Nuke Proliferation Essay, Research Paper
“I cannot but think . . . that the future growth of Russia . . . is not a little overrated. Without a civilizing of the hordes nominally extending the Russian domination over so many latitudes and longitudes, they will add little to her real force, if they do not detract from it; and in the event of their civilizing, and consequent increase, the overgrown empire, as in so many preceding instances, must fall into separate and independent states”
Former President James Madison had enough clairvoyance, in 1821, to predict the downfall of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991. At that moment, the Soviet Union’s fifteen members became a commonwealth of separate nations; each filled with self-determination to succeed with their newfound autonomy. The dissolve of the Soviet Union effectively ended the cold war and gave the United States the victory, but new problems arose from both Russia and the non-Russian republics. At the same time the United States was thrust from a bipolar international system, into what seemed to be a unipolar one, the new Soviet Republics were thrust into a nightmare of economic breakdown, rampant crime, and even civil war. As Kenneth Waltz says, “In international politics, overwhelming power repels and leads other states to balance against it.” With this quote and the distress of the Soviet Republics in mind, the new hegemony that the United States was experiencing would be short lived. A new crisis emerged from the Soviet Republics that threatened the security of the United States. Robert J. Art argues that one of the main objectives for the United States is to protect the homeland from destruction, and the prime threat to this objective is the spread of nuclear weapons. Because of the poor economic status of the Soviet Republics, they are unable to secure their own nuclear arsenal and stockpiles, which eventually leads to nuclear proliferation.
But does nuclear proliferation really pose such a threat to the security of the United States? It is argued, that because of the harrowing reality of nuclear war, the United States and the Soviet Union have been notably more restrained than they might otherwise have been, and therefore crises that might have escalated to dangerous levels have been resolved safely at low levels. Robert McNamara states that the “sole purpose” of strategic nuclear force “is to deter the other side’s first use of its strategic forces.” Robert Jervis brings up the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, and how it discourages the use of nuclear weapons by showing the inevitability of total destruction on both sides. So what would be the advantage of using nuclear weapons?
Most of these arguments have been made prior to the dissolve of the Soviet Union and were all formed under a bipolar international system. With the new Soviet Republics, the United States must now deal with the threat of nuclear weapons in unstable countries. Different threats arise when unstable states attain nuclear weapons. First are the threats that can be approached through a modern realist examination. One state might misinterpret another state’s attainment of nuclear weapons as an attack on their own state’s security and therefore attain weapons of equal or greater destruction. This would then bring about a security dilemma, which is expected in the current anarchic international system. Anarchy, as it is used here, does not only mean a lack of overall government, but also the presence of disorder and chaos. The security dilemma would set off an arms race and the more nuclear weapons there are, the greater the chance of an accidental or intentional use. With the new Soviet Republics there would be new boundaries and more disputes. “Whether in the family, the community, or the world at large, contact without occasional conflict is inconceivable. Among men as among states, anarchy, or the absence of government, is associated with the occurrence of violence.” Also, with the weakened state of the economy in the Soviet Republics, their internal military security is diminished to the point where their ability to respond to a first strike nuclear attack is greatly threatened. Thus the Soviet Republics are forced to act with a hair-trigger system if a first strike launch is detected. Next are the threats that can be approached with a global society/complex interdependency solution. This type of view puts more emphasis on individuals and other nonstate actors. This is where there the United States is covering new ground in nuclear threats. Most of the problems of nuclear proliferation stem from the economic failure in the Soviet Republics. In their present economic situation, some of the Soviet Republics are selling off the nuclear weapons and stockpiles, for much less than they’re worth, and with little regard to whom. Another problem arising from the economic adversity, is the inability to guard the existing nuclear weapons and stockpiles from theft. It has been seen and documented by Germany that there were at least 350 cases of attempted nuclear smuggling out of the collapsing Russian nuclear plants. The possibility of nuclear terrorism has now become a reality.
In order to overcome these new threats we must stop or retard nuclear proliferation in the Soviet Republics. Some of the proposed solutions for doing this are: providing nuclear backing to countries; providing economic and military aid in order to persuade countries not to go nuclear; supplying peaceful nuclear power in order to make nations dependent on American nuclear fuel and hence subject to fuel cutoffs if they abandon nonproliferation; creating and monitoring a worldwide anti-proliferation regime; and policing renegade states. Later in the paper I will relate more specific solutions to the problem that it is set up to resolve.
