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  • Author: Rajesh Basrur
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Cold War debate between Albert Wohlstetter and Patrick Blackett over the requirements of effective deterrence is of profound relevance half a century later. The two thinkers offered systematic arguments for their maximalist (Wohlstetter) and minimalist (Blackett) positions. How we conceive of these requirements shapes the kinds of nuclear weapons doctrines, forces and postures we adopt. Whereas the Wohlstetter-Blackett debate was based largely on deductive logic, the opposing arguments can today be assessed on the basis of evidence drawing from nearly seven decades of strategic behaviour between nuclear rivals. An analysis of major confrontations in five nuclear dyads – United States-Soviet Union, United States-China, Soviet Union-China, India-Pakistan, and United States-North Korea – clearly offers much stronger support for Blackett?s minimalist case than for Wohlstetter?s maximalist one. Effective deterrence does not require second-strike capability as defined by Wohlstetter and the nuclear balance has no effect on a state?s capacity to deter. Consequently, the central tenets of orthodox nuclear deterrence theory and doctrine are shown to be without foundation. For policymakers, the optimal forces and postures required for effective deterrence are therefore less demanding and the hurdles in the path of arms control and at least partial disarmament less difficult to cross.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Cold War, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, China, India, North Korea
  • Author: Erik Beukel
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The divided Korean peninsula is a flashpoint in the regional security complex in East Asia. The central issue is the threat posed by North Korea and how to meet it. After a review of North Korea as an international actor and of two important incidents in 2010 (the sinking of the South Korean naval ship Cheonan and North Korea's shelling of the South Korean coastal island of Yeonpyeong), the rationality underlying the country's military efforts is considered. South Korea's Nordpolitik is reviewed and the rise and decline of its sunshine policy and the role of its alliance with the United States is described. Two non-Korean great powers, China and the United States, are important actors in the region, and their relations with North Korea, goals and priorities, and implementation strategies are outlined. The report concludes with reflections on the potential for changing the present security complex, which is marked by a fear of war, into a restrained security regime, based on agreed and observed rules of conduct.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Foreign Policy, Cold War, Communism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, East Asia, Korea, Island
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Transitions often present risks to authoritarian regimes, but the succession in North Korea has apparently passed with few problems. With no opposition from the military and China's clear support, there are no signs to suggest that Kim Jŏng-ŭn, the young leader who replaced his father, Kim Jong-il, following his death in December 2011, is anything but in charge in his own right. Far from creating a regency of older family members or generals, the North Korean system has maintained its focus on a single leader and projected an image of stability and unity as it celebrates the centenary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung. While that image appears to be accurate, there is nothing to suggest that the new leader is or will become inclined to take measures that would either improve the lot of the country's citizens or reduce the regional frictions that Pyongyang is at the centre of.
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Israel, North Korea
  • Author: KUIK Cheng-Chwee
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Malaysia's China policy in the post-Cold War era – as an instance of a smaller state's strategy toward a proximate and rising great power – has been characterized by three patterns. First, there was a shift from hostility and guarded rapprochement during the Cold War to cordiality and maturing partnership in the post-Cold War era. Second, despite the overall positive development, Malaysia's China policy has remained, in essence, a hedging approach that is driven by both a pragmatic desire to maximize benefits from a closer relationship with the neighboring giant and a contingent calculation to guard against any long-term strategic risks in the uncertain regional environment. Third, such a two-pronged approach, which took shape since the 1990s under Mahathir Mohamad, has endured beyond the Mahathir era. Indeed, under his successors Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Tun Razak, Malaysia has continued to pursue a policy of dualism vis-à-vis China. What explains the enduring continuity of the hedging approach in Malaysia's China policy? This paper adopts a neoclassical realist perspective, arguing that the continuity is attributed to both structural and domestic factors. Domestically, the changing bases of political legitimation in the multi-ethnic country, which highlight the increasing salience of economic performance and political inclusiveness as key sources of moral authority to the UMNO-led coalition government, have necessitated the succeeding leaders to continue pursuing a pragmatic policy aimed at ensuring a stable and productive relationship with China, not least to gain from the steadily growing bilateral trade and the giant's growing outward investment. Structurally, Malaysia's position as a smaller state has compelled it to be constantly vigilant about the uncertainty of state intentions and inter-great power relations, which in turn demands it adopts contingent measures to hedge against longer-term risks. It is such structural and domestic determinants that have fundamentally shaped the country's policy towards China in general and the South China Sea issue in particular, which characteristically bears the mark of a delicate dualism, i.e. an explicit preference for engaging China through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, but one that is backed by a low-key practice of maintaining and strengthening its traditional military links with its Western security partners.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Cold War, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Malaysia, Israel