The spread of nuclear weapons according to Kenneth Waltz.pdf

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Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,” Adelphi Papers, Number 171 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981) INTRODUCTION What will the spread of nuclear weapons do to the world? I say ‘spread rather than proliferation’ because so far nuclear weapons have proliferated only vertically as the major nuclear powers have added to their arsenals. Horizontally, they have spread slowly across countries, and the pace is not likely to change much. Short-term
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  Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,”  Adelphi Papers , Number 11 ! ondon: #nternat$onal #nst$tute for Strate%$c Stud$es, 1&'1( #NT)*+-T#*N  What will the spread of nuclear weapons do to the world? I say ‘spread rather than proliferation’  because so far nuclear weapons have proliferated only vertically as the major nuclear powers have added to their arsenals. Horizontally, they have spread slowly across countries, and the pace is not liely to chan!e much. hort#term candidates for the nuclear club are not very numerous. and they are not liely to rush into the nuclear military business. $uclear weapons will nevertheless spread, with a new member occasionally joinin! the club. %ountin! India and Israel, membership !rew to seven in the first &' years of the nuclear a!e. ( doublin! of membership in this decade would be surprisin!. ince rapid chan!es in international conditions can be unsettlin!, the slowness of the spread of nuclear weapons is fortunate.  omeday the world will be populated by ten or twelve or ei!hteen nuclear#weapon states )hereafter referred to as nuclear states*. What the further spread of nuclear weapons will do to the world is therefore a compellin! +uestion. ost people believe that the world will become a more dan!erous one as nuclear weapons spread. -he chances that nuclear weapons will be fired in an!er or accidentally eploded in a way that  prompts a nuclear echan!e are finite, thou!h unnown. -hose chances increase as the number of nuclear states increase. ore is therefore worse. ost people also believe that the chances that nuclear weapons will be used vary with the character of the new nuclear states/their sense of responsibility, inclination toward devotion to the  status quo,  political and administrative competence. If the supply of states of !ood character is limited as is widely thou!ht, then the lar!er the number of nuclear states, the !reater the chances of nuclear war become. If nuclear weapons are ac+uired by countries whose !overnments totter and fre+uently fall, should we not worry more about the world’s destruction then we do now? (nd if nuclear weapons are ac+uired by two states that are traditional and bitter rivals, should that not also foster our concern? 0redictions on !rounds such as the above point less to lielihoods and more to dan!ers that we can all ima!ine. -hey identify some possibilities amon! many, and identifyin! more of the possibilities would not enable one to say how they are liely to unfold in a world made different by the slow spread of nuclear weapons. We want to now both the lielihood that new dan!ers will manifest themselves and what the possibilities of their miti!ation may be. We want to be able to see the future world, so to spea, rather than merely ima!inin! ways in which it may be a better or a worse one. How can we predict more surely? In two ways1 by deducin! epectations from the structure of the international political system and by inferrin! epectations from past events and patterns. With those two tass accomplished in the first part of this paper, I shall as in the second part whether increases in the number of nuclear states will introduce differences that are dan!erous and destabilizin!.   #. +/T/))/N-/ #N 0 B#* 0) W*) +  -he world has enjoyed more years of peace since 234' than had been nown in this century/if  peace is defined as the absence of !eneral war amon! the major states of the world. -he econd World War followed the first one within twenty#one years. (s of 2356 &' years had elapsed since the (llies’ victory over the (is powers. %onflict mars all human affairs. In the past third of a century, conflict has !enerated hostility amon! states and has at times issued in violence amon! the weaer and smaller ones. 7ven thou!h the more powerful states of the world have occasionally  been direct participants, war has been confined !eo!raphically and limited militarily. 8emarably, !eneral war has been avoided in a period of rapid and far#reachin! chan!es/decolonization9 the rapid economic !rowth of some states9 the formation. ti!htenin!, and eventual loosenin! of blocs9 the development of new technolo!ies9 and the emer!ence of new strate!ies for fi!htin! !uerrilla wars and deterrin! nuclear ones. -he prevalence of peace, to!ether with the fi!htin! of circumscribed wars, indicates a hi!h ability of the post#war international system to absorb chan!es and to contain conflicts and hostility. 