Nuclear Deterrence Melts Down: The Limits of Deterrence & Alternative Paths to Peace

This paper analyzes historical and contemporary discourse surrounding nuclear weapons as a means of deterrence. Beginning with a discussion of contemporary and historical trends, we highlight six broad categories of problems related to nuclear deterrence—instability, knowledge problems, political pathologies, imperfections in command and control, unclear causality, and ethical concerns. We conclude by discussing alternatives to the status quo, including the adoption of “No First Use” policies, pauses in production, and disarmament.

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