This year's Forum will include a variety of events and speakers examining challenges to democracy in the United States and around the world. Political Science M. Azari and Hanley receive prestigious appointments for Spring David Archimbault visits Marquette during Mission Week. Clybourn St. Milwaukee, WI sahvana. If you see an issue with the psychology website, please contact Enrique Torruco at enrique. Milwaukee, WI Phone: Marquette University Political Science. Contemplating the nuclear past gives grounds for hoping that the world will survive if further nuclear powers join today's six or seven.
The likelihood of avoiding destruction as more states become members of the nuclear club is often coupled with the question who those states will be. Nuclear Weapons and Domestic Stability. What are the principal worries? Because of the importance of controlling nuclear weapons—of keeping them firmly in the hands of reliable officials—rulers of nuclear states may become more authoritarian and ever more given to secrecy.
Moreover, some potential nuclear states are not politically strong and stable enough to ensure control of the weapons and of the decision to use them. Fears are compounded by the danger of internal coups in which the control of nuclear weapons may he the main object of the struggle and the key to political power. Under these fearful circumstances to maintain governmental authority and civil order may be impossible. The legitimacy of the state and the loyalty of its citizenry may dissolve because the state is no longer thought to be capable of maintaining external security and internal order.
Both these fears may be realized, either in different states or, indeed, in the same state at different times. What can one say? Four things primarily. First, Possession of nuclear weapons may slow arms races down, rather than speed them up, a possibility considered later. Second, for less developed countries to build nuclear arsenals requires a long lead time. They have to deal with today's problems and hope for the best tomorrow. In such states, soldiers help to maintain leaders in power or try to overthrow them.
They like to command troops and squadrons. Their vested interests are in the military's traditional trappings. A nuclear state may be unstable or may become so. Who would they aim at? How would they use them as instruments for maintaining or gaining control? I see little more reason to fear that one faction or another in some less developed country will fire atomic weapons in a struggle for political power than that they will be used in a crisis of succession in the Soviet Union or China.
One or another nuclear state will experience uncertainty of succession, fierce struggles for power, and instability of regime. Those who fear the worst have not shown with any plausibility how those expected events may lead to the use of nuclear weapons. Fourth, the possibility of one side in a civil war firing a nuclear warhead at its opponent's stronghold nevertheless remains. Such an act would produce a national tragedy. This question then arises: Once the weapon is fired, what happens next?
The domestic use of nuclear weapons is, of all the uses imaginable, least likely to lead to escalation and to threaten the stability of the central balance. The United States and the Soviet Union, and other countries as well, would have the strongest reasons to issue warnings and to assert control. Nuclear weapons and regional stability.
Nuclear weapons are not likely to be used at home. Are they likely to be used abroad? As nuclear weapons spread, what new causes may bring effects different from and worse than those known earlier in the nuclear age? Where States are bitter enemies one may fear that they will be unable to resist using their nuclear weapons against each other. This is a worry about the future that the past does not disclose. Nuclear weapons have caused China and the Soviet Union to deal cautiously with each other. Moreover, those who believe that bitterness causes wars assume a close association that is seldom found between bitterness among nations and their willingness to run high risks.
Second, some new nuclear states may have governments and societies that are not well rooted. Idi Amin and Muammar el-Qaddafi fit into these categories, and they are favourite examples of the kinds of rulers who supposedly cannot be trusted to manage nuclear weapons responsibly. Qaddafi has shown similar restraint. He and Anwar Sadat have been openly hostile since In July of both sides launched commando attacks and air raids, including two large air strikes by Egypt on Libya's el Adem airbase. Neither side let the attacks get out of hand. Qaddafi showed himself to he forbearing and amenable to mediation by other Arab leaders.
Many Westerners who write fearfully about a future in which third-world countries have nuclear weapons seem to view their people in the once familiar imperial manner as 'lesser breeds without the law'. How do we know, someone has asked, that a nuclear-armed and newly hostile Egypt or a nuclear-armed and still hostile Syria would not strike to destroy Israel at the risk of Israeli bombs falling on some of their cities? More than a quarter of Syria's live in three: Damascus. Aleppo, and Homs. Rulers want to have a country that they can continue to rule.
Some Arab country might wish that some other Arab country would risk its own destruction for the sake of destroying Israel, but there is no reason to think that any Arab country would do so. Arabs did not marshal their resources and make an all-out effort to destroy Israel in the years before Israel could strike back with nuclear warheads. We cannot expect countries to risk more in the presence of nuclear weapons than they have in their absence. States that are radical at home. Few states have been radical in the conduct of their foreign policy, and fewer have remained so for long.
