Away from Nuclear Mythology
The chapter by Kenneth Waltz1 is courageous, stimulating, and utterly wrongheaded. I sincerely admire several aspects of the chapter. It addresses the security issues that are central to the political decisions states make to acquire or abstain from acquiring nuclear weapons. That is, it takes seriously security and other political motivations and thus avoids the common fallacy of imagining that nuclear acquisitions can be affected primarily by manipulating technical conditions of access to nuclear material or know-how. It is forthright about asking what happens if, or when, the nonproliferation regime substantially fails. That is, unlike much of the earlier writing on this topic, it leaves us with some hope and some direction for policy in the event of failure. Finally, it is courageous in taking an unpopular position. It argues forthrightly, developing a line of reasoning that, until recently at least, has risked ostracism for its proponent.2 Waltz’s readiness to dare opprobrium by challenging conventional wisdom deserves respect at the same time that it deserves vigorous rebuttal. I want to move to that rebuttal, but in the context of a real appreciation for what the author has done and risked.
KeywordsExpected Utility Nuclear Weapon Global Community Downside Risk Probable Gain
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