Mainly, what I want to accomplish, is to find out what international relations theories motivate United States foreign policy with regard to nuclear proliferation in the Soviet Republics. It is my belief that the United States’ foreign policy is mainly influenced by the Global Society/Complex Interdependence model of international relations. Contrasting my original hypothesis, is my secondary hypothesis, which states that United States foreign policy is mainly influenced by a Modern Realist model of international relations. By examining a select number of policies adopted by the United States, and relating them to one of the before mentioned models of international relations, I will explore the validity of my hypotheses. It appears that in order to get the best answer to the question, neither hypothesis is sufficient. Both models of international relations significantly influence United States foreign policy. Although the evidence indicates that one theory’s influence is seen more often, the other theory is given more importance (funding) by the United States.
I will first start by explaining the two international relation models in some depth. I will compare and contrast their key points in order to give a clear distinction between the two. I will then list the current threats posed to the United States and correlate each one to a specific model of international relations. Next, the policies used to counter the threats will be explained in length. This part of the paper is crucial in what is to be done next; determining which model was most influential in developing the policies. After the policies are explained using their corresponding model, I will make my conclusions about my hypotheses.
Two Models of International Relations
I am concentrating my discussion on only two of the many models of international relations. After examining the main topics concerned with nuclear proliferation in the Soviet Republics, I based my first and second hypotheses on, what I felt were the two most applicable models: Modern Realism and Global Society/Complex Interdependence.
I will start with the analysis of the Modern Realism model. To begin with, I have chosen one of the many facets of realism, that of modern realism. In general, all realists believe in similar core premises in international relations. Realists see the causes of war and the conditions of peace as central problems. Their view of the modern international structure is one of anarchy. In structural anarchy there is an absence of a central authority to settle disputes, which gives rise to the security dilemma. The security dilemma occurs when, in a self-help system, one nation’s search for security often leaves its current and potential adversaries insecure. This situation often provides incentives for arms races and other types of hostile interactions. Realists see geographically based groups as the key actors in the system. These groups are usually nation-states that are guided by national interest. National interest, under realism, is defined in terms of security and power. For sources of theories, insights and evidence, realists look towards politics, history, and, to a degree economics.
The preceding views were shared by all types of realists, but what sets modern realism apart from the rest of the realists? Modern realism tends to be a more deductive type of model. This deductive influence stems from the other major difference between classical and modern realism. Modern realists accept and apply many economic tools and concepts to international relations.
The second international relations model is the Global Society model. One of the most defining characteristics is its widened view of the central problems in the international system. It carries a broad agenda from social, to economic, to environmental issues. The Global Society model recognizes that, in today’s modern world, there are new sources of motivation, such as modernization, the environment, and the economy. This model also stresses the importance of the actions of nonstate actors, including individuals. Within this model human needs and wants are seen as the central motivating factors. The Global Society model emphasizes its own ability to adapt to the changing system around it.
For a basic comparison of the two models look at Table #1. When comparing and contrasting the two models, one sees three areas where the two models strongly conflict. The first is in their conception of who the key actors are in the current international system. Modern realists only recognize those actors at the state level while those using the Global Society model recognize state actors right down to the individual. This shows that although nation-states continue to be important international actors, they possess a declining ability to control their own destinies. The next difference can be seen in their motivations. Global Society models recognize that international behavior and outcomes arise from a myriad of motives, not merely security in the realist sense. Thus the Global Society models are more sensitive to the possibility that politics of trade, currency, immigration, health, and the environment may significantly differ from those typically associated with security issues. The last major difference is in the flexibility of the models. Where modern realism is rigid and unable to change effectively, the global society is able to modify its policies in order to keep up to the rapid pace of technology.
Identifying the Threats
What are the situations caused by nuclear proliferation that threaten the United States’ security? Under what model can they be identified? This section will be divided into two parts, one dealing with the threats that are recognized through the Modern Realism model, and the other dealing with the threats that are identified through the Global Society model. Although there are some instances in which the threat can be identified by both models, there will still be two separate analyses because of subtle differences in the two.