States coexist in a competitive arena. States can remain radical in foreign policy only if they are overwhelmingly strong—as none of the new nuclear states will be—or if their radical acts fall short of damaging vital interests of nuclear powers. States that acquire nuclear weapons will not be regarded with indifference.
States that want to be freewheelers have to stay out of the nuclear business. A nuclear Libya, for example, would have to show caution, even in rhetoric, lest she suffer retaliation in response to someone else's anonymous attack on a third state. Nuclear weapons induce caution, especially in weak states.
Fourth, while some worry about nuclear states coming in hostile pairs, others worry that the bipolar pattern will not be reproduced regionally in a world populated by larger numbers of nuclear states. The simplicity of relations that obtains when one party has to concentrate its worry on only one other, and the ease of calculating forces and estimating the dangers they pose, may be lost. Whatever the structure, the relations of states run in various directions. She also has to worry about China's forces. Fifth, in some of the new nuclear states, civil control of the military maybe shaky.
Nuclear weapons may fall into the hands of military officers more inclined than civilians to put them to offensive use. This again is an old worry. And in the People's Republic of China military and civil branches of government have been not separated but fused. Although one may prefer civil control, preventing a highly destructive war does not require it.
Soldiers may he more cautious than civilians. They do not like to fight conventional wars under unfamiliar conditions. Nobody knows what a nuclear battlefield would look like, and nobody knows what happens after the first city is hit. Uncertainiy about the course that a nuclear war might follow, along with the certainty that destruction can he immense, strongly inhibits the first use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have never been used in a world in which two or more states possessed them.
These possibilities are examined in the next section. Consider blackmail first. Two conditions make for the success of nuclear blackmail. First, when only one country had nuclear weapons, threats to use them had more effect. In Korea, we had gone so far that the threat to go further was plausible. The successful seige of Dien Bien Pbu in the spring of that year showed the limitations of such threats. Capabilities foster policies that employ them. But monstrous capabilities foster monstrous policies, which when contemplated are seen to be too horrible to carry through.
No state can make the threat with credibility because no state can expect to execute the threat without danger to themselves. Some have feared that nuclear weapons may be fired anonymously—by radical Arab states, for example, to attack an Israeli city so as block a peace settlement. But the state exploding the warhead could not be sure of remaining unidentified.
Once two or more countries have nuclear weapons, the response to nuclear threats, even against non-nuclear states, becomes unpredictable. Although nuclear weapons are poor instruments for blackmail, would they not provide a cheap and decisive offensive force against a conventionally armed enemy? And what goals could a conventionally strong Iran have entertained that would have tempted her to risk using nuclear weapons?
A country that takes the nuclear offensive has to fear an appropriately punishing strike by someone. Far from lowering the expected cost of aggression, a nuclear offence even against a non-nuclear state raises the possible costs of aggression to incalculable heights because the aggressor cannot be sure of the reaction of other nuclear powers. Nuclear weapons do not make nuclear war a likely prospect, as history has so far shown. No one can say that nuclear weapons will never be used.
Their use, although unlikely, is always possible. In asking what the spread of nuclear weapons will do to the world, we are asking about the effects to be expected as a larger number of relatively weak states get nuclear weapons. If such states use nuclear weapons, the world will not end. And the use of nuclear weapons by lesser powers would hardly trigger them elsewhere, with the US and the USSR becoming involved in ways that might shake the central balance. A number of problems arc thought to attend the efforts of minor powers to use nuclear weapons for deterrence.
In this section, I ask how hard these problems are for new nuclear states to solve. The Forces Required for Deterrence. In considering the physical requirements of deterrent forces, we should recall the difference between prevention and pre-emption. A pre-emptive strike is launched by one state to blunt an attack that another state is presumably preparing to launch. The first danger posed by the spread of nuclear weapons would seem to be that each new nuclear state may tempt an old one to strike preventively in order to destroy an embryonic nuclear capability before it can become militarily effective.
When Francis P. Thus President Nasser warned Israel in that Egypt would attack if she were sure that Israel was building a bomb. The uneven development of the forces of potential and of new nuclear states creates occasions that seem to permit preventive strikes and may seem to invite them. First, a country may be in an early stage of nuclear development and be obviously unable to make nuclear weapons. Second, a country may be in an advanced stage of nuclear development, and whether or not it has some nuclear weapons may not be surely known.
