence, Missile Defenses, and Nuclear Arms Reductions. Joint Forces Quarterly, July, pp. 110-116.
“The strategic nuclear arms reductions of the Cold War era may have been procedurally painstaking, but they took place in a relatively uncomplicated technology and policy world compared to now.” (Cimbala, 2011, p.110)
In “Matrix of Non-Linearity” Stephen Cimbala explores the obstacles to further arms reductions between the Russian Federation and the United States, and the possibilities of implementing minimum deterrence. Cimbala concludes that minimum deterrence is possible, and may be appealing to politicians and military leaders who wish to maintain a nuclear deterrent, at a minimum cost. However, he does highlight some obstacles to further reductions below the levels agreed upon by New START. One major obstacle is the political situation in Russia, and Russia’s desire to maintain the image of nuclear parity with the United States. Russia’s concerns over its lesser conventional capabilities will also present an obstacle to further reductions. Cimbala considers one of the biggest challenges to be the implementation of U.S. and NATO anti-ballistic missile capabilities in Europe. He argues that this issue is likely to prevent Russia from agreeing to further reductions unless some kind of agreement between NATO/U.S. and Russia on missile defense can be reached.
Considerations of a U.S. Nuclear Force Structure below 1,000 Warhead Limit.
Baylor, D., 2011. Considerations of a U.S. Nuclear Force Structure below 1,000 Warhead Limit. Strategic Studies Quarterly, Summer, pp. 52-72.
“The United States has embarked on a path to a nuclear-free world. Its challenge is finding a path that maintains an acceptable balance of power between nations while providing an appropriate level of deterrence.” (Baylor, 2011, p.70)
In “Considerations for a U.S. Nuclear Force Structure below 1,000 Warhead Limit” Colonel David Baylor discusses potential issues that could arise from an attempt to further reduce the number of nuclear warheads between Russia and the United States below New START levels. Baylor concludes that while further arms reductions are possible, they are also going to be much more difficult and time consuming than previous efforts. Baylor contrasts the international strategic environment of previous arms reductions between the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States, where it was “easy” to bilaterally reduce the number of warheads on both sides, as it did not significantly affect the strategic environment. Baylor states that future reductions will cause both the United States and Russia to carefully evaluate the role nuclear weapons play in their defense posture, and what effects further reductions would have on this role. Future arms reduction negotiations must include all other nuclear weapons states to prevent the incentive for other states to increase their numbers of warheads to reach parity with Russia and the United States. Baylor concludes that further arms reductions and perhaps abolition is not impossible, but will require patience, caution and be fraught with new challenges.