The Challenge of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries

The Challenge of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 78
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  • Book Info
    The Challenge of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries
    Book Description:

    Deterrence of nuclear use through the threat of retaliation could be highly problematic in many plausible conflict scenarios with nuclear-armed regional adversaries. This could compel U.S. leaders to temper their military and political objectives if they come into conflict with these states. This book examines the reasons behind this important shift in the international security environment and its strategic and force planning implications.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4591-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    A defining feature of the post–Cold War international security environment has been that the United States, acting either alone or with allies and coalition partners, possessed the capability to impose its will on states, such as Serbia and Iraq under Saddam Hussein, that could be termedregional adversaries. We define this term to mean countries (1) that pursue policies that are at odds with the interests of the United States and its security partners and that run counter to broadly accepted norms of state behavior and (2) whose size and military forces are not of the first magnitude.¹ The...

  10. CHAPTER TWO The Uniquely Destructive Capabilities of Nuclear Weapons
    (pp. 5-14)

    The fact that nuclear weapons are highly destructive will not come as news to any reader of this book. Therefore, it may seem unnecessary to begin our assessment with a review of the physical effects of nuclear weapons. But any serious consideration of the strategic and operational implications of these weapons should begin with an appreciation for their physical effects. For decisionmakers contemplating the merits and risks of prosecuting attacks on a regional adversary, it will matter whether that adversary’s threatened retaliation might kill 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 people.

    This chapter, then, briefly describes what happens when a nuclear weapon...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Characteristics of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries
    (pp. 15-30)

    What makes nuclear-armed regional adversaries distinctive from other state adversaries? We begin to address this question by considering the motivations for regional adversaries’ pursuit of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons may be seen as serving a number of purposes. Iran, for example, is thought to be pursuing them for a combination of reasons:¹

    to deter military threats or attacks by the United States and, perhaps, others

    to redress its military inferiority vis-à-vis Israel, Pakistan, India, and Russia—neighboring states that have nuclear weapons

    to enhance national prestige and influence

    to shore up domestic political support

    to ensure the survival of the...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Strategies and Actions of Nuclear-Armed Regional Adversaries
    (pp. 31-46)

    Estimating how a nuclear-armed regional adversary might act under different circumstances is important for determining the types of capabilities that U.S. forces should have in such circumstances. It is also, inescapably, largely a matter of conjecture. One can work to understand specific adversaries’ objectives, strategies, and perspectives by examining their pronouncements and past actions. One can also look to history for some insights about how other nations behaved in similar situations. And through gaming exercises, one can explore the dynamics of potential crises and conflicts involving specific adversaries in future settings.¹ But in the end, analysts must acknowledge their inability...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Implications for U.S. Military Strategy, Operations, and Planning
    (pp. 47-56)

    None of the analysis laid out here suggests that regional adversaries will be spoiling for a fight with their neighbors or with the United States once they acquire a nuclear arsenal. Considering the sort of conflict described in Chapter Four, no one would argue that a rational leader would seek to run the sorts of risks that would be associated with trying to terminate the conflict through threats of escalation. So the military superiority that the United States enjoys in both conventional and nuclear forces will remain valuable as a deterrent to aggression. Nevertheless, as long as adversary states pursue...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 57-62)