A preventive strike would seem to be most promising during the first stage of nuclear development. But would one strike so hard as to destroy the very potential for future nuclear development? If not, the country struck could simply resume its nuclear career. To do either would be difficult and costly. Arab states that may attempt to do so will now be all the more secretive and circumspect.
A preventive strike during the second stage of nuclear development is even less promising than a preventive strike during the first stage.
The Evolution of Strategic Thought
To know for sure that the country attacked has not already produced or otherwise acquired some deliverable warheads becomes increasingly difficult. Fission bombs may work even though they have not been tested, as was the case with the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. And if the number is zero and Egypt can be sure of that, she would still not know how many days are required for assembling components that may be on hand. Preventive strikes against states that have, or may have, nuclear weapons are hard to imagine, but what about pre-emptive ones?
The new worry in a world in which nuclear weapons have spread is that states of limited and roughly similar capabilities will use them against one another. They do not want to risk nuclear devastation anymore than we do. With delicate forces, states are tempted to launch disarming strikes before their own forces can be struck and destroyed. To be effective a deterrent force must meet three requirements.
First, a part of the force must appear to be able to survive an attack and launch one of its own. Second, survival of the force must not require early firing in response to what may be false alarms. Third, weapons must not be susceptible to accidental and unauthorized use. Nobody wants vulnerable. Will new nuclear states find ways to hide their weapons, to deliver them, and to control them?
Will they be able to deploy and manage nuclear weapons in ways that meet the physical requirements of deterrent forces? The United States even today worries about the vulnerability of its vast and varied arsenal. The Soviet Union could not be sure that we would fail to launch on warning or fail to retaliate later. In this respect, as in others, strategic discourse now lacks the clarity and precision it once had.
Both the United States and the Soviet Union have strategic nuclear weapons that can destroy some of the other sides strategic nuclear weapons. Deterrent forces are seldom delicate because no state wants delicate forces and nuclear forces can easily be made sturdy. Nuclear weapons are fairly small and light. They are easy to hide and to move. Early in the nuclear age, people worried about atomic bombs being concealed in packing boxes and placed in holds of ships to be exploded when a signal was given. Now more than ever people worry about terrorists stealing nuclear warheads because various states have so many of them.
Everybody seems to believe that terrorists are capable of hiding bombs. Why should states be unable to do what terrorist gangs are though to be capable of? It is sometimes claimed that the few bombs of a new nuclear state create a greater danger of nuclear war than additional thousands for the United States and the Soviet Union. Such statements assume that pre-emption of a small force is easy. How can military advisers promise the full success of a disarming first strike when the penalty for slight error may be so heavy?
In the worst case, some survive and can still be delivered. Americans think so because we think in terms of large nuclear arsenals. Small nuclear powers will neither have them nor need them. Lesser nuclear states might deploy, say, ten real weapons and ten dummies, while permitting other countries to infer that the numbers are larger. The adversary need only believe that some warheads may survive his attack and be visited on him. That belief should not be hard to create without making command and control unreliable. All nuclear countries must live through a time when their forces are crudely designed.
All countries have so far been able to control them.
Relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. Even if they buy the weapons, they will have to hire technicians to maintain and control them. We do not have to wonder whether they will take good care of their weapons. They have every incentive to do so. Hiding nuclear weapons and keeping them under control are tasks for which the ingenuity of numerous states is adequate.
Nor are means of delivery difficult to devise or procure. Ports can be torpedoed by small boats lying off shore. Moreover, a thriving arms trade in ever more sophisticated military equipment provides ready access to what may be wanted, including planes and missiles suited nuclear warhead delivery. Lesser nuclear states can pursue deterrent strategies effectively. Deterrence requires the ability to inflict unacceptable damage on another country. To deter, a country need not appear to be able to destroy a fourth to a half of another country, although in some cases that might be easily done.
And what would be left of Israel if Tel Aviv and Haifa were destroyed? The weak can deter one another. But can the weak deter the strong? The population and industry of most States concentrate in a relatively small number of centres. This is true of the Soviet Union. Geoffrey Kemp in concluded that China would probably be able to strike on that scale. And, I emphasize again, China need only appear to be able to do it. A low probability of carrying a highly destructive attack home is sufficient for deterrence.
