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Building Peace under the Nuclear Sword of Damocles

  • Eckhard Lübkemeier
Part of the Issues in International Security book series (IIS)

Abstract

Mankind cannot unlearn the nuclear secret. Nor is there hope that a grandiose technical scheme, à la President Ronald Reagan’s vision of an impenetrable Strategic Defense Initiative peace shield, will make it possible to emasculate nuclear weapons. Only a true peace can render them obsolete and ineffective, that is, a situation in which nonviolent mechanisms of conflict management have become the universally accepted norm. In such a peace community, war between member states is inconceivable; consequently, the only justification for maintaining armed forces is protection from threats originating outside the community.1 Today the relationship between North America and its European allies meets the requirements of a peace community. The United States, Great Britain, and France deploy nuclear weapons, but mutual confidence among them has reached such a level that their nuclear arsenals are designed to deter outsiders and not to protect them from each other.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Exchange Nuclear Deterrence Deterrence Strategy Nuclear Arsenal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    The concept of a peace community is identical with the notion of a security community as developed by Deutsch et al. in the mid-1950s. See Karl W. Deutsch et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), chap. 1.Google Scholar
  2. 1a.
    For the concept of a peace community see Eckhard Lübkemeier, “Security and Peace in Post-Cold War Europe,” in Armand Clesse and Lothar Rühl, eds., Beyond East-West Confrontation: Searching for a New Security Structure in Europe (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 1990), pp. 183–201.Google Scholar
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    Some may reject the continued use of the term “deterrence” as reflecting “old” thinking in the post-Cold War world. Indeed, in the East-West context deterrence needs to be adapted to fundamentally changed circumstances. Such an attempt is made in this chapter. Nuclear deterrence, however, is a state of affairs as long as nuclear weapons have not been rendered politically impotent and obsolete. Even in the new East-West context, such a stable peace will take a long time to mature. In the intermediate period of controlled mutual disarmament, nuclear weapons retain a residual deterrent quality.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    This has been termed the “‘usability paradox’: Nuclear weapons can prevent aggression only if there is a possibility that they will be used, but we do not want to make them so usable that anyone is temped to use one.” The Harvard Nuclear Study Group, Living with Nuclear Weapons (New York: Bantam Books, 1983), p. 34.Google Scholar
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  41. 29.
    Thus, then-Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger suggested that “if we were to maintain continued communications with the Soviet leaders during the war, and if we were to describe precisely and meticulously the limited nature of our actions, including the desire to avoid attacking their urban industrial base, then in spite of whatever one says historically in advance that everything must go all out, when the existential circumstances arise, political leaders on both sides will be under powerful pressure to continue to be sensible.” Quoted in Lynn Etheridge Davis, Limited Nuclear Options: Deterrence and the New American Doctrine, Adelphi Papers no. 121 (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1975), p. 7.Google Scholar
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    This distinction between negative and positive control draws on John D. Steinbruner, “Choices and Trade-offs,” in Ashton B. Carter et al., eds., Managing Nuclear Operations (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1987), p. 539.Google Scholar
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    A U.S. Navy spokesman has confirmed that there is no technological safeguard against an unauthorized launch of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. In his words, negative control is exercised procedurally: “There is a requirement that multiple people on board that ship, essentially the entire crew, must execute their responsibilities once a valid launch order has been received from the President before those missiles could or would be launched.” (U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Armed Services, 99th Cong., 1st sess., Hearings, Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1986, Part 7 (Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), p. 3855.Google Scholar
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    Bracken, The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces, p. 168; see also Bruce G. Blair, “Alerting in Crisis and Conventional War,” in Carter et al., eds., Managing Nuclear Operations, p. 113. Kelleher, however, maintains that “the risk involved in tying release authority and the transmission of PAL codes to a decision to disperse is, and will remain, politically unacceptable.” Catherine McArdle Kelleher, “Managing NATO’s Tactical Nuclear Operations,” Survival 30 (January/February 1988), p. 76.Google Scholar
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    In Clausewitz’s words: “War is a clash between major interests, which is resolved by bloodshed—that is the only way in which it differs from other conflicts.” On War, p. 149.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 579.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eckhard Lübkemeier
    • 1
  1. 1.Friedrich Ebert Stiftung ForschungsinstitutBonnGermany

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