Nuclear Deterrence and Global Peace in the 21st Century Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC


            Ever since the dawn of human civilization, there has never been such an emotive a topic as that of Nuclear Weapons, eliciting the need for the entire world to come together in partnership so as to ensure international peace and stability and the safeguarding of human lives. This follows the fact that no other matter has continued unrelentingly to take the front-most position of international relations and diplomacy than the issue of nuclear weapons.

  The advent of the gravity of the matter was spurred on to the fore by the Cold War, a situation which bifurcated the world between US and her Allies and Russia and the Satellite States. The yardstick herein for measuring the might of the two nations became the construction of nuclear weapons; with the aftermath of the war taking a dominant form of the push by the international communities and international organizations calling for the destruction of these weapons.

Background of the Study and Thesis Statement

            Looking back to contrast the past and the present, any political analyst or historian would be tempted to draw the conclusion that nuclear deterrence has not been so successful, following the realization of a nuclear league or club which has been ever expansive.

This is because, at the end of the Cold War, it was only five states that were listed or known as having arsenals of nuclear weapons, as members of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with these states being: America,  Russia, united kingdom,. France and China. Nevertheless, presently, 40 years after the formation of NPT, there are instead about 15 states having nuclear weapons within their disposals; with at least 10 other states operating outside the NPT nuclear powers with Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea serving as examples of these states.

            The above increase in number of states having their hand on nuclear weapons underscores the fact that the world’s program to inculcate nuclear deterrence and control is moribund, rather than effective, given the adoption of theories and formulations which are inchoate and bereft of collectivism of approach. This is because; the propositions and theories of international peace and relations which were used to craft the nuclear deterrence policy frameworks were not inclusive of the dynamics of  international relations, diplomacy, state interests and goals.

Justification of the Study and Literature Review

            The justification of the study finds its expedience on the fact that even with the formation international organizations such as the UN and its Security Council and plans such as the NPT to abate chances for nuclear militancy by extirpating the berth for the manufacturing of the nuclear weapons; very little, if at all any success has been realized; with the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as Iran under the leadership of Ahmedinejad also beginning to have a hand in nuclear weapons activities.  This begs for the re-visitation of the matter of nuclear deterrence, with attention being paid to the discussions, debates and theories which have been advanced with regard to the topic.

            First off, Kenneth Waltz’s theory of international relations and nuclear activity has it that states are merely security seekers, with the power of the state being seen to run along the vertical lines as that of the international community, along the horizontal scale. This underscores the maxim and belief of Waltz that it is out of anarchy that peace comes. This neorealist preposition by Waltz that has it that it is when there is the absence of international regulation that nations may come together to form and regulate bodies in the field of international relations.

The importance of the above theoretical stance by Waltz remains important, given the fact that it creates a room for the recognition of state interest in the crafting of international nuclear deterrence laws which take stock of the reality of national interests. Essentially, in international relations, the cardinal rule of international relations and diplomacy is interests.

In a closely related wavelength and in what is regarded as the core of neorealism, is Waltz’s quipping that states are bound to cooperate in the international spectrum only on having ascertained the fact that their interests or security is not placed within harm’s way. It is through this same reason that it is regarded to be true, the notion that in international al relations, today’s friend may be tomorrow’s enemy.

            It is on this account that even when it emerged clearly in the 1967 6 Days War that Israel was armed with nuclear weapons outside the conventions of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the US did not do anything to revert the situation, following the fact that Israel was a close ally of the US, and as such, also helped secure state interests. Even the slightest display of concern by the US towards this state of affair was only elicited by the fear that the availability of weapons to Israel was bound to usher in unprecedented levels of nuclear weapon proliferation in the volatile Middle East- a situation which would be a significant threat to the US and US interests.

It is also because of this that Russia, a state which was charged together with America in the NPT as Near Peer Competitors to promote nuclear deterrence could not bother deeply when anti-American states such as North Korea ventured into nuclear weapons programs. In a nutshell, it is because of the interplay of state interests that the cause of stamping out nuclear proliferation has not been widely successful (Hardin 1995, p. 192).

