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Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this unique study examines the issue of nuclear deterrence and disarmament. Nuclear deterrence, like climate change, is a devilishly complex issue that tends to polarize its community of experts. Disarmament advocates talk about the catastrophic dangers posed by large nuclear weapon stockpiles. Proponents discuss the inherent security advantages provided by nuclear deterrence. With some notable exceptions, attitudes among world leaders in the past 40 years tend to support reduced weapon stockpiles and policies to prevent proliferation. The U.S., by virtue of its large nuclear stockpile and stature as a global superpower, remains a leader for this issue. U.S. leadership has long stated a policy towards nuclear disarmament that is conditional on the world environment and preserving security of U.S. interests and allies. This policy has generated numerous proposals by various strategists to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile to levels well below the current force structure. Inevitably, each proposal generates considerable debate about the quantity of the reduction. This paper contends that quantity of reductions should not be the primary focus of debate. Rather proposals should be analyzed within the larger context of a chronological continuum with New START as the initial point and global zero as the end point. This approach aligns the entire community along the same framework and permits objective analysis of each proposal's stated deterrence objectives, how they derive credibility for these objectives, and implications to U.S. policy. Several proposals were examined in the paper to populate the continuum. The end result shows that the process of reducing the U.S. stockpile to low numbers will have profound implications to U.S. nuclear policy that have not been adequately discussed or tested. Debate over what the 'right' number of weapons is must shift to how the U.S. credibly drives to zero.
On 5 April 2009, President Obama spoke at Hradcany Square in Prague and declared "So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." The President's speech and follow-on policy in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review emphasized a renewed focus on reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal with a long-term goal of global nuclear disarmament. The New START Treaty, entered into force on February 5, 2011, was another tangible result of this focus on the 'road to zero.' While even the staunchest advocates admit total disarmament could take generations, if ever, these events imply a commitment to cut stockpiles that go far beyond previous arms control agreements and unilateral actions and have reenergized focus on various proposals for deeper reductions. Most of these proposals are essentially static analyses that claim deterrence would be preserved at some new stockpile threshold. Inevitably, strategists then spend considerable time arguing why the various thresholds either 'go too far' or 'don't go far enough.' With all due respect to the experts, I contend they are missing the point. Rather than supporting or tearing apart each new proposal based on subjective stockpile numbers, proposals should be evaluated dynamically along a chronological continuum. This framework accommodates the idea that various thresholds may be valid at different times. Thus, it becomes more important to evaluate proposals based on their stated deterrence objectives, how they derive credibility for these objectives, and implications to U.S. policy when aligned chronologically along the 'road to zero.' To examine this approach, I will use several proposals that are representative of different points along the continuum.