A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament

Brookings Institution Press
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In 2007 two former U.S. secretaries of state, a defense secretary, and a former senator wrote persuasively in the Wall Street Journal that the time had come to move seriously toward a nuclear-free world. Almost two years later, the Global Zero movement was born with its chief aim to rid the world of such weapons once and for all by 2030.

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.

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About the author

Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow and the director of research in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the Sydney Stein Jr. Chair. He is the author of numerous books, including Toughing It Out in Afghanistan, with Hassina Sherjan (Brookings, 2010), The Science of War (Princeton University Press, 2009), and Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security, with Kurt Campbell (Basic Books, 2006). He is also senior author of the Brookings Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan indexes.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Sep 30, 2010
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Pages
174
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ISBN
9780815705086
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Strategy
Political Science / International Relations / Arms Control
Political Science / International Relations / Diplomacy
Political Science / Political Freedom
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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These are extraordinary times in U.S. national security policy. America remains engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan while facing a global economic downturn. Homeland security concerns still abound in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Even as the financial crisis places considerable pressure on the U.S. budget, President Obama will have to spend a great deal of time and money on national security, hard power, and war. How should these competing demands be prioritized? How much money will be needed? How much will be available, and how should it be spent?

Budgeting for Hard Power continues the long and proud tradition of Brookings analysis on defense spending. As with previous volumes, this book examines the budgets of the Pentagon and the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs. But Michael O'Hanlon takes his analysis further, addressing the wide range of activities crucial for American security as a result of 9/11 and the ongoing wars. He considers homeland security resources and selected parts of the State Department and foreign operations budgets—offering a more complete overall look at the elements that make up America's "hard power" budget, a concept that he and Kurt Campbell wrote about in Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security (2006).

With future federal deficits projected to top $1 trillion, O'Hanlon calls for Defense, State, and Homeland Security budgets to be as frugal as possible. At the same time, he recognizes that resources should be selectively increased in certain areas to compensate for years of systematic underfunding, especially in certain areas of homeland security, diplomacy, and foreign assistance. In his typically clear and concise manner, O'Hanlon shows policymakers how to wrestle with the resource allocation decisions affecting the national security of the United States.

Soon to be a major motion picture from the director of The Hangover starring Jonah Hill, the page-turning, behind-closed-doors account of how three kids from Florida became big-time weapons traders for the government and how the Pentagon later turned on them.

In January of 2007, three young stoners from Miami Beach were put in charge of a $300 million Department of Defense contract to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. Instead of fulfilling the order with high-quality arms, Efraim Diveroli, David Packouz, and Alex Podrizki (the dudes) bought cheap Communist-style surplus ammunition from Balkan gunrunners. The trio then secretly repackaged millions of rounds of shoddy Chinese ammunition and shipped it to Kabul—until they were caught by Pentagon investigators and the scandal turned up on the front page of The New York Times.

That’s the “official” story. The truth is far more explosive. For the first time, journalist Guy Lawson tells the thrilling true tale. It’s a trip that goes from a dive apartment in Miami Beach to mountain caves in Albania, the corridors of power in Washington, and the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawson’s account includes a shady Swiss gunrunner, Russian arms dealers, Albanian thugs, and a Pentagon investigation that caused ammunition shortages for the Afghanistan military. Lawson exposes the mysterious and murky world of global arms dealing, showing how the American military came to use private contractors like Diveroli, Packouz, and Podrizki as middlemen to secure weapons from illegal arms dealers—the same men who sell guns to dictators, warlords, and drug traffickers.

