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

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  • Essay length: 4224 words
  • Submitted: 01/07/2009
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University Degree International Relations

The first 200 words of this essay...

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.

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