Nuclear crises and strategic stability


Dans le cadre du séminaire de la Chaire d’excellence en études de sécurité

How to Think about Nuclear Crises
Mark Bell, University of Minnesota, and Julia Macdonald, University of Denver

Abstract: How dangerous are nuclear crises? What dynamics underpin how they unfold? Recent tensions between North Korea and the United States have exposed profound disagreement among scholars and analysts.We reconcile these apparently contradictory views by showing the circumstances in which different models of nuclear crises should be expected to hold. Nuclear crises should be expected to have very different dynamics depending on two variables: the incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis, and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved. Variation across these two dimensions generate four distinct models of nuclear crises, which we label as the “staircase” model; the “stability-instability” model; the “brinkmanship” model; and the “firestorm” model. These models correspond to well-established ways of thinking about nuclear weapons, but no one model of nuclear crises is “correct.” Different models should be expected to apply in different cases, and we should interpret nuclear crises very differently according to which model is most appropriate. We demonstrate the utility of our framework using the cases of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, 1999 Kargil War, and ongoing U.S.-North Korea tensions.

Strategic Stability in Two Nuclear Posture Reviews
Professor Sharon K. Weiner, American University, Washington D.C. member of the advisory board of the chair of excellence in security studies.

Abstract: Deterrence is an ambiguous guide for translating presidential guidance into nuclear force structure and strategy. Although claims are made that these choices are linked to national security needs and threats, I bring in the context of bureaucratic structure. Using the 2010 Obama Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the 2018 Trump NPR as case studies, I show how both NPRs claim to justify essentially the same nuclear modernization plan, but this plan has significantly different consequences for strategic stability when seen within the bureaucratic and organizational contexts that will implement it under Trump.

Discutants: The two discussants will discuss each other's papers

Responsable scientifique : Benoît Pelopidas, Sciences Po-CERI.

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