            While still on the issue of state interests, Waltz maintains that the way states relate is governed by the fact that states replicate and act depending on the need to strike a balance of power. A rogue nation which is seen by the international community to this end by other players in international diplomacy to this effect can be reined in by other countries so as to restore calm. (McArdle et al. 1996, p 213)

            In a closely related wavelength, it is postulated by Waltz that there exists an extricable and substantial nexus between the number of great states extant and the manner in which the international community may choose to act; with the actions taking on the form of reactions in the form of alliances, the assemblages or building of arms, the imitation of a given country or the probability of courting warfare. To this effect, nation states may intervene into a situation depending on the orientation of the undertaking of another player in the international field towards peace.

            For instance, in the above situation, nations are almost always bound to pose antithetical stances towards states which are considered as unfriendly.  Mixed with the principle of state interest, there is a rule that states will always prefer the vesting of their allies with deadly nuclear weapons to enemy states. States which have common interests on the other hand are also likely to come together for the same cause.

It is on this cause that although the entire globe has something at stake, yet, the members of the Non Aligned Movements, even in the face of being conversant with the pitfalls of Iranian nuclear programs, continue to throw their weight behind Iran’s nuclear program. This again derails the cause of nuclear deterrence, as different rogue nations keep on fiddling with nuclear weapons. For instance, that North Korea is contravening the principles of SALT I and II to manufacture and test these weapons at the gaze of the world which has wrongfully and presumably relegated its role to the US, only spells out doom.

Additionally, Waltz as a neorealist sees the wide proliferation of nuclear weapons as being less detrimental to the cause of world peace, as opposed to the balkanization of the world along two centers of power in nuclear power competition: Russia and the Soviet Blocks and the US and her allies in NATO. This is because; the pitting of the two spheres is seen to polarize the tension and competition among the two sides as there is virtually no middle ground. At the same time, it became easy for the war to be sparked off, following the ability of either the US or Russia to strike an ally of the US or to strike a satellite state, irrespectively.

This case was epitomized clearly in the 17th to 19th Apri

l 1961 when the US sponsored a revolution in Cuba, a country which was under the tutelage of Russia.

Whereas US equipped Batista with tanks, guns and military aircrafts and missiles, Russia successfully warded off America’s onslaught on Cuba by equipping Fidel Castro with military tanks, guns, bombs, military aircrafts and advice. While this event unfolded in Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis also underscored the dangers of nuclear military competition in a world polarized along two antithetical centers of powers.

Catudal (1986, p. 139) argues out that by extension, Waltz maintains that it is the wide proliferation of power which is instrumental for the inculcation of peace. Waltz maintains that when countries apart from Russia and the US have at their disposal, nuclear weapons, there is an alternative center for power is formed, and this therefore reduces the galvanization of states along the two poles. This type of affair attenuates the berth for political patronage and subsequently diffuses tension. At the same time, Waltz sees the theory as being instrumental in entrenching world peace given that it serves a warning to developed but bellicose nations, the knowledge that a nation perceived underdog is armed with nuclear weapons to the teeth.

A good example to the above notion is the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US during the World War II which served the rest of the world powers such as Russia of the imminent power and danger of the US. Thus, the US entered the League of the Nuclear Military Power. The adoption of the above proposition which intimates the accordance of a less strict rule on nuclear proliferation is the main reason as to why there has never been forced intervention on rogue nations which are seen to contravene the NPT treaty- nations such as Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan (Hardin 1995, p 91).

On the other hand, there are those such as John Mearsheimer who point out that the possession of nuclear weapons is not, cannot and will never serve as the guarantee to peace. Like Hans Morgenthau, Mearsheimer maintains that the warding off the danger of nuclear proliferation should portend the crafting of plans which are comprehensive enough to take cognizance of other elements and principles of existence such as human nature and state interests.

Going by Mearsheimer’s propositions, it becomes imperative that it be remembered that it is the failure by the international community to take to stock of the fact that human nature plays an important role in the enhancement of international diplomacy and/ or war which leads to the drawing up of international formulations which are not fully tenable.