A force of an imprecisely specifiable minimum capability is nevertheless needed. In a study, Justin Galen pseud. He estimates that China has 60 to 80 medium-range and 60 to 80 intermediate-range missiles of doubtful reliability and accuracy and 80 obsolete bombers. But surely Russian leaders reason the other way around. Despite inaccuracies, a few Chinese missiles may hit Russian cities, and some bombers may get through.
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Not much is required to deter. What political-military objective is worth risking Vladivostock, Novosibirsk. Prevention and pre-emption are difficult games because the costs are so high if the games are not perfectly played.
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Inhibitions against using nuclear forces for such attacks are strong, although one cannot say they are absolute. Some of the inhibitions are simply human. Can country A find justification for a preventive or pre-emptive strike against B if B, in acquiring nuclear weapons, is imitating A? Awesome acts are hard to perform. Some of the inhibitions are political. The Credibility of Small Deterrent Forces. The first is physical.
Will such countries be able to construct and protect a deliverable force? We have found that they can readily do so. The second is psychological. Will an adversary believe that retaliation threatened will be carried out? Deterrent threats backed by second-strike nuclear forces raise the expected costs of war to such heights that war becomes unlikely. But deterrent threats may not be credible.
In a world where two or more countries can make them, the prospect of mutual devastation makes it difficult, or irrational, to execute threats should the occasion for doing so arise. Would it not be senseless to risk suffering further destruction once a deterrent force had failed to deter? Why retaliate once a threat to do so has failed? Instead, in retaliating, one may prompt the enemy to unleash more warheads. The Soviet Union, some feared, might believe that the United States would be self-deterred. One earlier solution to the problem was found in Thomas Sche!
No state can know for sure that another state will refrain from retaliating even when retaliation would be irrational. Bernard Brodie put the thought more directly, while avoiding the slippery notion of rationality. To ask why a country should carry out its deterrent threat once deterrence has failed is to ask the wrong question. The question suggests that an aggressor may attack believing that the attacked country may not retaliate. This invokes the conventional logic that analysts find so hard to forsake. In a conventional world, a country can sensibly attack if it believes that success is probable.
In a nuclear world, a country cannot sensibly attack unless it believes that success is assured. An attacker is deterred even if he believes only that the attacked may retaliate. One may nevertheless wonder, as Americans recently have, whether retaliatory threats remain credible if the strategic forces of the attacker are superior to those of the attacked. Given second-strike capabilities, it is not the balance of forces but the courage to use them that counts.
The balance or imbalance of strategic forces affects neither the calculation of danger nor the question of whose will is the stronger. Second-strike forces have to be seen in absolute terms. In answering these questions, we can learn something from the experience of the last three decades. The United States and the Soviet Union limited and modulated their provocative acts, the more carefully so when major values for one side or the other were at issue. This can be seen both in what they have and in what they have not done.
The United States, to take another example, could fight for years on a large scale in South-East ASia because neither success nor failure mattered much internationally. Victory would not have made the world one of American hegemony. Defeat would not have made the world one of Russian hegemony. No vital interest of either great power was at stake, as both Kissinger and Brezhnev made clear at the time. One can fight without fearing escalation only where little is at stake. And that is where the deterrent does not deter. Actions at the periphery can safely be bolder than actions at the centre.
In contrast, where much is at stake for one side, the other side moves with care. Trying to win where winning would bring the central balance into question threatens escalation and becomes too risky to contemplate. The United States is circumspect when East European crises impend. Thus Secretary of State Dulles assured the Soviet Union when Hungarians rebelled in October of that we would not interfere with efforts to suppress them.
Thus her probes in Berlin have been tentative, reversible, and ineffective. Strikingly, the long border between East and West Europe—drawn where borders earlier proved unstable—has been free even of skirmishes in all of the years since the Second World War. Both of the nuclear great powers become watchful and wary when events occur that may get out of control.
The strikes by Polish workmen that began in August of provide the most recent illustration of this.
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The Problem of Extended Deterrence. How far from the homeland does deterrence extend? One answers that question by defining the conditions that must obtain if deterrent threats are to be credited. First, the would-be attacker must be made to see that the deterrer considers the interests at stake to be vital ones. Nuclear weapons, however, strongly incline them to grope for de facto agreement on the answer rather than to fight over it.
Second, political stability must prevail in the area that the deterrent is intended to cover. It the threat to a regime is in good part from internal factions, then an outside power may risk supporting g one of them even in the face of deterrent threats. The credibility of a deterrent force requires both that interests be seen to be vital and that it is the attack from outside that threatens them.
