Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

By Thomas Graham Jr.; Keith A. Hansen | Go to book overview
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6 National and International Efforts
to Thwart Proliferation

As with many countries, the United States has both national and multinational options for ensuring its national security. The tools the United States may use for a given situation depend on many factors, and the tools that are likely to be effective depend on whether the target is a nation-state or a non-state actor, such as an international terrorist group, or both. Independent intelligence capabilities, effective diplomacy, economic sanctions, and, when appropriate, military force are the bedrock of a country's national tools for dealing with proliferation activities by nation-states and for preventing the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists. However, the United States has learned that some adjustments in the way it employs its national capabilities, including intelligence, have been required to deal with the challenge of terrorism.

Despite its power, the United States is rarely able to do anything effectively beyond its borders without the cooperation of one or more other countries. Multinational approaches are normally most effective in dealing with threats in the international arena. Even during World War II, the United States found it necessary, in spite of its unparalleled industrial and military might, to form military alliances (including with the Soviet Union, its ideological enemy) to fight the Japanese Imperialists and German Nazis. This was followed by the formation of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, among other international arrangements, to bolster US national security during the Cold War. However, US leaders have always viewed international efforts as supplementary to, not replacing, strong, independent national security capabilities.

As we discussed in our book Spy Satellites and Other Intelligence Technologies That Changed History, during the early days of the Cold War US policymakers were in desperate need of more detailed and reliable information on Soviet

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Preventing Catastrophe: The Use and Misuse of Intelligence in Efforts to Halt the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
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