REMOVING THE NUCLEAR SHADOW: THE POLITICAL CONTEXT
Technology and politics are taking the superpowers into the postnuclear era.1 This is not an era in which nuclear weapons will be irrelevant. But the shadow cast by U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons over the rest of international relations will be diminished. The result is a situation that is less likely to lead to a war totally destructive of civilization, should deterrence fail. However, deterrence may be less secure as complexity replaces simplicity and as the instinct of nuclear dread no longer suffices to keep superpowers and their allies from being at swords' points.
The downside of a less dreadful, and perhaps less secure, deterrence has at least four aspects with regard to U.S., Soviet, and NATO European force structures and war plans. These include (1) the possibility of high-technology conventional warfare, including war in Europe, (2) the challenge of preserving stable deterrence and attaining arms control with a potpourri of nuclear and improved conventional forces, (3) the replacement of a single political divide between the East and the West with a plural set of controversies, and (4) the "ACI factor" of accidental, catalytic, or inadvertent war, which can never be ruled out of war plans or arms-control negotiations.
The paradox of nuclear weapons is that they may purchase superpower strategic stability at the cost of more instability in areas outside U.S. and Soviet core security zones or obviously vital interests. Although no war