Political Science 1G06 2013 II Lecture 7a: It’s a MAD world
1. What did international security look like in the Cold War?
2. Why did the Cold War stay cold?
3. What role did nuclear weapons play in keeping the cold war cold?
4. What does this imply about nuclear proliferation?
a. Is it a security problem or a security solution?
What was Cold about the Cold War: 1946-1991
- The Cold war was more than just a military standoff between two
military and industrial powers
- Both parties also represented fundamentally different ideological,
political, and economic systems
- It represented a “confrontation between two ways of life”
- It was assumed by most, including strategic planners, that the Cold
War would continue until it reached a tipping point where armed
conflict would ultimately resolve the issue
- Yet it did not
- The question that must be asked is, given all the antagonisms
between the two parties, given their opposition to one another in
every area of life, why did a war between the two sides not break
Nuclear Deterrence- a strategy of retaliation, not for defence.
- Nuclear deterrence is a security strategy based upon a simple
- Any invasion directed at the nuclear state or its allies will
automatically be responded to with a devastating nuclear
- In essence it makes the cost of military conflict too high for it to be
- If this logic is extended to a bi-polar system where both parties
have access to nuclear weapons, the net result is that all-out war of
any kind becomes less rather than more likely
- Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is the only outcome that
could result from either side using its weapons against its opponent
- War itself becomes irrational
1 - For MAD to work certain conditions have to be met:
- A) Rationality
- It is only possible to assume that an aggressive state will be
deterred from aggression if the state itself makes decisions
- B) Capability
- A state has to be capable of responding to an attack with a nuclear
- This means that a state must have a second strike capability: if
your opponent is able to destroy all of your nuclear weapons with
its initial assault, then you will have nothing lef