Prolif good – War

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AT Waltz

Waltz’s theory is flawed

Cimbala 8 – Professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University, author of books and articles in professional journals on topics related to national security, he has served as a consultant on arms control to the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, US Department of State, and private defense contractors (Stephen J., The Journal of Slavic Military Studies, “Connecting the Dots: Nuclear Arms Control and Proliferation After Bush and Putin,” vol. 21, issue 2, pg. 259-278, 6/3/2k8, /mr)

U.S. and Russian post-SORT and post-START forces operating under a 1,000 warhead limit can also be linked to a multilateral model of constrained nuclear proliferation. As shown above, it is at least statistically possible, although politically open ended, to construct a manageable and deterrent-stable multipolar nuclear power system. The long term stability of such a system depends on political intentions as much, or more, than the distribution of military capabilities. Kenneth Waltz was more shocking than revolutionary in his arguments for “more is better” with respect to nuclear weapons spread. His thinking stands squarely in the tradition of political realism and nuclear deterrence strategy. 18 18Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate (New York: W. W. Norton, 1995). This study predates the spike in interest in nuclear terrorism after 9–11. For that topic, see Graham Allison, Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (New York: Henry Holt and Co.—Times Books, 2004). View all notes The problem with this logic is that it takes only a single nuclear armed state, reasoning “outside the box” of Western realism and deterrence theory, to disrupt the system. 19

Waltz’s rational deterrence theory fails

Richard Maass, PhD candidate whose primary research interests concern international security, IR theory, US foreign policy, and qualitative and mixed-method research, Spring 2010 (“Nuclear Proliferation and Declining U.S. Hegemony,” Hamilton College, Accessed online at, Accessed on 7/19/11)

Despite nuclear proliferation’s controversial nature, states continue to develop the technologies requisite for constructing nuclear weapons. What motivates men to create “the most terrifying weapons ever created by human kind…unique in their destructive power and in their lack of direct military utility”(Cirincione, 2007, pg. 47)? Why then do states pursue the controversial and costly path of proliferation? To states, nuclear weapons comprise a symbolic asset of strength and “as a prerequisite for great power status” (Cirincione, 2007, pg. 47). On a simplistic level, nuclear weapons make states feel more powerful, respected and influential in world politics. When it is in their best interest, states develop nuclear capabilities to ensure their own sovereignty and to potentially deter other states from attacking. According to realist thinkers, nuclear weapons provide the “ultimate security guarantor” in an anarchic international system (Cirincione, 2007, pg. 51). Proliferation optimists and rational deterrence theorists, such as Kenneth Waltz, argue proliferation stabilizes international security and promotes peace. Rational deterrence theory states that nations refrain from nuclear conflict because of the extraordinarily high cost. Arguably the most powerful military technology ever developed by man, nuclear weapons have only twice been deployed in actual conflict, due to the devastation they incur. Nuclear weapons increase the potential damage of any given military conflict due to their immense destructive capabilities. Summarizing rational deterrence framework, Waltz asserts “states are deterred by the prospect of suffering severe damage and by their inability to do much to limit it” (Sagan and Waltz, 2003, pg 32). According to the rational deterrence framework, political actors refrain from both conventional and nuclear conflict because of the unacceptably high costs. Ultimately an assumption, rational deterrence theory lacks any empirically tested evidence. Nuclear proliferation exponentially increases the possibility of non-proliferation regime collapse and nuclear conflict, reducing all states’ relative power. Nuclear peace theory seems plausible, but like any mathematical model it may only marginally apply to world politics and the dynamics of nuclear proliferation, due to the fact that “international security is not reducible to the theory of mathematical games” (Bracken, 2002, pg. 403). Rather, the spread of nuclear weapons exponentially decreases the stability of regional and global politics by intensifying regional rivalries and political tensions, both of which may potentially catalyze a nuclear catastrophe. Frustrated with a lack of results through conventional conflict, desperate states may look to nuclear arsenals as a source of absolute resolution for any given conflict. The use of nuclear weapons, even in a limited theater, could plausibly trigger chain reactions rippling across the globe. With their interests and sovereignty threatened, other nuclear states will eventually use their own weapons in an effort to ensure national security. President Kennedy warned of the danger of nuclear proliferation in 1963: I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries…there would be no rest for anyone then, no stability, no real security…there would only be the increased chance of accidental war, and an increased necessity for the great powers to involve themselves in what otherwise would be local conflicts (Cirincione, 2007, pg. 103). Proliferation decreases the relative security of all states not only through the possibility of direct conflict, but also by threatening foreign and domestic interests. As the sole international hegemon, the U.S. seeks to use its power to insure its security and influence international politics in a way that reflects its own interests and values (Huntington, 1993, pg. 70). In addition to creating a direct security threat, further proliferation jeopardizes the United States’ ability to project its primacy and promote its interests internationally.

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