Nuclear First Strike: Consequences of a Broken Taboo
By George H. Quester, The John Hopkins University Press, February 2006, 155 pp.
In a detailed analysis, George H. Quester explores what might happen if nuclear weapons were used for the first time since World War II. Rather than assess the physical destruction of a nuclear attack, he examines the likely political and social consequences. Quester begins by outlining several scenarios under which nuclear weapons might be used and focuses on the ways the world might react to each. While doing so, he warns that breaking the so-called nuclear taboo by using nuclear weapons could have two very different outcomes. In one case, Quester says that it might shock the world into pursuing disarmament. In another, however, he argues that the sudden use of a nuclear weapon would create extraordinary tension and provoke a new wave of proliferation. In the final chapters, Quester suggests appropriate U.S. policy responses to restore peace after a nuclear strike and to reinvigorate the nuclear taboo under these circumstances.
Impossible Allies: Nuclear India, United States and the Global Order
By C. Raja Mohan, India Research Press, May 2006, 311 pp.
From the perspective of an Indian journalist and academic, C. Raja Mohan offers a comprehensive overview of Indo-U.S. relations during the presidency of George W. Bush, emphasizing the importance of the July 2005 civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. An optimist about the agreement and India’s rise in the world, Mohan views the agreement as the capstone of India’s efforts to further its strategic partnership with the United States and build a greater leadership position. Outlining arguments both in support of and against the agreement, Mohan generally backs the accord but offers some caveats, such as seconding Indian demands that the agreement not limit India’s ability to produce fissile material for weapons. At the same time, however, he dismisses arguments that the deal will increase nuclear proliferation. He restates Bush administration arguments that India is a responsible nuclear state that does not proliferate to other countries. In addition, he rejects the notion that India’s planned series of fast-breeder reactors, ideally suited to produce plutonium, are a proliferation danger.
Negotiating Minefields: The Landmines Ban in American Politics
By Leon V. Sigal, Routledge, March 2006, 294 pp.
Former Department of State official Leon V. Sigal provides a historical and detailed view of what he terms the David-and-Goliath struggle between the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the U.S. military. He examines how the campaign was successful in convincing more than 150 nations to sign the Ottawa convention banning the use and production of anti-personnel landmines yet was ultimately unsuccessful in winning over the Pentagon. Sigal describes how the White House and U.S. military, facing intense pressure from the international community and numerous nongovernmental organizations, were forced to decide either to abandon the use of landmines on the Korean Peninsula or else convince other nations to exempt their use in Korea’s demilitarized zone. Although some military insiders, including Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that landmines were not critical for future military operations, President Bill Clinton made an eleventh hour decision not to take the political risk to sign it.
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