Strategic Posture Review: China (World Politics Review Strategic Posture Reviews)

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Lauren Weiner : Many of the defense intellectuals studying, teaching, and writing in this area treat nuclear weapons and strategy as distinct from conventional military weapons and strategy. Why is it a good idea to, as your book proposes, get rid of this distinction? Few would argue that one or two tanks is enough if your enemy has dozens.

My thought was, if this is correct, we have a puzzle: the United States maintains a robust nuclear posture, including thousands of nuclear warheads and missile defenses, and has always pursued nuclear advantages over enemies. Faced with this obvious gap between their theory and actual practice, previous scholars insisted that the theory was right and U.

In contrast, my book explains the logic of American nuclear strategy. The United States did, for example, withdraw forward-deployed nuclear weapons from South Korea in the s.

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What would be the effect or effects of continuing in that direction? MK: U. They underwrite international peace and security. Many other countries, like China, use nuclear weapons to defend themselves, but the United States uses its nuclear weapons to defend the entire free world. This has provided geopolitical stability to the most important regions around the globe and persuaded other countries not to build their own nuclear weapons because they can rely on Washington.

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Defending the entire free world, however, requires a robust nuclear posture. If the United States were to drastically cut its nuclear arsenal, or otherwise weaken its deterrence posture, there could be dangerous consequences. Nuclear-armed rivals, like Russia, China, and North Korea, could be more likely to challenge us and our allies, potentially sparking dangerous nuclear crises.

Moreover, our allies might decide that they can no longer count on us for their security. Japan, South Korea, Poland, and other countries might decide to build their own nuclear weapons, leading to a cascade of proliferation in Europe and Asia.


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MK: For decades, scholars have conceptualized nuclear deterrence as a game of chicken. But they also want to convince their adversary to swerve first when serious conflicts of interest arise.

Superiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory is a mouthful, but the logic is quite simple. In a game of chicken, we might expect the smaller car to swerve first even if a crash is bad for both.

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But the emerging era does not match the patterns of the past. Great-power competition reflected a reality that many see as perennial in world politics: the leading powers of any era tend to view one another in suspicious, hostile, and sometimes apocalyptic terms and to compete bitterly for power, influence, and status. The typical version of the concept describes several specific ways in which collections of great powers interact. For one, great-power competitions create a churning, multipolar structure of world politics in which major powers face a powerful set of potential enemies and constantly shuffle their allegiances.

The classic case is Europe in several.

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