17 décBenoît Pelopidas (MCNS), « The Nuclear Alternative and its Effects », Tuesday January 11th, 2011

The Nuclear Alternative and its Effects.
What It Takes to Read Nuclear History as an Alternative between Proliferation and Extended Deterrence

Benoît Pelopidas (James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies)

Within IR theory, the literature on deterrence, the one dealing with proliferation and finally the one dealing with disarmament are intuitively connected but this link is rarely stated clearly or explicitly. I posit here that “extended nuclear deterrence” is an interesting starting point to examine this nexus. Extended nuclear deterrence plays an important role in the narrative of the Cold War as nuclear peace. This paper will argue it is also a cornerstone of the narrative of nuclear history as proliferation history through what I label the “nuclear alternative” and will assess this alternative. The nuclear alternative can be stated as follows: either a protector provides a nuclear security guarantee to its ally/ies or it/they will get his/their own nuclear weapons. First, the paper will provide an assessment of extended deterrence as a non-proliferation tool based on comparative case studies, showing that it has neither been a necessary nor a sufficient condition for nonproliferation, which invalidates the notion of nuclear alternative. Second, using sociology of knowledge, it will analyze the “good reasons” (Boudon) to believe in such an alternative and debunks their implicit and faulty assumptions. The credibility problem emphasized in the literature on deterrence will therefore not appear as the only reason why the alternative is not valid. Third, the paper will expose the contemporary effects of such a view of history on the possibility of downsizing the US nuclear arsenal and on what is considered as proliferation.

CERI 5 – 7pm

Discussant: Richard Beardsworth

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