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Lecture 23

CLASSICS 1M03 Lecture 23: Political Science 1AB3 2017 Lecture 8b nuclear overhead

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Claude Eilers

Political Science 1AB3 2017 Lecture 8b: To proliferate or not to proliferate - Did the threat of nuclear annihilation prevent the Cold War from getting hot? - Supporters of deterrence offer additional case support: - 1969 China-Soviet conflict - 1999 India-Pakistan clash - In many respects this is a critical case for proponents of nuclear deterrence - This was a case where it was least likely for nuclear deterrence theory to hold: o New nuclear powers o Limited Second Strike Capability o Less than Mutually Assured Destruction o History of conflict - Despite all the factors weighing against deterrence (and the fact that the conflict went right to the brink), in the end a full scale war was avoided Given the deterrence story, is the proliferation of nuclear weapons a security problem or a security solution? - There are “Proliferation Optimists” and “Proliferation Pessimists” (Waltz and Sagan) Proliferation Optimists: - If deterrence worked in the Cold War, then it should work in other cases as well - If more states are armed with nuclear warheads, all states will have to be more cautious in their foreign policy - Proliferation can produce peace Proliferation Pessimists: - A). Deterrence depends on certain assumptions that are unrealistic 1 - B). Even if we accept the logical persuasiveness of nuclear deterrence theory (and not everyone does), it does not necessarily follow that nuclear proliferation will result in increased security - Even if we accept the argument (hypothetically) that nuclear deterrence will prevent nuclear war 99.9% of the time o The potential consequences associated with a 0.1% failure rate may more than overwhelm the potential benefits of years of stability - According to critics, the more states that have nuclear weapons, the greater the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used - C). The present security environment presents several, perhaps insurmountable new challenges to the effectiveness of deterrence - Deterrence will only work if there is an identifiable target to be deterred and retaliate
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