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IR Week 10- Nuclear Deterrence Theory

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jean Yves Haine

26/11/2013 Nuclear Deterrence Elements of deterrence- 1. A decision maker must be convinced that it will get a nuclear response- total destruction, if you want to defend yourself you need to send the message that if he attacks me he will be utterly destroyed. Show your opponent you’re nuts. MAD- mutually assured destruction 2. Capability- what you need to have is a capacity for second strike. Need to have an arsenal that can sustain a first attack so you can respond in kind. If your adversary believes that he can destroy all of your nuclear capacities in one strike, then there is no deterrence. Incentive to strike first- thinks he can escape total destruction of own country. CW- technology not properly developed, US had wings of strategy bombers nuclear loaded- you wanted to have capacity to strike after in an attack. Must be convinced that a first strike is suicidal. US tried to deprive USSR of a strike. First 10 year developments were massive. Strike overkill- maybe we can get capacity to destroy soviet union so they cannot strike back- incentive to have a lot of nuclear capacity. Conditions of deterrence were not reached yet. 1962- put condition of deterrence between US and Moscow- to reach point where you know opponent has capacity of second strike. Key development was nuclear submarines carrying missiles. Powered by nuclear engines. Always a capacity for second strike now. Different postures US took in nuclear arsenal- Massive retaliation: Based on principal of MAD. No flexibility to solve crises. Every time USSR pushes, all we have is massive retaliation. Kissinger- this is not feasible. Cannot risk our nation for a small conflict of interest. 1958- country on coast of Japan. US only response was massive retaliation- won’t work. Need to send USSR a more appropriate message. Start of flexible response- don’t use nukes for a small conflict of interest. Basic problem of massive retaliation. Game of tit-for-tat which gives possibility of diplomacy. Flexible Response: NATO- flexible response. French questioned extended deterrence under NATO- US Government will never risk its own country to defend European. Will only put at risk if defending the US itself- didn’t agree with deterrence applying to other countries you protect. Can only defend your own country. Cannot have alliance in classic sense when you have nuclear weapons. Known as the Great Equaliser. Always aimed at US government. When you are building nukes, you have some stages where that development is not stable at all. When one or both of the dyadic are not convinced that your opponent has capacity of second strike or has a small capacity, there are many pitfalls to nuclear deterrence. 1. Catalytic Posture- your nuclear capability is small, your opponent may see incentive to strike first because of this. Small nuclear arsenal just a way to trigger a massive onslaught by the US. Have to convince opponent that you don’t have many nukes, but can say you have an understanding with an ally to back you up. Third Party intervention 2. Assured Retaliation. Separate vehicles so opponent doesn’t know where they are. This does not deter conventional attack especially if it is limited in scope. To achieve that you need to introduce your weapons. If you want to deter conventional attack, you need to send a clear message. Must have operational on the field. If you reach the stage where you say that my small arsenal is ready for use, your posture is asymmetric information. Must say that any attack will lead to a nucl
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