The Future's Back: Nuclear Rivalry, Deterrence Theory, and Crisis Stability after the Cold War

By Frank P. Harvey | Go to book overview

5 U.S.-Soviet Rivalry and Nuclear Deterrence

As demonstrated in chapter 2, current scholarship on nuclear deterrence is primarily speculative and focuses on the behaviour expected from nuclear antagonists faced with the prospect of mutual annihilation. By comparison, insufficient attention has been paid to the relationship between expected behaviour and actual results, particularly in the context of superpower crises. This chapter explores two additional propositions central to the theory of nuclear deterrence. As in chapter 4, the objective is to determine whether states act according to the logic stipulated in the theory. The propositions to be tested will be identified in the first section, followed by operationalization of key variables and aggregate analysis in the second and third sections, respectively. A summary of the findings in the fourth section will set the stage for a more detailed case study of U.S.-Soviet interaction during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The intention is to relate the aggregate results with those obtained from an in-depth study of a single crisis.


TESTING PROPOSITIONS

As Kugler ( 1984, 742) observes, "with impeccable logic, the rising spectre of nuclear devastation is linked to the preservation of peace. The very essence of this tightly structured argument is that, as the likelihood of virtual extermination increases, the probability that serious disputes will be resolved by nuclear war becomes exceedingly small. The terror created by the threat of nuclear devastation is,

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