• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9
  10. 10
    10
  11. 11
    11
  12. 12
    12
  13. 13
    13
  14. 14
    14

Is deterrence still a useful concept in the post-Cold War world?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Is deterrence still a useful concept in the post-Cold War world? ABSTRACT The literature discussing the role of nuclear weapons and nuclear policy in international relations has been historically shaped by the related concepts of deterrence and mutual assurance. However, whilst analysis of the 'First Nuclear Age' of the Cold War era clearly demonstrates a link between deterrence and the development of nuclear weapons, the gradual proliferation of nuclear weapons programmes in the post-Cold War era in states such as Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan clearly points to a shifting justificatory rationale for nuclear weapons. This essay develops the argument that deterrence theory no longer provides a comprehensive explanation of the role of nuclear weapons in international relations. Instead, it is now clear that further research is needed to examine the relationship between the various motivational factors underpinning nuclear weapons programmes and changing international norms in order to truly evaluate the stabilising or potentially destabilising impact of nuclear weapons in international relations. 1. INTRODUCTION In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, international policymakers became overwhelmingly preoccupied with the potential ramifications of nuclear warfare within the world political order. After the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Stalin issued a clear demand to his comrades: "Provide us with atomic weapons in the shortest possible time. You know that Hiroshima has shaken the whole world. The balance has been destroyed. Provide the bomb - it will remove a great danger from us" (cited in Sagan, 1996/97: 58). Stalin's demand at the close of the Second World War ushered in the beginnings of the Cold War and what has been termed the 'First Nuclear Age' (Walton & Gray, 2007). During this period nuclear weapons programmes were rooted directly in the attempts of both superpowers to assert power in the international arms race (Freedman, 2005). The collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War marked the end of the 'First Nuclear Age' (Walton & Gray, 2007: 210) ...read more.

Middle

Indeed, the inherent difficulty in considering existing norms and emotions in nuclear policy and international relations is their subjective nature as they exist beyond material or legal dimensions and lack empirical evidence. Some realists have tried to reconcile this by arguing that the emotional norms are part of a state's struggle for power gains (Gray, 1999). Mearsheimer has provided further support to the deterrence theory utilising NATO'S nuclear policies. The overall objectives of NATO require that member states share the risk and responsibilities of preserving international peace and security in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter. Nuclear weapons comprise a key part of NATO's defence plans and collective defence policy. According to the defence doctrine of NATO laid down in 1949, the defence policy ensures "the ability to carry out strategic bombing including the prompt delivery of the atomic bomb," going on to state that "this is primarily a US responsibility assisted as practicable by other nations" (NATO Strategy Document 1949 -1969, M.C.3/2). Mearsheimer argues that with regard to the NATO nuclear deterrent "with the presence of thousands of nuclear weapons, there is good reason to be very confident about NATO'S deterrence posture" (Mearshimer, 1985; Gray, 1999: 45). He further argues that it is vital in the international arena to keep the military risk high in order to make deterrence more effective (Gray, 1999: 21). One may argue, however, that the potential costs of such measures may outweigh the deterrent effect. Conversely, critics of the deterrence theory have argued that it is outdated and that its underlying assumptions are naïve and not applicable to contemporary state leaders and international relations policy (Gray, 1999). In this, deterrence theory is underpinned by the assumption that the opponent is rational and mutually vulnerable and that the opponent is in fact a state (Gray, 1999). Opponents of the deterrence theory also highlight the fact that as a theory, deterrence has not been practically tested, and cannot provide unequivocal evidence that the Soviet Union was actually deterred by the USA during the Cold War (Segal, 1988: 21). ...read more.

