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  • Author: Matake Kamiya
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Relations of the Asia-Pacific
  • Institution: Japan Association of International Relations
  • Abstract: For those who live in the American International Relations community, Etel Solingen's Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia the Middle East undoubtedly represents a stunning success of the study of nuclear proliferation. In 1994, Solingen published an influential article in this field of research, 'The Political Economy of Nuclear Restraint', in International Security, and argued that countries with ruling coalitions pursuing economic liberalization have stronger incentives to refrain from developing nuclear weapons than those with 'inward-looking, nationalist, and radical-confessional coalitions'. Based on the review of cases in South Asia, on the Korean Peninsula, in the Middle East, and in Latin America, she concluded that the former are internationalist in nature and are unwilling to damage international trade and investment by going nuclear, whereas the latter are more likely to pursue nuclear weapons because they care much less about the economic costs of nuclearization. In Nuclear Logics, Solingen expands such findings of her 1994 article and argues even more persuasively that 'internationalizing models of political survival make the development of nuclear weapons less likely than inward-looking models' (p. 46). Starting from 'the puzzle of contrasting historical trajectories' across East Asia and the Middle East since the late 1960s (p. 4), Solingen conducts the first ever 'systematic efforts' (p. 11) to explain why East Asia has largely moved toward denuclearization while the norm among the core Middle East powers has been nuclearization. Criticizing four alternative theories of nuclear choices of states, i.e. neorealism, neoliberal institutionalism, constructivism, and 'theories about democracy and foreign policy', as insufficient to solve her puzzle, Solingen insists that the study of nuclear proliferation must pay more attention to the effects of internationalization on domestic politics and nuclear policy. According to Solingen, '[w]hereas inward-looking models might have regarded nuclear weapons as assets in the arsenal of building regime legitimacy, outward-oriented ones regarded them as liabilities' (p. 277) and the two distinct patterns of nuclear choices in the Middle East and East Asia during the 'second nuclear age' can be well explained by the heavy regional concentrations of respective models in respective regions. In East Asia, the concentration of leaders who stake their political survival on economic growth through integration into the global economy reinforced individual, domestic incentives of leaders to avoid nuclearization across the borders. In the Middle East, the concentration of leaders who resist internationalization by trade protection, import substitution, and state entrepreneurship had the opposite effect. In fact, Solingen's careful case studies of four 'nuclear aspirants' in East Asia and five in the Middle East successfully demonstrate that '[t]he nuclear choices of all pertinent cases' in the two regions since the 1960s 'are compatible with domestic survival models' (p. 277).
  • Topic: International Relations, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, East Asia, Korea