A brief look into Cold War beliefs, whether or not nuclear weapons deter conflict, how nuclear weapons provide a military and political function, and why some states believe in nuclear armaments will demonstrate how effective the use of the most dangerous weapons in history can assist in the activities of peaceful cohabitation and coexistence. Nuclear Weapons: The Cold War Example The actions throughout the Cold War demonstrate the ideas of offensive weapons used for defensive purposes.
The activities and positions of the United States and the Soviets during the mid-1980s demonstrate how nuclear buildup was the answer to ensuring an uneasy peace between the two countries. During this time, the United States: Sought only to restore a stable military balance, assure deterrence and reduce the risk of war. It found unacceptable a perpetuation of the present situation, in which it was compelled to maintain a large strategic arsenal, and [favored] a more stable strategic balance at much lower levels of armaments. (Nuclear Arms:
Positions of, 1984, p. 12) The USA position on the problem was that more weapons were needed in order to maintain a sense of status quo with the Soviets who were commencing a nuclear buildup of their own throughout the 1980s decade. (Nuclear Arms: Positions of, 1984, p. 12) The idea behind these buildups is actually a continuation of a previous form of military and political ideology. The United States and the Soviet Union both believed that as long as they concentrated on building nuclear weapons, they would not actually concentrate on destroying each other.
(Nuclear Arms: Positions of, 1984, p. 12) Evidence has been presented that the Soviets would have used nuclear weapons had war broken out in Europe, which tends to show that nuclear weapons during the Cold War era had a stabilizing effect on world peace. (Schneider, 2004, p. 55) This peace lasted throughout the Cold War, and illustrates how effective nuclear weapons are in establishing and prolonging a peace between two countries. Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence The question as to whether or not nuclear weapons provide a deterrence function can be investigated in many instances.
First, the more recent actions of President George W. Bush in the early 2000s demonstrates how deterrence is effective, but must be followed to strict specifications in order to fully work. For example, President Bush in 2001 adopted a policy of unilateralism when dealing with the American nuclear arsenal that would attempt to ignore all of the nuclear weapons treaties. (Hartung, 2001, p. 4) These treaties were formed in the attempt at nuclear war deterrence, and have been effective at creating a mutual destruction peace.
(Hartung, 2001, p. 4) However, President Bush attempted to destroy the peace and create an environment where nuclear weapons could be used again in the future by attempting to shift the balances throughout the world and threaten other nations. (Hartung, 2001, p. 4) These activities of President Bush indicate that nuclear weapons do promote diplomacy and deterrence, but only if provisions and agreements about their use and creation are followed. Deterrence can never be established through unilateralism.
Thomas C. Schelling, an expert on deterrence, has suggested in the face of growing unease as more countries acquire or threaten to acquire nuclear arms, he continues to believe that deterrence can be maintained and extended to cover the new players. (Garwin, Skolnikoff, Panofsky & Jeanloz, 2007, p. 5) However, Schelling rightly points out that that will not happen without policies, especially U. S. policies that demonstrate the case for continued abhorrence of their use.
(Garwin, Skolnikoff, Panofsky & Jeanloz, 2007, p. 5) Mr. Schelling also believes that education of the harms of nuclear weapons cannot be viable to countries that do not possess the technology. (Garwin, Skolnikoff, Panofsky & Jeanloz, 2007, p. 5) Schellings suggestion is that a country without nuclear weapons will be too frightened by the threat of nuclear use that they will not fully respect deterrence theories unless they too have a nuclear arsenal of some type.