0resumably features found in the post#war system that were not present earlier account for the world:s recent !ood fortune. -he bi!!est chan!es in the post#war world are the shift from multipolarity to bipolarity and the introduction of nuclear weapons.  The /ffects of B$polar$ty  ;ipolarity has produced two outstandin!ly !ood effects. -hey are seen by contrastin! multipolar and bipolar worlds. <irst, in a multipolar world there are too many powers to permit any of them to draw clear and fied lines between allies and adversaries and too few to eep the effects of defection low. With three or more powers, fleibility of alliances eeps relations of friendship and enmity fluid and maes everyone:s estimate of the present and future relation of forces uncertain. = lon! as the system is one of fairly small numbers, the actions of any of them may threaten the secur#ity of others. -here are too many to enable anyone to see for sure what is happenin!. and too few to mae what is happenin! a matter of indifference. In a bipolar world, the two !reat powers depend militarily mainly on themselves. -his is almost entirely true at the strate!ic nuclear level, lar!ely true at the tactical nuclear level, and partly true at the conventional level. In 23>5, for eample, the oviet nion:s military ependitures were over 36@ of the total for the Warsaw -reaty Ar!anization, and those of the nited tates were about =6@ of the total for $(-A . With a B$0 &6@ as lar!e as ours, West Bermany:s ependitures were 22.'@ of the $(-A total, and that is the second lar!est national contribution. $ot only do we carry the main military burden within the alliance because of our disproportionate resources but also  because we contribute disproportionately from those resources. In fact if not in form, $(-A consists of !uarantees !iven by the nited tates to her 7uropean allies and to %anada. -he nited tates, with a preponderence of nuclear weapons and as many men in uniform as the West 7uropean states combined, may be able to protect them9 they cannot protect her. ;ecause of the vast differences in the capabilities of member states, the rou!hly e+ual sharin! of  burdens found in earlier alliance systems is no lon!er possible. -he nited tates and the oviet nion balance each other by ‘internal’ instead of ‘eternal’ means, relyin! on their own capabilities more than on the capabilities of allies. Internal balancin! is more reliable and precise than eternal   balancin!. tates are less liely to misjud!e their relative stren!ths than they are to misjud!e the stren!th and reliability of opposin! coalitions. 8ather than main! states properly cautious and for#wardin! the chances of peace, uncertainty and miscalculation cause wars. In a bipolar world, uncertainty lessens and calculations are easier to mae. -he military mi!ht of both !reat powers maes +uic and easy con+uest impossible for either, and this is clearly seen. -o respond rapidly to fine chan!es in the military balance is at once less important and more easily done.  econd, in the !reat#power politics of a multipolar world, who is a dan!er to whom. and who can be epected to deal with threats and problems, are matters of uncertainty. Can!ers are diffused, responsibilities blurred, and definitions of vital interest easily obscured. ;ecause who is a dan!er to whom is often unclear, the incentive to re!ard all dise+uilibratin! chan!es with concern and respond to them with whatever effort may be re+uired is weaened. -o respond rapidly to fine chan!es is at once more difficult, because of blurred responsibilities, and more important, because states live on narrow mar!ins. Interdependence of parties, diffusion of dan!ers, confusion of responses1 -hese are the characteristics of !reat#power politics in a multi polar world. In the !reat#power politics of a bipolar world, who is a dan!er to whom is never in doubt. oreover, with only two powers capable of actin! on a world scale, anythin! that happens anywhere is potentially of concern to both of them. %han!es may affect each of the two powers differently, and this means all the more that few chan!es in the world at lar!e or within each other:s national realm are liely to be thou!ht irrelevant. elf#dependence of parties, clarity of dan!ers, certainty about who has to face them1 -hese are characteristics of !reat#power politics in a bipolar world. ;ecause responsibility is clearly fied, and because relative power is easier to estimate. a  bipolar world tends to be more peaceful than a multipolar world. Will the spread of nuclear weapons complicate international life by turnin! the bipolar world into a multipolar one? -he bipolar system has lasted more than three decades because no third state has developed capabilities comparable to those of the nited tates and the oviet nion. -he nited tates produces about a +uarter of the world:s !oods, and the oviet nion about half as much. nless 7urope unites, the nited tates will remain economically well ahead of