Pifer and O'Hanlon make a compelling case for further arms control measures—to reduce the nuclear threat to the United States and its allies, to strengthen strategic stability, to promote greater transparency regarding secretive nuclear arsenals, to create the possibility for significant defense budget savings, to bolster American credibility in the fight to curb nuclear proliferation, and to build a stronger and more sustainable U.S.-Russia relationship.
President Obama gave priority to nuclear arms control early in his first term and, by all accounts, would like to be transformational on these questions. Can there be another major U.S.-Russia arms treaty? Can the tactical and surplus strategic nuclear warheads that have so far escaped controls be brought into such a framework? Can a modus vivendi be reached between the two countries on missile defense? And what of multilateral accords on nuclear testing and production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons? Pifer and O'Hanlon concisely frame the issues, the background, and the choices facing the president; provide practical policy recommendations, and put it all in clear and readable prose that will be easily understood by the layman.
But is it realistic or even wise to envision a world without nuclear weapons? More and more people seem to think so. Barack Obama has declared "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." But that is easier said than done. Michael O'Hanlon places his own indelible stamp on this critical issue, putting forth a "friendly skeptic's case for nuclear disarmament."
Calls to "ban the bomb" are as old as the bomb itself, but the pace and organization of nonproliferation campaigns have picked up greatly recently. The growing Global Zero movement, for example, wants treaty negotiations to begin in 2019. Would this be prudent or even feasible in a world that remains dangerous, divided, and unpredictable? After all, America's nuclear arsenal has been its military trump card for much of the period since World War II. Pursuing a nuclear weapons ban prematurely or carelessly could alarm allies, leading them to consider building their own weapons—the opposite of the intended effect.
O'Hanlon clearly presents the dangers of nuclear weapons and the advantages of disarmament as a goal. But even once an accord is in place, he notes, temporary suspension of restrictions may be necessary in response to urgent threats such as nuclear "cheating" or discovery of an advanced biological weapons program. To take all nuclear options off the table forever strengthens the hand of those that either do not make that pledge or do not honor it. For the near term, traditional approaches to arms control, including dismantling existing bomb inventories, can pave the way to make a true nonproliferation regime possible in the decades ahead.
Cold War studies of nuclear weapons emphasized the U.S.-Soviet relationship, deterrence, and bilateral arms control. A less structured post-Cold War world will require more nuanced appreciation of the diversity of roles that nuclear weapons might play in the hands of new nuclear states or non-state actors. As the essays suggest as well, the possibility of terrorism by means of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction introduces other uncertainties into military and policy planning. An important analysis for scholars, students, and researchers involved with defense, security, and foreign policy studies.
In this important book, Indian strategic analyst Verghese Koithara explains and evaluates India's nuclear force management, encouraging a broad public conversation that may act as a catalyst for positive change before the subcontinent experiences unthinkable carnage.
The defense management system of a nuclear power absolutely needs to be sound and thorough. In addition to the considerable demands of managing its nuclear forces, it also must control conventional forces in a manner that forestalls nuclear escalation of a conflict by either side. Expanding and upgrading nuclear forces without enhancing deterrence is dangerous and should be avoided. India's nuclear force management system is grafted onto a woefully inadequate overall system of defense management.
Koithara dissects all of these issues and suggests a way forward, drawing on recent developments in deterrence theory around the world.
This study, jointly sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, examines the strategic, technological, and political issues raised by ballistic missile defense. Eight contributors take an analytical approach to their areas of expertise, which include the relationship of missile defense to nuclear strategy, the nature and potential applications of current and future technologies, the views on missile defense in the Soviet Union and among the smaller nuclear powers, the meaning of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for today's technology, and the present role and historical legacy of ballistic missile defense in the context of East-West relations. The volume editors give a comprehensive introduction to this wide range of subjects and an assessment of future prospects. In the final chapter, nine knowledgeable observers offer their varied personal views on the ballistic missile defense question.