The Deterrence and Assurance Conversation

As we survey the world today, we find the nuclear landscape to be more uncertain and precarious than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War.

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Over a quarter century past the fall of the Berlin Wall, nuclear dangers appear to be growing rather than receding, contributing to an increasingly complex security environment. Yet, in spite of a landscape so fraught with nuclear perils, we also see deepening discontent with the very notion of nuclear deterrence. Recent political trends in Europe and in the United States indicate a growing skepticism about the benefits of the internationalist system on which deterrence, and especially extended deterrence, depends. We hear a growing chorus of voices questioning its legitimacy, dividing the global community between the nuclear haves and have-nots: indeed, the United Nations will begin negotiations this upcoming March on a nuclear weapons treaty ban for which none of the nuclear weapons-possessing states have indicated any support.

Why, then, in the face of such concerning nuclear challenges, is there so little consensus in the United States and abroad about the importance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in assurance, deterrence, and stability, and about what these changes mean for declaratory policy and capabilities?

Read the full report here.

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