NONPROLIFERATION NORMS: Why States Choose Nuclear Restraint

By Stitt, Orrin | Military Review, July/August 2011 | Go to article overview

NONPROLIFERATION NORMS: Why States Choose Nuclear Restraint


Stitt, Orrin, Military Review


NONPROLIFERATION NORMS: Why States Choose Nuclear Restraint, Maria Rost Rublee, University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, 2009, 297 pages, $22.95.

Nonproliferation Norms is a theoretical and analytical study in nuclear decision making, using social psychology as a means of evaluating states' choices in the interactive and dynamic global environment. Maria Rost Rublee, a lecturer at the University of Auckland, is a former intelligence officer in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Her analyses of the democratic societies in Japan, Sweden, and Germany are complete and informative, giving the reader a comprehensive background and understanding of the decisionmaking dynamics involved in these countries.

By means of comparison between three theories of international relations dynamics, the author analyzes the tangible evidence surrounding the evolutions of five states' nuclear weapons programs. First, she explores the lens of "realism" and the implications of state independence and self-determination to create security, potentially through acquisition of nuclear weapons to offset national threats. The second theory, "neoliberal institutionalism," considers nonproliferation as a cooperative move to achieve lower transaction costs and increase transparency, where states benefit by technology transfer and international assistance with peaceful scientific nuclear programs, which outweigh the costs of sole (rogue) development. Finally, Rublee examines each of the five states' nuclear programs through "constructivism," her central premise, by which she investigates internal and international social environments, with roles and norms established by the nonproliferation community, which enforces states to conform to disarmament ideals.

However, her presupposition of constructivism as an encompassing model overlooks a fundamental realism aspect: internal threats to state security, particularly in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. Specifically, Egypt and Libya, two state governments that were the progeny of military coups in 1954 and 1969, respectively, are still susceptible to violent internal conflict. Both states previously pursued nuclear armament programs, only to later abandon their efforts and investments. Rublee attributes the cause as their desire to conform to international nonproliferation norms, whereas the truth is probably closer to a theory proposed by game-theorist and Nobel Laureate economist Thomas C. …

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