Given these conditions, the would-be attacker provides both the reason to retaliate and the target for retaliation. Deterrence gains in credibility the more highly valued the interests covered seem to be. The problem of stretching a deterrent, which has so agitated the western alliance, is not a problem for lesser nuclear states.
Their problem is to protect not others but themselves. Many have feared that lesser nuclear states would be the first to break the nuclear taboo and that they would use their nuclear weapons irresponsibly. I expect just the opposite. Weak states find it easier than strong states to establish their credibility.
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Not only will they not be trying to stretch their deterrent forces to cover others, but also their vulnerability to conventional attacks lends credence to their nuclear threats. Because in a conventional war they can lose so much so fast, it is easy to believe that they will unleash a deterrent force even at the risk of receiving a nuclear blow in return. With deterrent forces, the party that is absolutely threatened prevails. Use of nuclear weapons by lesser states will come only if survival is at stake.
And this should be called not irresponsible but responsible use. An opponent who attacks what is unambiguously mine risks suffering great distress if they have second-strike forces. This statement has important implications for both the deterrer and the deterred.
Where territorial claims are shadowy and disputed, deterrent writs do not run. As Steven J. Establishing the credibility of a deterrent force requires moderation of territorial claims on the part of the would-be deterrer. For modest states, weapons whose very existence works strongly against their use are just what is wanted.
In a nuclear world, conservative would-be attackers will be prudent, but will all would-be attackers be conservative? A new Hitler is not unimaginable. After all, the western democracies had not come to the aid of a geographically defensible and militarily strong Czechoslovakia. In those years, Hitler would almost surely have been deterred from acting in ways the immediately threatened massive death and widespread destruction in Germany.
And, if Hitler had not been deterred, would his generals have obeyed his commands? In a nuclear world, to act in blatantly offensive ways is madness. Under the circumstances, how many generals would obey the commands of a madman? One man alone does not make war. To believe that nuclear deterrence would have worked against Germany in is easy. It is also easy to believe that in , given the ability to do so, Hitler and some few around him would have fired nuclear warheads at the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union as their armies advanced, whatever the consequences for Germany.
Two considerations, however, work against this possibility. Early in Hitler apparently ordered the initiation of gas warfare, but no one responded. In the latter, no country will press another to the point of decisive defeat In the desperation of defeat desperate measures may be taken, but the last thing anyone wants to do is to make a nuclear nation feel desperate. The unconditional surrender of a nuclear nation cannot be demanded. Considering one such scenario is worthwhile because it has achieved some popularity among those who believe that deterrence is difficult.
Albert Wohlstetter imagines a situation in which the Soviet Union might strike first. Her leaders might decide to do so in a desperate effort to save a sinking regime. Imagination places the Soviet Union in a situation where striking first is bad, but presumably not striking first is even worse.
One common characteristic of scenarios is that they are compounded of odd elements. How can the Soviet Union suffer disastrous defeat in a peripheral war? Another common characteristic of scenarios is the failure to say how the imagined act will accomplish the end in view. Some rulers will do anything to save themselves and their regimes.
That is the assumption. But how a regime can hope to save itself by making a nuclear strike at a superior adversary, or at any adversary having a second-strike force, is not explained. Why is not striking first even worse than doing so, and in what way does it entail a smaller risk? We are not told. The most important common characteristic of scenarios, and often their fatal flaw, is also present in this one.
The scenarist imagines a state in the midst of a terrible crisis in which the alternatives are so bad that launching a first strike supposedly makes some sense, but he does not say how this situation might come about. How could the Soviet Union get into such a mess, and what would other states be doing in the meantime?
Scenarios often feature just one player, keeping others in the background even though two or more states are necessarily involved in melting and in preventing wars. To think that the Soviet Union would strike the United States because of incipient revolt within her borders is silly. To think that the Soviet Union would strike first believing that we were about to do so is not. It is sometimes surprisingly difficult for strategists to think of the actions and interactions of two or more states at the same time.
No country will goad a nuclear adversary that finds itself in sad straits. No one would want to provoke an already desperate country it that country had strategic nuclear weapons. Equally, a regime in crisis would desperately want to avoid calling nuclear warheads down upon itself. What scenansts imagine seldom has much to do with how governments behave.
