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Title: Deterrence revalidated : an investigation of the practice and application of deterrence in the post-Cold War world
Author: Graham, Cheryl M.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2010
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The end of the Cold War was briefly followed by many indications and hopes that the salience of nuclear weapons in national security strategies was in decline. However, there was soon a growing realisation in policy-making and academic circles that although the Soviet Union had disintegrated, the nuclear threat had not gone away. During this period the concepts of a ‘Second Nuclear Age' and ‘New Terrorism' entered the rhetoric of the academic and policy-making strategic community. Central themes of both of these concepts were that nuclear issues persisted in the post-Cold War world, albeit in a new format, and that reliance on nuclear deterrence as a means of maintaining peace was increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective. The orthodox negative hypotheses regarding (i) the continuing reliability of nuclear deterrence, and (ii) the management and deterrence of the threat of nuclear terrorism, can be challenged on a number of levels. Despite frequent claims to the contrary, nuclear deterrence has never been viewed as infallible and, since the 1949 Soviet atomic test, policymakers and strategic thinkers have consistently refined deterrence strategies to ensure their relevance with regards to evolving threats. Furthermore, closer examination of the various historical tensions from the first nuclear age demonstrates that the challenges of the second nuclear age, at both the state and non-state level, are not necessarily as unique as many analysts assumed. Examination of contemporary nuclear-related issues, not least the implications of horizontal nuclear proliferation, and a comparison against the Cold War historical record indicates that the concepts of the ‘Second Nuclear Age' and ‘New Terrorism' can be found wanting when measured against empirical evidence. Defence of, and over-reliance on these artificial intellectual constructs could result in a number of negative political consequences. Those stressing the uniqueness of the post-Cold War strategic environment also encourage policymakers to view the turbulence of current affairs as posing unique challenges that require entirely new approaches and modes of thinking. In doing so they are likely to iii underestimate the value and relevance of many similar Cold War experiences and lessons; the most important lesson being the enduring importance of nuclear weapons and the concomitant deterrence strategies designed to inhibit their physical use while fully utilising their physical presence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Deterrence (Strategy)