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Sagan & Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons

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Sagan & Waltz, The Spread of Nuclear Weapons

Author. Waltz (1924-2013 ) Sagan (1955- )

Columbia University International Relations Professor; founder of neorealism/structural realism

Sagan: Stanford University Political Science Professor; consultant to RAND, OSD, Los Alamos


Nuclear proliferation in a post-Cold War world


Nuclear proliferation and its effects on international relations


Post World War international relations and results of slow nuclear weapons spread

Central Proposition.

  • Waltz: “More may be better” – (45) The likelihood of war decreases as deterrent and defensive capabilities increase. Nuclear weapons make wars hard to start. … the gradual spread of nuclear weapons is more to be welcomed than feared. Waltz takes a more theoretical approach than Sagan (he uses real world). Proliferation is inevitable. Believe there is enough safety /back up to prevent a accident to become a nuc war. Cold War a success in nuc deterrence. Has a nonrealistic view.
  • Sagan: “More will be worse” – (83) common biases, rigid routines, and parochial interests of military organizations will lead to deterrence failures and accidental uses of nuclear weapons despite national interests to the contrary. Org theory (mil org) will led to nuc usage…lack of civ check and balance. Cold War was like walking on thin ice, might not work again. Has a org (Mod II) view.

Other Major Propositions.

  • The chances of peace rise if states can achieve their most important ends without using force. War becomes less likely as the costs of war rise in relation to possible gains.
  • To be effective, deterrent forces … must meet three requirements … appear to be able to survive an attack … must not require early firing in response to what may be false alarms … must not be susceptible to accidental or unauthorized use.
  • (Waltz) Deterrent strategies induce caution all around and thus reduce the incidence of war\
  • (Sagan) imperfect humans inside imperfect organizations control their nuclear weapons … these organizations will someday fail to produce secure nuclear deterrence.
  • Deterrence does not depend on rationality. It depends on fear.
    • The US is not “afraid of the nuc”, but rather afraid of losing influence in a region if some gain nucs. (Iran=nuc, more secure and can led to them being more cocky)
    • Rational actors or no, from whom perspective
    • Can nuc replace “clarity” in a multipolar world?
    • Does nuc causes “second thought and limited war”?
    • Non-state actors/terrorists is the black swan

Robert Pape: Dying to Win

Author. (1960- )

Former SAASS Instructor, University of Chicago political science professor


Post-9/11, pre-Sunni Revival Iraqi morass


Investigation into root causes of suicide bombing terrorism from 1980 to present


Statistical data from every known suicide bomb attack worldwide from 1980 to 2004 (315 cases)

    • Terrorism involves use of violence by an org other than a national gov, to intimidate/frighten a tgt audience.

Central Proposition.

  • there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the world’s religions … nearly all suicide terrorist attacks … compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.
  • At bottom, suicide terrorism is a strategy for national liberation from foreign military occupation by a democratic state.
  • Terrorism, an ill defined problem, which can lead to using the wrong medicine. Interaction with state vs a no-state actor is distinctly different.
  • Terrorism as a mean to an end. The US exceptionalism, we have the gov/pol/eco system…why don’t you guys want it?

Other Major Propositions.

  • Modern suicide terrorist groups … are weaker than their opponents … are broadly supported by a distinct national community … have a close bond of loyalty to comrades … have a system of initiation and rituals ... are independent actors who rarely follow the dictates of others blindly
  • Suicide is the weaker part coercing a stronger one, and the only means they see is suicide
  • Punishment with conv. weapons is not suited/strong enough to deter terror.
  • We have to stop current activity, and stop new recruitments.
  • Was the US stationing in SA and ME the start (1990’s)? And not directed at Western way of living?
  • Suicide terrorism is most likely when the occupying power’s religion differs from the religion of the occupied, for three reasons … fears that the enemy will seek to transform the occupied society; makes demonization … easier; and makes it easier … to reliable suicides … as martyrdom
  • Democracies are often thought to be especially vulnerable to coercive punishment … suicide terrorism is a tool of the weak … they must also be confident that their opponent will be at least somewhat restrained. … although recent scholarship casts strong doubt on the presumption that democracies are generally more restrained than authoritarian states.
  • All about interests, maintaining US hegemony.
  • Under the condition of foreign occupation, religious difference—more than Islam or any other particular religion—hardens the boundaries betweennational communities
  • Al-Qaeda’s … a coalition of nationalist groups seeking to achieve a local change in their home countries, not as a truly transnational movement seeking to spread Islam
  • Absent the altruistic motive, many suicide attacks would probably not occur and many suicide attackers might well seek other opportunities to contribute to their community.
  • American military presence remains the pivotal factor driving al-Qaeda’s suicide terrorists
  • The United States has powerful economic and diplomatic tools to manage the local balance or power, while removal of American combat forces from the region is likely to diminish the main source of instability to the Saudi regime. Further, American naval power would remain a formidable military instrument for influence in the region, should immediate uses of power prove necessary. Above all, a return to off-shore balancing (stay physically out of Middle East, have all on keel) will send an unmistakable signal that the United States is not in the business of empire, and will thus suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere that breeds anti-American suicide terrorism. Would this help on the Israel problem? No.

