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  • Author: Fiona S. Cunningham, M. Taylor Fravel
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Chinese views of nuclear escalation are key to assessing the potential for nuclear escalation in a crisis or armed conflict between the United States and China, but they have not been examined systematically. A review of original Chinese-language sources and interviews with members of China's strategic community suggest that China is skeptical that nuclear escalation could be controlled once nuclear weapons are used and, thus, leaders would be restrained from pursuing even limited use. These views are reflected in China's nuclear operational doctrine (which outlines plans for retaliatory strikes only and lacks any clear plans for limited nuclear use) and its force structure (which lacks tactical nuclear weapons). The long-standing decoupling of Chinese nuclear and conventional strategy, organizational biases within China's strategic community, and the availability of space, cyber, and conventional missile weapons as alternative sources of strategic leverage best explain Chinese views toward nuclear escalation. China's confidence that a U.S.-China conflict would not escalate to the use of nuclear weapons may hamper its ability to identify nuclear escalation risks in such a scenario. Meanwhile, U.S. scholars and policymakers emphasize the risk of inadvertent escalation in a conflict with China, but they are more confident than their Chinese counterparts that the use of nuclear weapons could remain limited. When combined, these contrasting views could create pressure for a U.S.-China conflict to escalate rapidly into an unlimited nuclear war.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Elizabeth N. Saunders
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When and how do domestic politics influence a state's nuclear choices? Recent scholarship on nuclear security develops many domestic-political explanations for different nuclear decisions. These explanations are partly the result of two welcome trends: first, scholars have expanded the nuclear timeline, examining state behavior before and after nuclear proliferation; and second, scholars have moved beyond blunt distinctions between democracies and autocracies to more fine-grained understandings of domestic constraints. But without linkages between them, new domestic-political findings could be dismissed as a laundry list of factors that do not explain significant variation in nuclear decisions. This review essay assesses recent research on domestic politics and nuclear security, and develops a framework that illuminates when and how domestic-political mechanisms are likely to affect nuclear choices. In contrast to most previous domestic arguments, many of the newer domestic-political mechanisms posited in the literature are in some way top-down; that is, they show leaders deliberately maintaining or loosening control over nuclear choices. Two dimensions govern the extent and nature of domestic-political influence on nuclear choices: the degree of threat uncertainty and the costs and benefits to leaders of expanding the circle of domestic actors involved in a nuclear decision. The framework developed in this review essay helps make sense of several cases explored in the recent nuclear security literature. It also has implications for understanding when and how domestic-political arguments might diverge from the predictions of security-based analyses.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Domestic politics, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iran, North Korea
  • Author: Eliza Gheorghe
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The evolution of the nuclear market explains why there are only nine members of the nuclear club, not twenty-five or more, as some analysts predicted. In the absence of a supplier cartel that can regulate nuclear transfers, the more suppliers there are, the more intense their competition will be, as they vie for market share. This commercial rivalry makes it easier for nuclear technology to spread, because buyers can play suppliers off against each other. The ensuing transfers help countries either acquire nuclear weapons or become hedgers. The great powers (China, Russia, and the United States) seek to thwart proliferation by limiting transfers and putting safeguards on potentially dangerous nuclear technologies. Their success depends on two structural factors: the global distribution of power and the intensity of the security rivalry among them. Thwarters are most likely to stem proliferation when the system is unipolar and least likely when it is multipolar. In bipolarity, their prospects fall somewhere in between. In addition, the more intense the rivalry among the great powers in bipolarity and multipolarity, the less effective they will be at curbing proliferation. Given the potential for intense security rivalry among today's great powers, the shift from unipolarity to multipolarity does not portend well for checking proliferation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power, Nonproliferation, International Relations Theory
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China
  • Author: Fiona S. Cunningham, M. Taylor Fravel
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Whether China will abandon its long-standing nuclear strategy of assured retaliation for a first-use posture will be a critical factor in U.S.-China strategic stability. In recent years, the United States has been developing strategic capabilities such as missile defenses and conventional long-range strike capabilities that could reduce the effectiveness of China's deterrent. Writings by Chinese strategists and analysts, however, indicate that China is unlikely to abandon its current nuclear strategy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, East Asia
  • Author: Gene Gerzhoy
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When does a nuclear-armed state's provision of security guarantees to a militarily threatened ally inhibit the ally's nuclear weapons ambitions? Although the established security model of nuclear proliferation posits that clients will prefer to depend on a patron's extended nuclear deterrent, this proposition overlooks how military threats and doubts about the patron's intentions encourage clients to seek nuclear weapons of their own. To resolve this indeterminacy in the security model's explanation of nuclear restraint, it is necessary to account for the patron's use of alliance coercion, a strategy consisting of conditional threats of military abandonment to obtain compliance with the patron's demands. This strategy succeeds when the client is militarily dependent on the patron and when the patron provides assurances that threats of abandonment are conditional on the client's nuclear choices. Historical evidence from West Germany's nuclear decisionmaking provides a test of this logic. Contrary to the common belief among nonproliferation scholars, German leaders persistently doubted the credibility and durability of U.S. security guarantees and sought to acquire an independent nuclear deterrent. Rather than preferring to renounce nuclear armament, Germany was compelled to do so by U.S. threats of military abandonment, contradicting the established logic of the security model and affirming the logic of alliance coercion.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, West Germany
