Stephen J. Cimbala
Contributors to this volume were asked the evaluate the future of deterrence, of proliferation, or both. This chapter summarizes what we have learned and what implications these findings may hold for theory and policy. Although insights from all contributors have influenced what is written here, the editor bears sole responsibility for these arguments and opinions.
Nuclear deterrence is not dead, like the Soviet Union, or obsolete, like hula hoops. Nuclear deterrence remains important for global security because nuclear weapons are still there and, even if they were not, the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons would be. What has ended is the U.S.-Soviet global geopolitical and ideological competition. Nuclear deterrence in the twenty-first century, therefore, will not be focused on avoiding a major conventional war in Europe or on preventing massive exchanges of weapons between North Dakota and Siberia.
The Cold War emphasis on deterring a major war in Europe and/or a conflict between the Americans and Soviets created a certain bias, not to say laziness, in analysis. As the numbers of survivable weapons in American and Soviet arsenals grew into many thousands, it became clear that there would be no winners or even Phyrric victors in a nuclear