China’s entry into military superpower status posed a more general question: What will happen to the balance of power if more countries enter the arms race? Chapter 4 showed that when a third party entered into the cold war the balance of power became more precarious. In general, three or more elements in any interactive system constitute an entirely different world from two because the indirect effects such as alliances echo back on the direct relationships and can overwhelm them.
What of the Intriligator-Brito cone of deterrence? Could it be the case, as they contended, that the addition of more countries to the nuclear club would actually stabilize the system? This chapter reaffirms the general principle by showing that when there are three or more military power centers, the existence of such a zone becomes increasingly implausible. It follows that deterrence is an expedient that is not likely to remain even as effective in a multi-polar world as it was in the days of hegemony by the US and USSR. The chapter is an extract from an 1987 article in Public Choice, “A Theorem on the Existence of Zones of Initiation and Deterrence in Intriligator-Brito Arms Race Models” [Wolfson, 1987a].
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