Problems with the Existing Ideologies in the Literature Review

            There are pitfalls which remain extant in the theories aforementioned. In the first case, the neorealist theory on nuclear deterrence by stating how states operate only in manner and in ventures bereft of any threat to them underscores to a greater extent, the cause of exertion and ratification of policies which are akin to state interest.

This undermines the fact that logic and laws of the international community as enshrined in the UN charter have it that it is the Developed States such as America and Russia as Near Peer Competitors as the industrial, economic and military Superpowers which are to ensure responsibility over global safety, by the virtue that the genesis of the dangerous nuclear weapons can be traced back to them.  By emphasizing the importance of national interests, Waltz unconsciously makes a dereliction on the need for collective responsibility in international politics.

            In the same wavelength, the theory of Nuclear Weapons Non Realist Theory which goes against the grain of conventional knowledge by postulating that the control of the proliferation of weapons is not the panacea, but that on the contrary, that the proliferation of the nuclear weapons may be the triggering factor to the realization of peace is considered by political scientists such as Sarcusa (2008, p 78) as a long shot.  It is held by Sarcusa (Ibid, 155) that the concentration of nuclear weapons has the potency to spark off a Third World War at the slightest provocation.

In almost the same vein, the above proposition fails to account for the fact that the concentration of nuclear weapons at the hands of many nations may pose as a threat to all , by far and wide, as the weapons will be accessible to Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists. For instance, it is a well known fact that the chief aim propagating the quest of Iran to have nuclear weapons is to counter Israel, America and American allies; and not solely for self defense.

Likewise, virtually all the theories including the nuclear deterrence theory make a dangerous but common assumption that it is the destruction or the halting or limiting of the manufacturing of nuclear weapons which is the panacea to international strife.

On the contrary, what remains clear is the fact that there are other factors which play along warfare and nuclear weapons proliferation; with some of the factors being human nature and knowledge. For instance, the liberalization and storage of knowledge would have it that in spite of the destruction of the nuclear weapons, the know-how concerning these weapons will still remain extant in the field of chemistry, physics, and specifically nuclear physics and military science.

Latest Academic offer in Comparison to the Older Materials and Personal Recommendations

            There are new thoughts which have come up with proposals which are formidable enough to bring about far-reaching solutions. For instance, Schell (2007, p 75) advances a neo-liberal thought pointing out that given the advanced age of civilization, it behooves the international community to redraw nuclear non proliferation laws or policies which are concomitant with the realities of the present world and those of the past epoch. For instance, Catudal (1986 p 101) urges players in the international community to make sure that the policies which are being set in place are cognizant with the frameworks of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talk (SALT) I and II, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) the NPT Treaty.

For instance, a country such as North Korea which reneges on the rulings of the above by testing nuclear weapons in any environment should be left punishable by international law. To this extent, it is an opportune time the International Security Council under the aegis of the UN took home the fact that SALT and START regulations were not meant to be relegated to the past days of Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan. Additionally, the UN is to be proactive, assuming the power to impose embargoes on nations which contravene the SALT I, II, START and NPT standards.

            Lambers (2006, p 90)  points out lucidly that given the fact that concepts such as the decoupling of space and time between nations (globalization) due to technological advancement, international trade and diplomacy; the entire globe should now realize the dire need for collective responsibility like never before. For instance,  Diehl and Moltz (2007 p 190) point out that a rogue nation such as North Korea which remains recalcitrant to the UN and the Superpowers should not be assumed as posing a threat to the US, UK, Canada alone, but rather, to the entire globe.  Similarly, nations which proceed to trade with the same are to be subjected to the same retribution from the entire international community.

            At the same time, it remains expedient that the Superpowers such as America, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy among others to redefine their relations with the rest of the world. This applies in all fields such as international trade through the WTO, world health provision through the WHO, and fairness in environmental politics through the UNEP.

This recommendation follows the revelation that the world can no longer trade or continue existing in a situation whereby it is only one side which is benefiting, at the expense of the underdogs, due to unequal international standards.  The veracity to the above proposition is attested of by the heavy and perennial presence of terrorism, and international acrimony which takes many shapes including the changing of trade partners from Europe and American to Asia (Cohen and Lee 2006, p 154).