other states. (nd althou!h Dapan:s B$0 is fast approachin! the oviet nion:s, Dapan is not able to compete militarily with the super#powers. ( state becomes a !reat power not by military or economic capability alone  but by combinin! political, social, economic, military, and !eo!raphic assets in more effective ways than other states can. In the old days weaer powers could improve their positions throu!h alliance by addin! the stren!th of forei!n armies to their own. %annot some of the middle states do to!ether what they are unable to do alone? <or two decisive reasons, the answer is ‘no’. <irst, nuclear forces do not add up. -he technolo!y of warheads, of delivery vehicles, of detection and surveillance devices, of command and control systems, count more than the size of forces. %ombinin! separate national forces is not much help. econd, to reach top technolo!ical levels would re+uire lull collaboration by, say, several 7uropean states. -o achieve this has proved politically impossible. (s de Baulle often said, nuclear weapons mae alliances obsolete. (t the strate!ic level he was ri!ht.  tates fear dividin! their strate!ic labours fully/from research and development throu!h  production, plannin!, and deployment. -his is less because one of them mi!ht in the future be at war with another, and more because anyone:s decision to use the weapons a!ainst third parties mi!ht be fatal to all of them. Cecisions to use nuclear weapons may be decisions to commit suicide.  Anly a national authority can be entrusted with the decision, a!ain as de Baulle always claimed. Anly by mer!in! and losin! their political identities can middle states become !reat powers. -he non#additivity of nuclear forces means that in our bipolar world efforts of lesser states cannot tilt the strate!ic balance. Breat powers are stron! not simply because they have nuclear weapons but also because their immense resources enable them to !enerate and maintain power of all types. military and other, at strate!ic and tactical levels. 7nterin! the !reat#power club was easier when !reat powers were lar!er in number and smaller in size. With fewer and bi!!er ones, barriers to entry have risen. -he club will lon! remain the world:s most eclusive one. We need not fear that the spread of nuclear weapons will turn the world into a multipolar one.  The /ffects of Nuclear Weapons   $uclear weapons have been the second force worin! for peace in the post#war world. -hey mae the cost of war seem fri!htenin!ly hi!h and thus discoura!e states from startin! any wars that mi!ht lead to the use of such weapons. $uclear weapons have helped maintain peace between the !reat  powers and have not led their few other possessors into military adventures. ' -heir further spread, however, causes widespread fear. uch of the writin! about the spread of nuclear weapons has this unusual trait1 It tells us that what did no, happen in the past is liely to happen in the future, that tomorrow:s nuclear states are liely to do to one another what today:s nuclear states have not done. ( happy nuclear past leads many to epect an unhappy nuclear future. -his is odd, and the oddity leads me to believe that we should reconsider how weapons affect the situation of their possessors.  The Military Logic of Self-Help Systems   tates coeist in a condition of anarchy. elf#help is the principle of action in an anarchic order, and the most important way in which states must help themselves is by providin! for their own security. -herefore, in wei!hin! the chances for peace, the first +uestions to as are +uestions about the ends for which states use force and about the strate!ies and weapons they employ. -he chances of peace rise if states can achieve their most important ends without actively usin! force. War becomes less liely as the costs of war rise in relation to possible !ains. trate!ies brin! ends and means to!ether. How nuclear weapons affect the chances for peace is seen by considerin! the possible strate!ies of states. <orce may be used for offence, for defence, for deterrence, and for coercion. %onsider offence first. Bermany and <rance before World War 2 provide a classic case of two adversaries each ne!lectin! its defence and both plannin! to launch major attacs at the outset of war. <rance favoured offence over defence, because only by fi!htin! an offensive war could (lsace#Eorraine be reclaimed. -his illustrates one purpose of the offence1 namely, con+uest. Bermany favoured offence over defence.  believin! offence to be the best defence, or even the only defence possible. Hemmed in by two adversaries. she could avoid fi!htin! a two#front war only by concentratin! her forces in the West and defeatin! <rance before 8ussia could mobilize and move effectively into battle. -his is what the chlieffen plan called for. -he 0lan illustrates another purpose of the offence1 namely, security. 7ven if security had been Bermany:s only !oal, an offensive strate!y seemed to be the way to obtain it.
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