The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate

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9780393038101: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate

If the build-up of nuclear weapons was a significant factor in maintaining the "long peace" between the United States and the Soviet Union, will the spread of nuclear weapons beyond these two superpowers stabilize or disrupt international relations. In this book, two scholars of international politics debate the issue. Kenneth Waltz argues that fear of the spread of nuclear weapons is unfounded - "more may be better". Nuclear proliferation may be a stabilizing force, as it decreases the likelihood of war by increasing its costs. Scott Sagan, however, argues that nuclear proliferation will make the world less stable - "more will be worse". Nuclear-armed states may not possess the internal structures that would ensure safe and rational control of nuclear weapons. Written for a general audience, this book is intended to help the public understand more clearly the role of nuclear weapons in the new world order.

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From Booklist:

Are more states with nuclear weapons conducive to international stability? Waltz says yes, Sagan no, and they take up the cudgels of their positions in this exceptionally clear distillation of the parameters of proliferation. Sagan concedes that Waltz's rationalist arguments in favor of Pax Atomica have been more coherent than the "Just Say No" school of thought he expresses. But confidence in the rationality and caution of bomb owners, Sagan insists, is undermined by the vulnerability of infant stockpiles to preemptive strikes by a nervous neighbor, as nearly happened in May_ 1990 between Pakistan and India. He also sees aspirant governments as politically volatile, militarily dominated, and unable to construct survivable second-strike forces. Waltz rebuts these worries point by point, often with reference to the behavior of the Americans and the Russians. The crux of these political scientists' disagreement is whether even one bomb would deter a potential attacker: Waltz believes it would, Sagan doesn't. Is it worth the risk to let proliferation run on? Libraries can only furnish information on the question. Gilbert Taylor

From Library Journal:

Sagan and Waltz, from Stanford and Berkeley, respectively, present a short, intellectual exchange on an often covered topic. Waltz, the optimist, argues that because nuclear weapons "will nevertheless spread," the end result will be stabilizing. His main point is that "nuclear weapons make wars hard to start" and that even radical states will act like rational ones because of the mutually deterrent effort of nuclear weapons. Sagan, the pessimist, fears the worst because of "inherent limits in organizational reliability." The parochial interests of professional military leaders in emerging nuclear states, who will tend to see war as "inevitable" and skeptically view any nonmilitary alternatives, will lead to deterrence failures or accidental war. In addition, Sagan argues these states will probably lack "positive mechanisms of civilian control" to restrain militant tendencies. Waltz and Sagan also offer short essays recapping the main points. For such a short book, there is much to ponder here.?John Yurechko, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Sagan, Scott Douglas, Waltz, Kenneth N.
Published by W W Norton & Co Inc (1995)
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Sagan, Scott Douglas; Waltz, Kenneth N.
Published by W W Norton & Co Inc
ISBN 10: 0393038106 ISBN 13: 9780393038101
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