Thinking about Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects

By Michael Quinlan | Go to book overview

6
Risks

Instability

The concept of mutual deterrence requires the reciprocal cancellation of options for war at any level between advanced powers. These powers have to accept—counter-intuitively, by past standards of security appraisal—that they must acquiesce in their own vulnerability. Through most of the nuclear era it has been a concern increasingly shared on all sides that this concept, as the best available underpinning of peace amid political disagreements and in the presence of fearsome destructive potential, should be stably implemented by the key countries in the international system.

The stability needed has been of two main kinds which are not always sufficiently distinguished. The first concerns deterrent efficacy in normal times—that is, the best practicable assurance that actions or other events are not likely to imperil the war-preventing balance by seeming to call into doubt the effective cancellation of options on both sides. The second concerns how to keep to a minimum the risks, if in time of crisis or conflict peace-time deterrence has faltered or failed, that (as is customarily believed to have happened with European mobilization and transport schedules in 1914) operational, logistical, or political features of the situation may work against taking decisions on adequate information and after proper consideration, with time available for communication and potential negotiation. Such risks could increase dangers of misjudgement precipitating an appalling conflict that might have been avoided.

During the cold war there were occasional surface disturbances— whether actual or threatened—of the military balance, and of the

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Thinking about Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword x
  • Preface xii
  • Abbreviations xx
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Significance of Nuclear Weapons 3
  • 1 - The Nuclear Revolution 5
  • 2 - The Tools of Thinking 13
  • 3 - Deterrence 20
  • 4 - Nuclear Deterrence in NATO 33
  • 5 - The Ethics of Nuclear Weapons 46
  • Part II - Managing Nuclear Weapons 57
  • 6 - Risks 59
  • 7 - Proliferation 76
  • 8 - Arms Racing, Costs, and Arms Control 88
  • 9 - Easements and Escape Routes 99
  • Part III - National Nuclear-Weapon Postures and Policies- Britain, India, Pakistan 113
  • 10 - United Kingdom Doctrine and Policy 115
  • 11 - Nuclear Weapons in South Asia 133
  • Part IV - The Path Ahead 151
  • 12 - The Abolition of Nuclear Armouries? 153
  • 13 - The Practical Agenda 166
  • Appendix 1 181
  • Appendix 2 184
  • Index 190
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