Too often, our focus on the relative handful of countries with
nuclear weapons keeps us from asking an important question: Why do
so many more states not have such weapons? More important, what can
we learn from these examples of nuclear restraint? Maria Rost
Rublee argues that in addition to understanding a state's security
environment, we must appreciate the social forces that influence
how states conceptualize the value of nuclear weapons. Much of what
Rublee says also applies to other weapons of mass destruction, as
well as national security decision making in general.
The nuclear nonproliferation movement has created an
international social environment that exerts a variety of normative
pressures on how state elites and policymakers think about nuclear
weapons. Within a social psychology framework, Rublee examines
decision making about nuclear weapons in five case studies: Japan,
Egypt, Libya, Sweden, and Germany.
In each case, Rublee considers the extent to which nuclear
forbearance resulted from persuasion (genuine transformation of
preferences), social conformity (the desire to maximize social
benefits and/or minimize social costs, without a change in
underlying preferences), or identification (the desire or habit of
following the actions of an important other).
The book offers bold policy prescriptions based on a sharpened
knowledge of the many ways we transmit and process nonproliferation
norms. The social mechanisms that encourage nonproliferation-and
the regime that created them-must be preserved and strengthened,
Rublee argues, for without them states that have exercised nuclear
restraint may rethink their choices.
Subjects: Political Science, History
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