Three confusions mark many discussions of deterrence. Second, those who are sceptical of deterrence easily slip back from nuclear logic, by which slight risk of great damage deters, to conventional logic, by which states may somewhat sensibly risk war on narrowly calculated advantages. Thus some Amencans fear that the Soviet Union will strike first—destroying most of our land-based warheads, planes on the ground, submarines in port, and much else besides.
No one can say what the odds might be. They have failed to notice that radical states usually show caution in their foreign policies and to notice that nuclear weapons further moderate the behaviour of such states when vital interests are at issue. Nuclear peace depends not on rulers and those around them being rational but on their aversion to running catastrophic risks. Arms Races among New Nuclear States. One may easily believe that American and Russian military doctrines have set the pattern that new nuclear states will follow. One may then also believe that they will suffer the fate of the United States and the Soviet Union, that they will compete in building larger and larger nuclear arsenals while continuing to accumulate conventional weapons.
These are doubtful beliefs. One can infer the future from the past only insofar as future situations may be like present ones for the actors involved. First, nuclear weapons alter the dynamics of arms races. In a competition of two or more parties, it may be hard to say who is pushing and who is being pushed, who is leading and who is following. If one party seeks to increase its capabilities, it may seem that the other s must too. The dynamic may be built into the competition and may unfold despite a mutual wish to resist it.
But need this be the case in a strategic competition between nuclear countries? It need not be if the conditions of competition make deterrent logic dominant. Deterrent logic dominates if the conditions of competition make it nearly impossible for any of the competing parties to achieve a first-strike capability. Early in the nuclear age, the implications of deterrent strategy were clearly seen. The United States has sometimes designed her forces according to that logic. Donald A. To repeat: If no state can launch a disarming attack with high confidence, force comparisons are irrelevant.
Strategic arms races are then pointless. Those who foresee nuclear arms racing among new nuclear states fail to make the distinction between war-fighting and war-deterring capabilities. War-fighting forces, because they threaten the forces of others, have to be compared. With war-fighting strategies. Forces designed for deterring war need not be compared.
Because thwarting a first strike is easy, deterrent forces are quite cheap to build and maintain. Once that capability is assured, additional strategic weapons are useless. More is not better if less is enough. Deterrent balances are also inherently stable. This is the way French leaders have thought. Human error and folly may lead some parties involved in deterrent balances to spend more on armaments than is needed, but other parties need not increase their armaments in response, because such excess spending does not threaten them.
The logic of deterrence eliminates incentives for strategic arms racing. Because most of them are economically hard pressed, they will not want to have more than enough. Allowing for their particular circumstances, lesser nuclear states confirm these statements in their policies. Britain and France are relatively rich countries, and they tend to overspend. Their strategic forces are nevertheless modest enough when one considers that their purpose is to deter the Soviet Union rather than states with capabilities comparable to their own. China of course faces the same task.
These three countries show no inclination to engage in nuclear arms races with anyone. India appears content to have a nuclear military capability that may or may not have produced deliverable warheads, and Israel maintains her ambiguous status. New nuclear states are likely to conform to these patterns and aim for a modest sufficiency rather than vie with each for a meaningless superiority. Second, because strategic nuclear arms races among lesser powers are unlikely, the interesting question is not whether they will be run but whether countries having strategic nuclear weapons can avoid running conventional races.
No more than the United States and the Soviet Union will lesser nuclear states want to rely on the deterrent threat that risks all. And will not their vulnerability to conventional attack induce them continue their conventional efforts? American policy as it has developed since the early s again teaches lessons that mislead. For almost two decades, we have emphasized the importance of having a continuum of forces that would enable the United States and her allies to fight at any level from irregular to strategic nuclear warfare.
A policy that decreases reliance on deterrence increases the chances that wars will be fought. This was well appreciated in Europe when we began to place less emphasis on deterrence and more on defence. The policy of flexible response lessened reliance on strategic deterrence and increased the chances of fighting a war.
New nuclear states are not likely to experience this problem. The decrease followed from the making of peace with Egypt and not from increased reliance on nuclear weapons. Since they are by no means unambiguously hers, deterrent threats, whether implicit or explicit, will not cover them. From previous points it follows that nuclear weapons are likely to decrease arms racing and reduce military costs for lesser nuclear states in two ways. Conventional arms races will wither if countries shift emphasis from conventional defence to nuclear deterrence.