This is a story you were never meant to read.
Space has been militarized for over four decades. Should it now be weaponized? This incisive and insightful book argues that it should not. Since the cold war, space has come to harbor many tools of the tactical warfighter. Satellites have long been used to provide strategic communication, early warning of missile launch, and arms control verification. The U.S. armed forces increasingly use space assets to locate and strike targets on the battlefield. To date, though, no country deploys destructive weapons in space, for use against space or Earth targets, and no country possesses ground-based weapons designed explicitly to damage objects in space. The line between nonweaponization and weaponization is blurry, to be sure—but it has not yet been crossed. In Ne ither Star Wars nor Sanctuary, Michael E. O'Hanlon makes a forceful case for keeping it this way. The United States, with military space budgets of around $20 billion a year, enjoys a remarkably favorable military advantage in space. Pursuing a policy of space weaponization solely in order to maximize its own military capabilities would needlessly jeopardize this situation by likely hastening development of space weapons in numerous countries. It would also reaffirm the prevalent international image of the United States as a global cowboy of sorts, too quick to reach for the gun. O'Hanlon therefore asserts that U.S. military space policy should focus on delaying any movement toward weaponization, without foreclosing the option of developing space weapons in the future, if necessary. Extreme positions that would either hasten to weaponize space or permanently rule this out are not consistent with technological realities and U.S. security interests.
In this new Brookings Marshall Paper, Michael O’Hanlon argues that now is the time for Western nations to negotiate a new security architecture for neutral countries in eastern Europe to stabilize the region and reduce the risks of war with Russia. He believes NATO expansion has gone far enough. The core concept of this new security architecture would be one of permanent neutrality. The countries in question collectively make a broken-up arc, from Europe’s far north to its south: Finland and Sweden; Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus; Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan; and finally Cyprus plus Serbia, as well as possibly several other Balkan states. Discussion on the new framework should begin within NATO, followed by deliberation with the neutral countries themselves, and then formal negotiations with Russia.

The new security architecture would require that Russia, like NATO, commit to help uphold the security of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other states in the region. Russia would have to withdraw its troops from those countries in a verifiable manner; after that, corresponding sanctions on Russia would be lifted. The neutral countries would retain their rights to participate in multilateral security operations on a scale comparable to what has been the case in the past, including even those operations that might be led by NATO. They could think of and describe themselves as Western states (or anything else, for that matter). If the European Union and they so wished in the future, they could join the EU. They would have complete sovereignty and self-determination in every sense of the word. But NATO would decide not to invite them into the alliance as members. Ideally, these nations would endorse and promote this concept themselves as a more practical way to ensure their security than the current situation or any other plausible alternative.

After eleven weeks of bombing in the spring of 1999, the United States and NATO ultimately won the war in Kosovo. Serbian troops were forced to withdraw, enabling an international military and political presence to take charge in the region. But was this war inevitable or was it the product of failed western diplomacy prior to the conflict? And once it became necessary to use force, did NATO adopt a sound strategy to achieve its aims of stabilizing Kosovo? In this first in-depth study of the Kosovo crisis, Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon answer these and other questions about the causes, conduct, and consequences of the war. Based on interviews with many of the key participants, they conclude that notwithstanding important diplomatic mistakes before the conflict, it would have been difficult to avoid the Kosovo war. That being the case, U.S. and NATO conduct of the war left much to be desired. For more than four weeks, the Serbs succeeded where NATO failed, forcefully changing Kosovo's ethnic balance by forcing 1.5 million Albanians from their home and more than 800,000 from the country. Had they chosen to massacre more of their victims, NATO would have been powerless to stop them. In the end, NATO won the war by increasing the scope and intensity of bombing, making serious plans for a ground invasion, and moving diplomacy into full gear in order to convince Belgrade that this was a war Serbia would never win. The Kosovo crisis is a cautionary tale for those who believe force can be used easily and in limited increments to stop genocide, mass killing, and the forceful expulsion of entire populations. Daalder and O'Hanlon conclude that the crisis holds important diplomatic and military lessons that must be learned so that others in the future might avoid the mistakes that were made in this case.
After forty years of largely cooperative Sino-U.S. relations, policymakers, politicians, and pundits on both sides of the Pacific see growing tensions between the United States and China. Some go so far as to predict a future of conflict, driven by the inevitable rivalry between an established and a rising power, and urge their leaders to prepare now for a future showdown. Others argue that the deep economic interdependence between the two countries and the many areas of shared interests will lead to more collaborative relations in the coming decades.

In this book, James Steinberg and Michael O'Hanlon stake out a third, less deterministic position. They argue that there are powerful domestic and international factors, especially in the military and security realms, that could well push the bilateral relationship toward an arms race and confrontation, even though both sides will be far worse off if such a future comes to pass. They contend that this pessimistic scenario can be confidently avoided only if China and the United States adopt deliberate policies designed to address the security dilemma that besets the relationship between a rising and an established power. The authors propose a set of policy proposals to achieve a sustainable, relatively cooperative relationship between the two nations, based on the concept of providing mutual strategic reassurance in such key areas as nuclear weapons and missile defense, space and cyber operations, and military basing and deployments, while also demonstrating strategic resolve to protect vital national interests, including, in the case of the United States, its commitments to regional allies.

