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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Books of Note
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Strategy in the Second Nuclear Age:Power, Ambition, and the Ultimate Weapon

Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes, eds., Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C., 2012, 256 pp.

Serena Kelleher-Vergantini

In their introduction to this collection of essays, editors Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes say a “second nuclear age” began with the entry of new countries into the nuclear circle established by the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China. A main focus of the book is the strategic calculus of past, current, and prospective nuclear-armed states beyond the original five. The book utilizes a broad concept of strategy that combines assessments of hardware and manpower with analyses of nuclear aspirants’ motives and strategic thinking. By exploring the political and military use or nonuse of nuclear technology, the book attempts to foresee how new nuclear-weapon states will interact with one another and how the “gatekeepers” of the first nuclear age will contend with “gatecrashers” from the second. In their respective chapters on India and Pakistan, Andrew C. Winner and Timothy Hoyt provide an example of the book’s analysis of the interaction of second-age nuclear powers. While Winner attempts to identify the impact that India’s nuclear modernization, specifically, its prospects for an undersea deterrent, will have on the nuclear practices of its rivals, Hoyt analyzes the threats the Pakistani arsenal poses for regional harmony. With reference to the interaction between China and the United States, Christopher T. Yeaw, Andrew S. Erickson, and Michael S. Chase argue that China’s military modernization implies a transition from a “minimum deterrence” to an “effective deterrence” doctrine and may not necessarily translate into a stable U.S.-Chinese strategic relationship. They cite Chinese writings about signaling and escalation control as an indication that Beijing’s crisis behavior could foster miscalculations and lead to an unstable relationship.

 


 

 

A Nuclear Weapons-Free World? Britain, Trident and the Challenges Ahead

Nick Ritchie, Global Issues Series,Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 251 pp.

Marcus Taylor

In this book, Nick Ritchie, a lecturer at the University of York in the United Kingdom, tackles the British intent to extend its policy of continuous-at-sea deterrence—the presence of one nuclear-armed submarine on global patrol at all times—and the seemingly contradictory goal of total disarmament. Since 1998, the British nuclear arsenal has been made up entirely of submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Now, however, the United Kingdom is debating whether to replace the Trident system with an upgraded version. According to Ritchie, there are multiple factors behind domestic support for a Trident replacement, including the United Kingdom’s identity as a nuclear power and the domestic submarine manufacturing industry. At the same time, he says, countervailing forces, such as reductions in the defense budget and a general reassessment of whether a continuous at-sea deterrent is necessary, are causing many in London to question the need for replacing a system that has such limited utility. Ritchie argues that the “strategic, political, and economic case for renewing Trident is already far from robust” and advocates a reassessment of the need for continuous at-sea deterrence and a reconceptualization of how many deployed warheads constitute a minimum deterrent.