            Given the reality that it is the issue of international peace and stability in the present world which is the main goal in nuclear deterrence, with the principle aim of safeguarding the safety of human life, it remains true that the international community needs to get beyond the above recommendations.

One point of concern herein is education. While it is true that disciplines such as military science, chemistry and nuclear physics cannot be simply eradicated as a measure of instilling global peace, it remains highly expedient of the international community to ensure that these fields are tampered with social sciences so as to inculcate proper predispositions such as fairness, justice, the sanctity of human life, the oneness of humanity and international cohesion.


Catudal, H. (1986). The Significance of Nuclear Deterrence. Colorado: Brill Academic Publishing.

Cohen, A. and Lee, S. (2006). “Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity” Journal for Fundamental Questions of Human Safety. Washington: Rowman & Littlefield.

Diehl, S. and Moltz, C. (2007). “Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” A Journal of Nuclear Weapons. Compton: ABC-CLIO.

Hardin, R. (1995). “Nuclear Deterrence” The Ethics and Strategies. New York: McGraw Hill.

Lambers, W. (2006). Nuclear Weapons. Michigan: Michigan University Press.

McArdle, C. et al. (1996). Opportunities and Risks of Nuclear Deterrence.  New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Sarcusa, J. (2008). An Introduction to Nuclear Weapons.  Ohio: Blackwell Press.  US Defense Atomic Support Agency. (1987). The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Washington: US Defense Atomic Support Agency.

Schell, J. (2007). “The Seventh Decade” The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. Los Angeles: Metropolitan Books.

Annotated Bibliography

Catudal, H. (1986). The Significance of Nuclear Deterrence. Colorado: Brill Academic Publishing.

This journal remains of pivotal importance to the above study, given the fact that it spells out the gains the world in entirety is likely to experience as a result of checking against nuclear proliferation.

Cohen, A. and Lee, S. (2006). “Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity” Journal for Fundamental Questions of Human Safety. Washington: Rowman & Littlefield.

            This journal remains quite a great showpiece to the research proposal as it draws out a one to one correlation between the reality of the future of mankind, and the folly of man to draw out defining rules to curb nuclear proliferation.

Diehl, S. and Moltz, C. (2007). “Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” A Journal of Nuclear Weapons. Compton: ABC-CLIO.

            Herein, Diehl and Moltz present a journal so instrumental to the study of nuclear deterrence by taking to spell out to the world, the history, dynamics and the effects of nuclear weapons proliferation.; the same also carry out a prognosis on how the same is likely to affect international relations and diplomacy with the emergence of rogue nations such as Iran.

Hardin, R. (1995). “Nuclear Deterrence” The Ethics and Strategies. New York: McGraw Hill.

            Hardin herein presents quite a comprehensive work on matters pertaining to ethics and responsibility of the international community towards nuclear activities.

Lambers, W. (2006). Nuclear Weapons. Michigan: Michigan University Press.

            This book remains useful to the study as it carries out a comprehensive guide on the history of nuclei activities. The origins and the prognosis on the same discipline on the same topic is well elaborated so that any learner is able to ascertain the future of nuclear activities on global economy.

McArdle, C. et al. (1996). Opportunities and Risks of Nuclear Deterrence.  New York: John Wiley and Sons.

            This book has been very useful to the study since; as opposed to all others in the references list, it explores all the chances possible for the controlling of nuclear weapons proliferation.

Sarcusa, J. (2008). An Introduction to Nuclear Weapons.  Ohio: Blackwell Press.  US Defense Atomic Support Agency. (1987). The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. Washington: US Defense Atomic Support Agency.

            This book remains very useful to the study, given that it elaborates the history and the factors which catapulted into existence, nuclear activities. The book also remains useful to the study as it tackles the concept of global responsibility towards the same.

Schell, J. (2007). “The Seventh Decade” The New Shape of Nuclear Danger. Los Angeles: Metropolitan Books.

            This book has been of key significance to the study as it tackles the subject of     nuclear weapons proliferation, with attention being directed specifically towards     the side of economic downturn and increased deterioration of international peace.

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