Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy

By Seigel, David T. | Military Review, November-December 2013 | Go to article overview

Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy


Seigel, David T., Military Review


NUCLEAR DETERRENCE IN THE 21St CENTURY

Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy

Therese Delpech, RAND Corporation

Santa Monica, CA, 2012, 181 pages, $15.47

ALTHOUGH THE COLD War ended without the United States and the Soviet Union fighting each other directly in a war that could have turned nuclear, there are a number of current scenarios that could lead to the use of one or multiple nuclear bombs for the first time since 1945. Written by the recently deceased Therese Delpech, Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century: Lessons from the Cold War for a New Era of Strategic Piracy, is a well-written and relevant book about the emergence of nuclear weapons in fragile or unstable countries or the potential possession of nuclear weapons by nonstate actors that provide unique security challenges.

With the backdrop of the ongoing crisis involving Iran and its quest to develop nuclear power capability and the West's determination to prevent them from developing the capability of weaponizing it, Delpech addresses one of the world's greatest security concerns. Although the likelihood of a massive nuclear war has decreased in the last 20 years, Delpech argues that the likelihood of a nuclear attack has increased. Possibilities include nuclear terrorism from a terrorist group not concerned with a retaliatory attack, radical Islamists challenging the Pakistani government and gaining control of their nuclear arsenal, a radical nonstate actor instigating a war between Pakistan and India, a North Korean attack, Israeli use in response to an existential threat (e.g., Iran), or even an increasingly assertive China.

A common theme in the book is that deterrence remains a relevant and necessary strategy as the West faces these significant security concerns in 2013 and beyond.

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