Space has been militarized for over four decades. Should it now be weaponized? This incisive and insightful book argues that it should not. Since the cold war, space has come to harbor many tools of the tactical warfighter. Satellites have long been used to provide strategic communication, early warning of missile launch, and arms control verification. The U.S. armed forces increasingly use space assets to locate and strike targets on the battlefield. To date, though, no country deploys destructive weapons in space, for use against space or Earth targets, and no country possesses ground-based weapons designed explicitly to damage objects in space. The line between nonweaponization and weaponization is blurry, to be sure—but it has not yet been crossed. In Ne ither Star Wars nor Sanctuary, Michael E. O'Hanlon makes a forceful case for keeping it this way. The United States, with military space budgets of around $20 billion a year, enjoys a remarkably favorable military advantage in space. Pursuing a policy of space weaponization solely in order to maximize its own military capabilities would needlessly jeopardize this situation by likely hastening development of space weapons in numerous countries. It would also reaffirm the prevalent international image of the United States as a global cowboy of sorts, too quick to reach for the gun. O'Hanlon therefore asserts that U.S. military space policy should focus on delaying any movement toward weaponization, without foreclosing the option of developing space weapons in the future, if necessary. Extreme positions that would either hasten to weaponize space or permanently rule this out are not consistent with technological realities and U.S. security interests.
Humanitarian military intervention and muscular peace operations have been partially effective in recent years in saving thousands of lives from the Balkans to Haiti to Somalia to Cambodia to Mozambique. However, success has often been mitigated by the international community's unwillingness or inability to quickly send enough forces capable of dealing with a situation decisively. In other cases, the international community has essentially stood aside as massive but possibly preventable humanitarian tragedies took place — for instance, in Angola and Rwanda in the mid-1990s and in Congo as this book goes to press. Sometimes these failures have simply been the result of an insufficient pool of available military and police forces to conduct the needed intervention or stabilization missions. In this timely new book, Michael O'Hanlon presents a blueprint for developing sufficient global intervention capacity to save many more lives with force. He contends, at least for now, that individual countries rather than the United Nations should develop the aggregate capacity to address several crises of varying scale and severity, and that many more countries should share in the effort. The United States' role is twofold: it must make slight redesigns to its own military and, even more important, encourage other nations to join it in this type of intervention, including training and support of troops in countries, such as those in Africa, that are willing to take the necessary steps to prevent humanitarian disaster but lack the resources.
Arms control, for decades at the core of the foreign policy consensus, today is among the more contentious issues in American politics. It is pilloried and considered out of mode in many conservative quarters, while being viewed as nearly sacrosanct in many liberal circles. In this new book, Michael Levi and Michael O'Hanlon argue that neither the left nor the right has a correct view of the proper utility of arms control in the age of terror. Arms control in the traditional sense--lengthy treaties to limit nuclear and other military competitions among the great powers--is no longer particularly useful. Nor should arms control be pursued as a means to the end of constraining the power of nations or of promoting global government. It is still a critical tool, though, for controlling dangerous technologies, particularly those that, in the hands of hostile states or terrorist organizations, could cause massive death and destruction. Arms control and coercive action, including military force, must be integrated into an overall strategy for preventing proliferation, now more than ever before. Arms control should be used to gain earlier warning of illicit activities inside dangerous states, allowing the international community to take coercive action in a timely way. The authors propose three new criteria to guide future arms control efforts, designed to respond to today's geopolitical realities. Arms control must focus on the dangers of catastrophic technology, not so much in the hands of major powers as of small states and terrorist groups. Their criteria lead to a natural focus on nuclear and biological technologies. Much tougher measures to prevent countries from gaining nuclear weapons technoloty while purportedly complying with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and procedures for controlling dangerous biological technologies will be most prominent in this framework, while lower priority is giben to efforts such as bilateral nuclear accords and most types of arms control for outer space. This book provides a framework for an effective arms control strategy in a new age of international security.
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