The major reason to be concerned with nuclear proliferation in the new Soviet Republics is the chance, even if small, that a nuclear incident could occur either intentionally or by accident. When this threat is examined with a Modern Realism model, the emerging problems in a developing security dilemma become apparent. There are two main reasons to be concerned about security dilemmas. First, they are powerful stimulants for states to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and so they make preventing proliferation harder. Second, they cause states to arm themselves beyond their security needs. A security dilemma arises when a state, while arming itself for purely defensive reasons, unintentionally makes its neighbors fell more insecure. The neighboring states in response increase their own arsenals, believing they have redressed a serious imbalance in forces. The original state, seeing this activity by its neighbors, and believing that nothing it did caused its neighbors to arm, infers that its neighbors must have offensive intentions (or else they wouldn’t have armed) and consequently increases its own arsenal in response. This is called a spiral of mutual armament and leads to increasing levels of suspicion about each other’s intentions. The security dilemma has particular implications for the non-Russian republics. Given their size relative to Russia, and their consequent lack of confidence in their ability to defend themselves with conventional weapons, security dilemmas are more likely to make them want to acquire nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. This scenario has a consequence that I have already referred to earlier in the paper: that there would be a greater autonomous risk of nuclear war, whether by intentional means or not.
In addition, modern realists see the economic distress of the new Soviet Republics as area with a potential threat. The realists view this problem is restricted to the state level only. At this level, the Soviet Republics are selling off their nuclear weapons and stockpiles, with little or no discretion as to which state is the purchaser, for much needed state income. This is nuclear proliferation at its most basic level. In the self-help, anarchy system, nation-states are motivated by national interest, power, and security. In a realist system, the state will work towards fulfilling these motivations at all cost.
Another threat that results from the economic disparity is what is called the hair-trigger effect. Russia’s severe budget crunch has so strained its nuclear forces that Russian military leaders fear they would not be able to respond to a US first strike. Due to lack of funds, all but two of its ballistic missile submarines are in dock and most of its other mobile ballistic missiles have been garrisoned. Thus most of Russia’s arsenal is stationary and could be destroyed, if not launched before the impact of incoming missiles. As a result, Russian military planners are more likely to rely on a policy of “launch on warning.” That is, launching their most vulnerable missiles before the first enemy missile has landed. This provides little time for decision making (15 to 30 minutes). To compound the threat, the deteriorating condition of Russia’s early warning radar and satellites increases the possibility of false signals. In January 1995, the launch of a Norwegian atmospheric research rocket brought the danger of Russia’s launch-on-warning policy into sharp focus. Despite prior notification of the launch, Russia mistook the research rocket for a sea-launched ballistic missile. Before recognizing the error, President Yeltsin and his commanders had begun activating the launch codes of Russia’s nuclear missiles.
Now we will examine the threats that can be identified through the Global Society model. First and foremost are the threats that result from the weakened economies of the Soviet Republics. Because of the economic strain on them, most of the Soviet Republics have a lack of funding for the purpose of securing their nuclear weapons and stockpiles. Many underpaid Russian soldiers have resorted to the underground pawning of nuclear materials for money. This problem is important at the individual level because there is relevance in who the supplies are leaked to, most likely “crazy statesmen and ruthless terrorists.” Many people believed in the past that nuclear terrorism was nothing to be worried about. Robert J. Art writes “?to make an effective nuclear threat, terrorists must reveal their identities; and when they do, they can be targeted and therefore deterred.” I see this argument as a little too optimistic. In March 1995, US Customs agents in Miami launched a two-year undercover investigation reaching into high-level official circles in Russia, Bulgaria and Lithuania. It would become the first credible case of a scenario to smuggle tactical nuclear weapons into the United States. The Untied States was able to put an end to this terrorist action before any nuclear threat could materialize, but are we willing to rely upon a 100% success rate on all nuclear terrorist threats?
I will address each of the threats listed in the previous section individually along with the related international related model’s proposed solution(s). Each solution itself will be correlated to either the Modern Realism model or the Global Security model. I will explain what features of the proposed solution relate it to the particular international relations theory.
First, I will examine the modern realist proposals for overcoming the threats resulting from the security dilemma. The first mentioned threat was that of an arms race among the Soviet Republics. One of the proposed solutions to this threat would be for the United States to include the Soviet Republics under their “umbrella” of nuclear protection. It is thought that if the United States were to back these republics, that the need for their own nuclear arsenal would be obsolete. This solution is proposed on the state level, to eliminate the need of nuclear weapons for national security. Thus, if we were to guarantee the security of the individual republic and give power to the state through nuclear backing, we would have successfully eliminated the central modern realist motivations to get involved in a security dilemma, and consequently an arms race.