A New Nuclear Century: Strategic Stability and Arms Control

By Stephen J. Cimbala; James Scouras | Go to book overview
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INTRODUCTION

This study is the result of an informative collaboration between colleagues from very different professional worlds. One author resides in the academic community and is a political scientist. The other is a physicist who is also an arms control expert and a consultant to a number of institutions that deal with nuclear weapons issues. Our collaboration has involved a two-way exchange of perspectives on a number of important policy issues related to nuclear strategy and arms control. We intend to follow this study with others.

In this book we consider various issues related to nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century. The issues are both technically and policy oriented. Science and values are commingled. This means that arguments about nuclear strategy, arms control and proliferation are apt to be contentious. The first months of the George W. Bush administration in 2001 indicated that political controversy about nuclear weapons would not go away despite the end of the Cold War and the officially nonhostile relationship between the United States and Russia.

In Chapter 1, we discuss the “crazy” mathematics of first-strike stability that preoccupied analysts and policymakers during the Cold War. It is important to keep this effort in perspective. By “crazy mathematics” we do not mean to imply slipshod methods or deceptive approaches on the part of the investigators. Instead, we refer to crazy mathematics as limiting approaches that blinded analysts to the more subtle aspects of nuclear force modeling relevant to the question of first-strike stability. And first strike-stability was itself a limiting concept. As frequently used in the literature, it approached a tautological mathematics or formula-driven assessment that succeeded

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