  • Author: Seyom Brown
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Columbia University Press
  • Abstract: Seyom Brown's authoritative account of U.S. foreign policy from the end of the Second World War to the present challenges common assumptions about American presidents and their struggle with power and purpose. Brown shows Truman to be more anguished than he publicly revealed about the use of the atomic bomb; Eisenhower and George W. Bush to be more immersed in the details of policy formulation and implementation than generally believed; Reagan to be more invested in changing his worldview while in office than any previous president; and Obama to have modeled his military exit from Iraq and Afghanistan more closely to Nixon and Kissinger's exit strategy from Vietnam than he would like to admit. Brown's analyses of Obama's policies for countering terrorist threats at home and abroad, dealing with unprecedented upheavals in the Middle East, preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and containing new territorial expansion by China and Russia reinforce the book's "constancy and change" theme, which shows that serving the interests of the most powerful country in the world transforms the Oval Office's occupant more than its occupant can transform the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Cold War, Terrorism, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Identifier: 9780231133296
  • Publication Identifier Type: ISBN
  • Author: Sharon Squassoni, Robert Kim, Stephanie Cooke, Jacob Greenberg
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) participated in a global project on uranium governance led by the Danish Institute for International Studies that looks at uranium accountability and control in 17 uranium- producing countries. The project seeks to identify governance gaps and provide policy recommendations for improving front- end transparency, security, and regulation. The impetus for the project is the concern that monitoring activities at the front end—uranium mining, milling, and conversion—could be strengthened.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Micah Zenko, Sarah Kreps
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The use of unmanned aerial systems—commonly referred to as drones—over the past decade has revolutionized how the United States uses military force. As the technology has evolved from surveillance aircraft to an armed platform, drones have been used for a wide range of military missions: the United States has successfully and legitimately used armed drones to conduct hundreds of counterterrorism operations in battlefield zones, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It has also used armed drones in non-battlefield settings, specifically in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines. Collectively, these strikes have eliminated a number of suspected terrorists and militants from Asia to Africa at no cost in terms of U.S. casualties, an advantage of drones over manned platforms that has made them attractive to many other states. However, non-battlefield strikes have drawn criticism, particularly those conducted under the assertion that they are acts of self-defense.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Asia
  • Author: John R. Deni
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The revolutions of the Arab Spring have had profound implications for global security generally and for U.S. security specifically. In most cases, these implications are only beginning to reveal themselves in the various countries affected across the region. Most obviously, the future of Syria—indeed, whether it remains a unified political entity—remains an open question. Whether and how the Syrian civil war is resolved is bound to impact significantly U.S. efforts to help Israel maintain its security. Meanwhile, in Libya, weak governmental institutions and rival power centers have made it difficult for the authorities in Tripoli to gain full control over the entire country. Particularly along Libya's borders, this has magnified the risk of transnational terrorists and traffickers exploiting the poorly governed spaces of the Pan Sahel. Elsewhere, the unfinished revolution in Egypt holds implications for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, for the balance of regional power vis-à-vis Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and for the global trade—especially energy resources—that passes through the Suez Canal every day.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Arabia, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Geoffrey Till
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The relative rise of China is likely to lead a major shift in the world's strategic architecture, which the United States will need to accommodate. For the outcome to be generally beneficial, China needs to be dissuaded from hegemonic aspirations and retained as a cooperative partner in the world system. This will require a range of potentially conflicting thrusts in U.S. policy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Emerging Markets, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, East Asia
  • Author: Peter Feaver (ed)
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: American strategic debates are rarely new. They generally replay inherited conflicts of vision and interpretation in new settings. The consistent, almost obsessive, focus on “enduring dilemmas” has led historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., to emphasize the “cycles of American history,” especially as they relate to politics and defense policy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Andrew Monaghan, Keir Giles
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: When U.S. President Barack Obama cancelled a scheduled September 2013 summit meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, “lack of progress on issues such as missile defense” was cited as the primary justification. Despite widespread and well founded assumption that the real trigger for the cancellation was the Russian decision to offer temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, the citing of missile defense was indicative. The comment marked one of the periodic plateaus of mutual frustration between the United States and Russia over U.S. attitudes to missile defense capability, stemming from a continued failure to achieve meaningful dialogue over U.S. plans and Russian fears.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe
  • Author: John R. Deni