Roberta Wohlstetter, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision

Author & Context

Roberta Wohlstetter, (August 22, 1912- January 6, 2007), was one of America's most important historians of military intelligence. Her most influential work is Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision. The former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is said to have required that his aides read it. Indeed, it was brought during discussions of intelligence failures leading to the successful al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.


This classic study of military intelligence attempts to explain the causes of the U.S. intelligence failures that led to Imperial Japan's 1941 surprise attack. In the years preceding the attack, U.S. code breakers were routinely reading much of the Japanese military and diplomatic traffic. However, a Japanese attack came as both a strategic and tactical surprise. On the strategic level, U.S. intelligence analysts viewed the attack as unlikely because Japan could not expect to win the subsequent war (as it happens, Japanese planners had never completed a thorough strategic assessment. They were unwilling to abandon their expansion in east Asia and viewed the attack as the best way to start the inevitable confrontation). Furthermore, on several occasions during 1940-41 U.S. forces were put on high alert but no attack came, leading to fatigue. Finally, it was believed that the logical place for a Japanese attack would be in the Philippines. The book argues, in part, that intelligence failures are to be expected because of the difficulty identifying "signals" from the background "noise" of raw facts, regardless of the quantity of the latter.

On a tactical level, the attack came as a surprise because warning mechanisms - radar stations and patrol planes - were not deployed, although senior officers came to believe that they were.


  • Even with signals, the leap of inference is the hard part
  • Not lack of info, rather a a misuse/misperception and failure to see the big picture
  • Bickering between Air Corps and Signal Corps over radar (Model 2/Model 3)
  • Time for information to relay…both tactically and strategically
  • USN and USA intel commanders on Hawaii did not have a good relationship
  • Lack of collaboration
  • War warning memo assumed attack in Philippines, put peoples minds and focus there.
  • Radio silence prevents reporting of strange ship
  • Belief that 10 minutes warning would always be available
  • Belief that the fleet presence would deter Japan and failure to remove it because it would look like appeasement
  • Unprotected COG based on misunderstanding the enemy
  • Army’s failure to see links between economic and diplomatic events
  • Churchill belief that America would not be attacked until after Russia
  • Lots of information: how to package and communicate it from Washington to theater
  • Turner believed Kimmel and Short were in lockstep and that press coverage was good in Honolulu…not so
  • Inference/analysis will always be hazardous and noise-filled
  • Washington had all the info, but the theaters had the expertise. The link between them was impractical. Everyone believed the Pac Fleet was a deterrent rather than a vulnerability
  • Should have prepared for most dangerous (Attack at PH), any other attack/area would have ensured the fleet was still available.
  • MOD II and III are prevalent. The systemic filters and behavior forces the perception and action towards what happened.
  • C2 issues, personnel issues between army, navy and gen officers. Totally not a good situation but still with the best system/personnel in place there might still be a PH attack.

Applications to Strategy

  • Signals and Noise. There are structural, organizational, and individual contributors to the failure to arrest surprise. Examine organizations, leaders, and collective mentality (paradigm) for tendencies that can allow signals to go unnoticed
  • Expect the Unexpected. Strategists should always have plans to address the most likely branches, but should at least consider the most significant but less likely; occasionally evaluate the strategy using the question: “what is the unthinkable surprise that could defeat this strategy?”
  • Uncertainty. Strive to minimize it while acknowledging its ubiquity.

Robert Gilpin, Global Political Economy


Economist famous for his prior work on post cold war economics. Considers this book complementary and more focused on theory and international political economy. Attempts to overcome previous book’s weakness in underplaying domestic dimension. Written pre-2003 invasion of Iraq, but after China joined WTO (99) - China’s GDP has since doubled. Book takes an acknowledged realist approach with a state level of analysis (p4). He is an advocate for free trade. Thesis:

Economy can’t be examined in isolation, but along with political analysis in “Political Economy.” National policies and domestic economies remain the most critical determinants of economic affairs (the state remains ultimate arbitrator). Globalization, economic regionalism, multinational corporations (MNC), foreign direct investment (FDI) are growing influences. Note MNC & FDI chapters were not assigned.