For Pakistan. And deterrent strategies make nuclear arms races pointless. The success of a deterrent strategy does not depend on the extent of territory a state holds, a point made earlier. It merits repeating because of its unusual importance for states whose geographic limits lead them to obsessive concern for their security in a world of ever more destructive conventional weapons.
The Frequency and Intensity of War. The presence of nuclear weapons makes wars less likely. One may nevertheless oppose the spread of nuclear weapons on the ground that they would make war, however unlikely, unbearably intense should it occur. Nuclear weapons have not been fired in anger in a world in which more than one country has them. We have enjoyed three decades of nuclear peace and may enjoy many more. But we can never have a guarantee. We may be grateful for decades of nuclear peace and for the discouragement of conventional war among those who have nuclear weapons.
Yet the fear is widespread, and naturally so, that if they ever go off, we may all die. People as varied as the scholar Richard Smoke, the arms controller Paul Warnke, and former Defense Secretary Harold Brown all believe that if any nuclear weapons go off, many will. Although this seems the least likely of all the unlikely possibilities, it is not impossible.
What makes it so unlikely is that, even if deterrence should fail, the prospects for rapid de-escalation are good. For military, although not for budgetary, strategy this was the wrong question. States are not deterred because they expect to suffer a certain amount of damage but because they cannot know how much damage they will suffer. States are deterred by the prospect of suffering severe damage and by their physical inability to do much to limit it.
Defensive measures can reduce casualties, but they would still be immense were either of the great powers launch a determined attack. Warheads numbered in the hundreds can destroy the United and the Soviet Union as viable societies no matter what defensive measures they take. Deterrence works because nuclear weapons enable one state to punish another state severely without first defeating it.
Those who compare expected deaths through strategic exchanges of nuclear warheads with casualties suffered by the Soviet Union in World War II overlook this fundamental difference between conventional and nuclear worlds. Deterrence rests on what countries can do to each other with strategic nuclear weapons. From this statement, one easily leaps to the wrong conclusion: that deterrent strategies, if they have to be carried through, will produce a catastrophe.
The United States has long had the ability to place hundreds of warheads precisely on targets in the Soviet Union. The intent to do so is sometimes confused with a war-fighting strategy, which it is not. It is a deterrent strategy, resting initially on the threat to punish. The threat, if it fails to deter, is appropriately followed not by spasms of violence but by punishment administered in ways that convey threats to make the punishment more severe.
First, deterrent strategies induce caution all around and thus reduce the incidence of war. Second, wars fought in the face of strategic nuclear weapons must be carefully limited because a country having them may retaliate if its vital interests are threatened. Fourth, should deterrence fail, a few judiciously delivered warheads are likely to produce sobriety in the leaders of all of the countries involved and thus bring rapid de-escalation. War-fighting strategies offer no clear place to stop short of victory for some and defeat for others. A war between the United States and the Soviet Union that did get out of control would be catastrophic.
Even while destroying themselves, states with few weapons would do less damage to others. As ever, the biggest international dangers come from the strongest states. Since the great powers are unlikely to be drawn into the nuclear wars of others, the added global dangers posed by the spread of nuclear weapons are small. The spread of nuclear weapons threatens to make wars more intense at the local and not at the global level, where wars of the highest intensity have been possible for a number of years. Lesser nuclear states will live in fear of this possibility. But this is not different from the fear under which the United States and the Soviet Union have lived for years.
Small nuclear states may experience a keener sense of desperation because of extreme vulnerability to conventional as well as to nuclear attack, but, again, in desperate situations what all parties become most desperate to avoid is the use of strategic nuclear weapons. Still, however improbable the event, lesser states may one day fire some of their weapons. Are minor nuclear states more or less likely to do so than major ones? The answer to this question is vitally important because the existence of some States would be at stake even if the damage done were regionally confined.
Looking at the situation of weaker nuclear states and at the statements of stronger nuclear states, one suspects that weak states are less likely to use nuclear weapons first than are strong ones. Moreover, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of , American officials considered using nuclear weapons in the Middle East if need be.
At various times, some Americans have thought of reasons for making limited counterforce strikes—firing a few missiles at the Soviet Union to show our determination—an idea revived by James R. Schlesinger when he was Secretary of Defense. Among others, Generals Earle G. Presidential Directive 59, signed by President Carter in July of , contemplates fighting a limited nuclear war, perhaps a prolonged one, if deterrence should fail.
The United States and the Soviet Union have more readily contemplated the use of nuclear weapons than lesser nuclear states have done or are likely to do.