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The time has come for a reappraisal of the U.S. Army's forward presence in East Asia, given the significantly changed strategic context and the extraordinarily high, recurring costs of deploying U.S. Army forces from the 50 states for increasingly important security cooperation activities across the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. For economic, political, diplomatic, and military reasons, the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater continues to grow in importance to the United States. As part of a broad, interagency, multifaceted approach, the U.S. military plays a critical role in the rebalancing effort now underway. The U.S. Army in particular has a special role to play in bolstering the defense of allies and the deterrence of aggression, promoting regional security and stability, and ameliorating the growing U.S.-China security dilemma.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, Asia, Australia
  • Author: David Schenker, Eric Trager
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Cairo's possible purchase of advanced weapons systems from Russia could become another irritant in U.S.-Egyptian relations.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Ukraine, Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A close look at the group's military and ideological credentials seems to reveal a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance. In mid-April, web videos began to surface showing Syrian rebel unit Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement) employing U.S.-designed antitank guided missiles in Idlib province. The use of these TOW (tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided) missiles indicates that the United States and/or one of its TOW-equipped allies have provided lethal aid to the group. Videos of two other groups with TOWs have appeared, but Harakat Hazm seems to have received the most, or at least posted the most videos of them in action. Harakat Hazm has many qualities that make it a good candidate for such assistance. It appears secular in orientation, is well organized from a military perspective, has a significant inventory of heavy weapons, operates across an important area of Syria, and has an established combat record in fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime. In short, the group seems to provide at least a partial answer to longstanding questions about which rebel groups Washington should arm.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: United States, Syria, North America
  • Author: Alex Brouse, Dustin McDonald
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: High tensions in Northeast Asia are cause for considerable alarm. Of particular concern for the maintenance of global security are the disputes over Senkaku/Diaoyu and Dokdo/Takeshima islands. Strong grievances rooted in history and rising nationalistic sentiment in China, South Korea and Japan have made the positions of the respective parties currently irreconcilable. The tension surrounding the issue of territorial control, particularly between China and Japan, has the potential to spark a military confrontation. Due to a lack of empathy and the propensity to overestimate threats from neighbours, the region is especially volatile. Public commitments by US President Barack Obama in support of the US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty could ensure that any military confrontation between China and Japan might quickly escalate and draw the United States into direct conflict with China. In order to improve empathy, a concerted effort must be made to change the channel and work on issues where interests do align. Nowhere do the interests of China, South Korea, Japan and the United States align more than on the issue of North Korean denuclearization. By working together on an issue of mutual concern, these four countries can counter the rapid erosion of trust. By cultivating a cooperative attitude, tensions can be lowered, increasing the prospects for peaceful management of current acute disputes.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, South Korea
  • Author: Sean Kay
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Peace and Security Studies
  • Abstract: This working paper demonstrates that the announced "pivot" to Asia by the United States represents a major break with twenty years of liberal and neoconservative priorities in American foreign policy. The pivot to Asia reflects a return to realist thinking in terms of America's international goals. The paper also shows that this shift is difficult to achieve due to existing priorities in other regions and domestic policy dynamics. The paper begins with a brief explanation of the traditions of idealism and realism in American foreign policy. The analysis then explains the various dynamics necessary to implement the "pivot" to Asia and shows the major constraints on implementing this new approach. The conclusion shows that emerging priorities suggest both a need and capacity for a realist alignment of American foreign policy. However, institutionalized constraints risk undermining America's ability to adjust to a new set of twenty-first century global economic and security interests.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, East Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iran is attempting to link greater cooperation against the so-called Islamic State (IS) organization to concessions by the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) in negotiations on Iran's nuclear program Iran and the P5+1 remain far apart on the core issue of Iran's uranium enrichment program, increasing the likelihood that the talks will be extended beyond the current deadline of November 24 Iran requires a nuclear deal to satisfy public expectations and to increase its influence on regional events, including the US-led effort against IS A key Iranian goal is to dissuade the coalition from expanding the anti-IS campaign to include destabilizing the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, United Kingdom, Iran, Middle East, France, Germany, Syria
  • Author: John F. Lehman (ed), Harvey Sicherman (ed)
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: A decade has passed since the end of the Cold War. The demise of the Soviet Union concluded the most vulnerable period in American history, a time when the possibility of nuclear attack threatened the very existence of the United States. No wonder then that Americans heaved a mighty sigh of relief, having survived to watch the fall of their country's most powerful enemy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Leonard Wong
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: In 1970, the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force delivered its report to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon. In the report, better known as the Gates Commission due to the leadership of former Secretary of Defense Thomas Gates, the members of the Commission stated, "We unanimously believe that the nation's interests will be better served by an all-volunteer force, supported by an effective stand-by draft." They added, "We have satisfied ourselves that a volunteer force will not jeopardize national security, and we believe it will have a beneficial effect on the military as well as the rest of our society." In June of 1973, after years of debate, the statutory authority for the draft expired and the all-volunteer force became a reality.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States