Economics – a universal science of decision making under conditions of constraint and scarcity

Economic regionalism – individual states in a geographic region collectively promoting vital Nat’l interest


Gilpin pits alternative approaches to int’l economy against each other throughout the book.

1. The behavior of a nation’s trading partner doesn’t affect our deficit/surplus –it’s domestically defined (203)

2. Trade relations are a prisoner’s dilemma & require unambiguous rules to forestall conflict (219)

2.1. These rules were provided by GATT, now WTO – lower barriers, provide reciprocity

3. Purpose of int’l economy requires agreement and governance – there is none in an anarchic state system

3.1. Monetary system (234) – facilitate transactions in “real” economy (trade, manufacturing)
3.2. Financial system (234) – provide investment capital required for economic activities
3.3. Purpose was to strengthen anti-soviet economies and enforce political unity of US and allies
3.4. Purpose is now debated and undefined (think large group dynamics from Olson reading)

Free Market – policy of strong

Protectionism – policy of weak/vulnerable

Optimize usage of scarce resources

Inefficient or inappropriate usage of resources

Increased competition/innovation

Protects stagnant non-competitive industries

Increased national & global wealth

Slower increase of national & global wealth

Low prices, profit, higher standard of living

Higher prices, less profit, lower standard of living

Stunts or kills emerging businesses

Protects infant industries

State vulnerable to international market changes

Protect norms/values, social & political system

Threatens jobs, wages, social welfare

Protects jobs, wages, social welfare

Implications for Strategy (How does political economy effect security?)

1. Build interdependencies to reduce chance of war (too costly – may have opposite effect due to dependency)

1.1. Think China - can we afford to go to war with primary trading partner & buyer of US debt?

2. Politically sensitive matters are introduced into economics & spark conflict: labor standards, human rights

3. Four themes (Pg22/3):

3.1. Int’l policy & security sets framework – economy operates within it
3.2. Domestic and int’l economies generate wealth, which is distributed unevenly
3.3. Int’l imbalance causes states to redefine state interests and foreign policies
3.4. Changes may undermine stability of framework and/or lead to international conflict

Economic sanctions lie somewhere between war and appeasement in terms of a continuum of "toughness"-and hence are open to attack from both "hardliners" and "soft liners-he notes prescriptively that "techniques that enable policy makers to demonstrate firmness while reassuring others of their sense of proportion and restraint can be highly useful, especially to nuclear powers" (p. 105). In addition, in citing the desirability of using economic statecraft as a means of registering approval or disapproval, Baldwin notes that "economic techniques usually cost more than propaganda or diplomacy and thus tend to have more inherent credibility. Military techniques, of course, usually entail higher costs and even more credibility, but their costs may be too high" (p. 107) Baldwin concludes that "compared to other techniques of statecraft, economic measures are likely to exert more pressure than either diplomacy or propaganda and are less likely to evoke a violent response than military instruments." Hence, "they are not merely inferior substitutes for force but first-best policy alternatives" (p. 110).

Understanding political economy is critical because the United States typically uses either military forces or economic statecraft to achieve foreign policy objectives.


*Current era of financial globalization “where there’s a new financial crisis every leap year”


*Defining a more nuanced and coherent foreign policy based on sound financial principles


*Analysis of modern (20th century) financial crises

Central Proposition.

*141 – Economic judgments must be made in the context of clearly articulated political priorities, and political judgments must be informed by an understanding of the likely consequences of pursuing or withholding economic intervention.

  • Financial Statecraft; activity to influence capital flow, and influence others associated with finance (capital focuses) while economic statecraft is more trade/goods oriented (lower level?)

Other Major Propositions.

*SEC access materiality on the basis of its relevance to investor financial interests. The SEC’s role is not to advise investors about what is good for them—let alone what might be good for the United States—or even to educate investors regarding ethical, religious, or foreign policy matters which may attach to doing business overseas.

  • Unilateral measures will lead to foreign companies diverting their investment away from the U.S.
  • We believe the time is ripe, economically and politically, for the global denationalization of money. … Fewer monies would lead to greatly increased trade, financial integration, productivity, and real incomes.
  • As critical as American military power may be … the soft power projected through … free economic exchange among people is eminently more effective and reliable over the long term. And there is no greater threat to this soft power than a sense … that such norms serve to enrich America at their expense.
  • Essential to infuse the foreign and security policy apparatus—State, Defense, and the NSC—with generalized expertise on the economics of currency crises

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