The Weakness of a Ukrainian Nuclear Deterrent: Counterfactuals and the Stability-Instability Paradox

(updated below)

Since the Russian incursion in Crimea at the end of February, a meme has been circulating among some national security commentators that Ukraine should have kept the nuclear arsenal it inherited following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The most forceful proponent that Kiev would have been better off maintaining a nuclear deterrent was and is University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer. At the end of the Cold War, Mearsheimer argued in Foreign Affairs (pdf),

A nuclear Ukraine makes sense for two reasons. First, it is imperative to maintain peace between Russia and Ukraine… Ukraine cannot . . .
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Shameless Self-Promotion: Overkill Edition

Posts have been sparse as of late, but I thought I’d dust off the old blog to brag to the internets inform my loyal readers (hi dad!) about a couple of recent items stemming from the paper I co-authored for the Cato Institute with Chris Preble and Ben Friedman.

First up, Tuesday at noon I had the pleasure of speaking at a Cato policy forum on our paper, “The End of Overkill?: Reassessing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy”. The panel was moderated by Chris Preble and included myself, Ben, Dr. Hans Christensen of the Federation of American Scientists, and Elbridge . . .
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Shameless Self-Promotion: Cato Edition

[Updated Below]

As I made note of previously, blogging will be somewhat more sporadic than usual (if that’s possible) as I slog through my final year of coursework and prepare for comps next fall. That said, I always manage to find a few minutes for my all-time favorite activity: shameless self-promotion!

Today marks the release of a paper I co-authored with Christopher Preble and Benjamin Friedman of the Cato Institute on American nuclear strategy. In the paper, we argue that a smaller nuclear arsenal will not hurt U.S. security and by shifting to a submarine-based monad, instead of the . . .
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It's Still a MAD, MAD World: The Illogic of U.S.-Russian Missile Defense Cooperation

Ellen Tauscher, a former under secretary of state for arms control, and Igor Ivanov, a former Russian foreign minister, have a new essay at Foreign Policy calling for the United States and Russia to cooperate on missile defense as a means to redefine their strategic relationship. They argue that “U.S.-Russian cooperation on missile defense could fundamentally change the bilateral relationship. It would shift the paradigm of U.S.-Russian strategic relations from ensuring the ability to destroy one another to jointly protecting the two countries from common ballistic missile threats.” Tauscher and Ivanov claim that missile defense cooperation can transform relations between . . .
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Shameless Self-Promotion: Nuclear Edition

Seeing as I’ve survived completed my first year of grad school, I thought it was a good time to resurrect this long-dormant blog and engage in one of my all-time favorite activities: shameless self-promotion.

In the spring edition of Strategic Visions—the biannual newsletter of Temple University’s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy (CENFAD)—I have an extended review of two new books on nuclear weapons and international politics. The two books, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age by Frank Gavin* and Paul Bracken’s The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics, both . . .
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Max Boot Responds! And He's Still Wrong…

Earlier this week, Max Boot responded to my post from Sunday night on the differences between Israel's Iron Dome and U.S. missile defense efforts. Unfortunately Mr. Boot obscures the issue even further in his response than he did in his initial post. The new post misrepresents the history of missile defense, fails to properly address the errors in his initial post, continues to ignore the conceptual differences between Iron Dome and national missile defense, and erects a strawman argument as to the motives of those opposed to his views. Needless to say, I am less than impressed.

adobe creative . . .
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Nuclear Disarmament and Argument from Authority Writ Large

Blogging has been slightly slower than my usual prolific pace lately due mostly to the soul crushing experience that is the first year of grad school the large amount of reading one encounters in their first year of graduate study. While I try to get caught up I thought I would indulge in some shameless self-promotion. In the latest edition of Cato Journal, a public policy journal published by the Cato Institute, I have a review* of Philip Taubman’s book The Partnership: Five Former Cold Warriors and Their Quest to Ban the Bomb.

Taubman attempts to piggyback off the . . .
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Japan Won't Go Nuclear: Should We Care if it Did?

A former classmate of mine, Mira Rapp-Hooper, recently had an excellent post at The Diplomat laying out the case for why Japan is unlikely to pursue its own nuclear deterrent. Mira is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and her thoughts on matters of nuclear proliferation are always worth reading. That being said, a discussion of whether this country or that will go nuclear at some point always raises a simple question in my mind:  should the United States really care?

software computer

This question is commonly answered in the affirmative, as the general assumption seems to . . .
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Saddam, Iran, and the Stability-Instability Paradox: Can Israel's "Samson Option" Hold?

Following a post from a few months back, I was pointed in the direction of an intriguing study by Duke University’s Hal Brands and David Palkki of the National Defense University that is germane to the current debates over a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program and its implications for Israeli security (h/t Zach Novetsky).  “Saddam, Israel, and the Bomb: Nuclear Alarmism Justified?”, published last summer in International Security, is the result of countless hours pouring over documents captured after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.  The implications of Brands and Palkki’s findings for Israeli security are alarming but . . .
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Turning Down the Volume on the Iran Debate

Pundits, academics, and the mainstream media have turned the volume up to eleven on the “Bomb Iran” debate in the past two months. Much of the discussion has been healthy, indeed necessary when discussing matters of nuclear proliferation and war. But much of the reporting and opining has also been reckless fear-mongering (see Glenn Greenwald’s assessment). And most arguments for a preemptive strike are premised on the assertion that the Iranian regime will eventually pursue nuclear weapons, if it is not already.

So it is refreshing to see a few major outlets cutting through the noise and stepping back . . .
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