BREIFING NOTE FOR POE116: INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
“MORE MAY BE BETTER” i
Do nuclear weapons contribute to increasing or decreasing stability? Although this topic is very debatable I am going to show how nuclear weapons increase stability in states.
Nuclear weapons enable a state to inflict a lot of damage at once to another state, if the other state does not have the ability to strike back. This is why the Nuclear Triad is so important, as it gives states a chance launch nuclear weapons from land, sea and air. If you knew that your enemy had a chance to launch a nuclear missile back, would you still go ahead with the launch?... No one in their right mind would attack a nuclear country with nuclear weapons, as it is just a disaster waiting to occur. Although there are some very obvious flaws with this theory, the benefits out weigh the risk. As nuclear weaponry becomes more common, it is just starting to prove over time how nuclear weapons really are a tool for peace and not weapons used for mass destruction.
Since the Cold War, a theory of “Nuclear Peace” was introduced to the world of international relations. It is a branched off the realist theory; therefore states live side by side with anarchy and are forced to provide their own security. One of the main causes of war is when states fight other states to increase security because they feel a threat from another state; but with nuclear peace and deterrence a state does not have to fight for security.ii Their “ego” or “reputation” does everything for them, would you really want to risk being in a nuclear waste zone because you did not think a state would actually go through with their threat? Powerful states with nuclear weapons coupled with states that have access to nuclear weapons create stability through the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and with the ability of multiple strikes through strategic bombers (air), Intercontinental ballistic missiles (land) and finally submarine-launched ballistic missiles (sea).
With the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, the bipolar world of Nuclear power was controlled by the United States and Russia. But since Russia inherited he nuclear power of the Soviet Union, the nuclear club has grown significantly in population, just over 9 states including: France, China, United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea have nuclear poweriii. Now of these 9 countries 5 have come together under the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Countries that hold such power with nuclear weapons understand the damage that a nuclear war can cause, short and long term. With a shift from bipolarity to multi polarity, the Treaty of Non-Proliferations goal is to stop the advancement of nuclear weapons and to even commence disassembling nuclear weapons. This leads to stability because more than ninety percent of all nuclear weapons are within this treaty via USA and Russia. If it was not for USA and Russia coming together the stability of all nuclear states would not be nearly as great as it is now. The cold war was stable in their bipolar world, but now the world is seeing the transformation to a multipolar world, which is changing how states view security. Moreover, under different agreements the United States provides NATO countries with access to nuclear weapons which, ultimately not only provides them with lethal weapons but more importantly provides them to be seen as a threat. Being feared is actually more important that having control over the weapons. USA went directly against the treaty by supporting NATO allied countries with nuclear weapons. But since USA is such a powerful country that these actions are overlooked and not brought up a as a big deal, even though the spread nuclear weapons goes directly against the intent of the treaty. With the multiple states gaining access to these weapons it creates less of a reason to view nuclear weapons as a rare commodity and more to view them as common. Through this controversial decision, almost every country has access if needed to nuclear weapons. Although some members of the nuclear club are not members of the treaty, they remain under control by the major powers of the United States and Russia. This allows USA and Russia to veto certain policies and have a direct impact on global issues. Power in the realist eyes is the ability to make a state/someone to do something that they would not ordinarily else wise do. USA and Russia are both viewed as powerful countries and even policing countries in today’s society. With out nuclear weapons USA and Russia may not be so powerful in today’s world which would result in a less stable world.
“Why fight if you can’t win and might lose everything?iv, founder of neo realism, Kenneth Waltz argues what the reason behind nuclear warfare is, if destruction is bound to occur. With nuclear technologies were they are now, second and third strike options available, it is just pointless for a nuclear attack. USA and Russia both have the technology to strike from land, sea and air and other countries have second-strike threats available.v But with this technology so expensive, it is just not realistic for every member of the nuclear club to have access to the triad. Although having countries with the nuclear triad would be idealistic, its stresses the importance of deterrence; it is such a key concept in nuclear peace theory as it allows for states to fear each other thus causing them to avoid using nuclear warfare. A perfect example of this is the Cold war, The Soviet Union knew that if they bombed USA that they would immediately retaliate and bomb them back. This causes stability. Fear actually causes stability. So nuclear weapons have a direct influence on how different states view other states level of threats. When thinking of war as an agreement, going to nuclear warfare is impossible to win; there is never a winner, and in today’s world there would always be at least 2 losing. If war has to be an agreement, this means states leaders acknowledge that the safety and wellbeing for their state will be in danger. Seeing how no nuclear power has ever been attacked or invadedvi nuclear peace almost seems like the way of the future. Everyone is afraid of the unknown and especially militaries, nuclear warfare is an unknown way of war and it creates a huge problem for militaries to even think about what would happen in the event of nuclear warfare. A key part to understand deterrence is realizing other countries strengths and actually respecting them via fear.
i Sagan, Scott Douglas, and Kenneth Neal Waltz. The spread of nuclear weapons: a debate. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995. (1)
ii Snyder, Glenn Herald. Deterrence and defense: toward a theory of national security. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961.
iii "Federation of American Scientists :: Status of World Nuclear Forces."Federation of American Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. <http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/nukes/nuclearweapons/nukestatus.html.
iv "How Nuclear Weapons Can Keep You Safe."Newsweek - Newsweek. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013. <http://mag.newsweek.com/2009/08/28/why-obama-should-learn-to-love-the-bomb.html>.
v "Toning Up the Nuclear Triad - TIME."Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews - TIME.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013. <http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,959948,00.html
vi Major (The RCR) Christian Breede, CD MA. In class October 3, 2013.