Conclusion

Deterrence theory - centred on the prevention of the use of nuclear weapons - fails to properly address the issue of causality triggers behind nuclear policies. Whilst deterrence theory undoubtedly explains much about nuclear weapons programmes in the international system, the inherent weakness of the theory is that it fails to account for the changing global political climate, whereby nuclear strategy and proliferation is shaped by complex, multifarious objectives. It is further argued that the stability of the international system and the political balance at the international level is inherently dependent on the axis of nuclear control. While deterrence theory was appropriate to explain the 'stabilising' effect of nuclear policy in the First Nuclear Age, it is plainly inadequate for the current political climate. The impact of a nuclear weapons programme is inherently dependent on the political and social climate at any given time. Though in some periods nuclear weapons act more as a stabilising force, it must be stated that the risk of destabilisation remains potent as long as nuclear weapons exist as a potential tool in the battle for international clout. Yet beyond this, deterrence theory has clearly been subverted by North Korea and Iran with anti-colonial undertones motivating their nuclear strategies. Indeed, it is interesting to note that the bolstering of anti-proliferation legislation and the inception of the CTBT in 1996 paradoxically only served to fuel India's nuclear weapons programme (Tannerwald, 2005). Not only does this again highlight the weakness of the deterrence theory in contemporary politics, it further highlights the failure of official measures to consider causality in foreign policy motivation, which in turn renders the nuclear weapon a potent tool for destabilising international relations. In order to redress this risk and achieve the overall purpose of the idealistic deterrence theory, it is proposed that in addition to considerations of causality, institutional frameworks assuming responsibility for international nuclear enforcement should consider actively working towards a compromise co-operative model with these 'rogue' nuclear states and non-state organisations. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree International Relations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree International Relations essays

  1. The End of the Cold War and the Emergence of the Post-Cold War World

    He was apparently not as afraid of innovative thinking and thinkers as his ancestors, as well. Therefore, his idea of drastic reform also included a few new concepts, the most fundamental ones amongst them - for openness and restructuring, respectively 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika'.

  2. Critically evaluate the concept of human security

    adopting an integral understanding of human rights. 2.1. Components of Human security Human security as defined by the UNDP, has two main aspects: 1) safety from such chronic threats as hunger, disease and repression; and 2) protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life -whether in homes, in jobs or in communities.

  1. What international factors, with particular reference to the United States, have accounted for the ...

    When independence was achieved in 1947 the Maharajas of these princely states acceded to one of the new states of India and Pakistan. Although this potentially highly difficult process largely occurred without significant turmoil and bloodshed, some disputes inevitably emerged.

  2. A Critical Analysis of David Rieff's Slaughterhouse - Bosnia and the Failure of the ...

    led to the implementation of December 1995 peace treaty; and this too under a limited mandate offered by the members of the Security Council. Quoting Fred Cuny, a UN peacekeeper, Rieff writes: "The UN is not the world's government. It is an organization of the world's governments.

  1. Critically evaluate the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in promoting global financial stability

    rationalize and stabilize... [their] exchange rate[s]... increase interest rates... reduce public sector expenditure... increase taxation... [and] eliminate subsidies". In addition, the World Bank forces recipients to undergo financial de-regulation in addition to opening up their economies to foreign investors, whilst privatizing their state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Together these neoliberal requirements have become known as the "Washington Consensus" (Woods 2006:8).

  2. International Relations Theory. The following analysis will outline the influence of the theories of ...

    According to Hopf, constructivism offers alternative understandings of the issues discussed above (in the sections on realism and liberalism) including balance of power and the meaning of anarchy. However, instead of taking the state for granted and assuming that it simply seeks power, constructivists âregard the interests and identities

  1. Which balance of power system is more stable: Unipolarity, Bipolarity or Multipolarity?

    This means that before a state decides to attack another it must think about who else it may be in effect attacking when it does so. Liberals believe that Multipolarity systems are stable, because the distribution of power tends towards more cooperation, which is very important as states are becoming

  2. Neoliberal economic policies and military intervention by dominant Western powers have been instrumental over ...

    Moreover, rather than bringing different ethnic groups together in Iraq, it will not be wrong to suggest that western intervention has created more problems. According to Smith, military occupation whipped up a civil war between different ethnic groups like Sunnis and Shias and thus leading to violence and to the deaths of millions of Iraqis (Smith 2011:8).

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work