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

By Frank P. Harvey | Go to book overview

6 Nuclear Stability
after the Cold War

The behavioural patterns of the United States and the Soviet Union during international crises from 1948 to 1988 are mostly consistent with expectations of rationality derived from nuclear deterrence theory. The results have emerged from two alternative testing strategies, presented in chapters 4 and 5, respectively. 1 Several questions about nuclear stability in a post-Cold War world, noted at the outset of this project, are addressed in the first section of this chapter: specifically, Will the collapse of the Soviet Union create a more stable or a more hostile nuclear environment as we approach the twenty-first century? Will the shift away from power bipolarity intensify or diminish the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and other parts of the developing world? If proliferation intensifies, will the crisis management behaviour of prospective nuclear states mirror the patterns exhibited by the United States and the USSR throughout the Cold War? The second section evaluates, in more general terms, the ongoing importance of research on U.S.-Soviet crises and the continuing relevance of realist theories, like deterrence, to the study of international politics and foreign policy. The conclusion summarizes the contributions of the project and returns to the issue of integrative cumulation in IR.


PLAYING BY RULES: BOUNDED
RATIONALITY IN NUCLEAR CRISES

Gaddis' ( 1986, 99) observations are appropriate as a starting point: "the post-World War II system of international relations, which nobody

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