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Flashcards in Session 8 Deck (19):
1

What was the impact of nuclear weapons in the post-war international system?

i. Follow immense destruction of WWII (war as obsolete? War as normal state of affairs?)
1. No awareness of how powerful the bomb was? Or was war obsolete and therefore it was not different?
2. Why Truman decided to use the atomic bomb against Japan?
ii. Have a unique destructive potential (scientists first to understand it)
1. Someone did understand the difference of nuclear weapons
2. Scientists pushed for international control from early one, pressure on policy makers
a. Robert J. Oppenheimer
i. “In some sort of crude sense, which no vulgarity, no humor, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.”
iii. Post-Clausewitzian arms: politics unable to control them

2

What were the possible definitions of the meaning and implications of nuclear weapons? What are nuclear weapons for?

a. Symbolic Value (Power)
i. Nuclear Weapons are “symbols of national power”
b. Attempt to normalize/rationalize them
i. “to have an advantage at the utmost level of violence helps play at every lesser level” – Paul Nitze, 1976
1. Political, diplomatically “spendable”
2. Used to justify the arms race
3. Guarantee peace by making war to destructive to contemplate
c. Effort to justify political/strategic relevance of nuclear superiority
d. Effort to magnify their stabilizing power (paradox: non-used defined their significance)
e. Fear of proliferation
f. Invitations to ban them
i. SANE & CND

3

What was the impact of nuclear weapons on the Cold War?

a. The Early Years
i. Still “normal” weapon (legacy of war)
ii. Soviet crash program
1. Recruiting young spies from Cambridge
iii. “Diplomatic” tool – leverage
iv. Surrogate of war and symbolic importance
v. Greater confidence of the United States (military commitments)
1. Nuclear monopoly
2. Long range missiles
3. Difference between strategic and tactile weapons
vi. Soviet fears: US unquestioned nuclear superiority

4

Why was the United States clearly superior in the “nuclear realm”?

a. US Nuclear Arsenal
i. Monopolistic (up to 1949)
ii. Unassailable (early 60s: “first-strike capability”)
1. Could destroy the entire nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union
iii. Always superior (size & technology)
1. US nuclear stockpile increased exponentially
2. Soviet Union was only able to catch up in the late 60s
3. US Nuclear Triad
a. Land-based missiles (ICBMS, cruise missiles)
b. Nuclear submarines (SSBNS)
c. Strategic bombers (B-1 and B-52)

5

What was the significance of the US nuclear arsenal for the European allies of the US?

a. To balance Soviet Conventional superiority
b. To protect/defend Europe
c. European willingness to host nuclear weapons on its territory (national differences

6

What were the dilemmas posed by the US nuclear arsenal to the European allies of the US?

a. Issue of credibility (first strike)
b. What happens when the USSR is able to retaliate?
i. Able to respond to an American nuclear attack
ii. Would the US risk a conflict with the Soviet Union to protect other countries?
c. Becomes question of national prestige

7

What was the impact of the Korean war on the nuclear arms race?

a. Not provoked by first Soviet test
b. Reveal paradoxes of nuclear weapons (symbolic/psychological more than military value)
c. Other use in Asia?
d. US: pressures for rearmament and even “nuclearize” West Germany
e. Race to hydrogen bomb

8

What was the peculiar position of the Eisenhower administration (1953-1961)?

a. A policy of boldness vs. Timidity of Truman
i. “the taboo which surrounds the use of atomic weapons would have to be destroyed”
b. Massive retaliation (asymmetrical strategy: cheap & proactive): Ike as fiscally conservative
c. Willingness to “nuclearize” the FRG Strategic importance of IRBM and MRBM
d. Possibility of joint control of nuclear arms in Europe
e. Intention to partially disengage from Europe

9

What was the position of the European allies of the United States?

a. Western Europe and Nuclear Arms
i. Ambivalence (necessary vs. USSR; acceptance of nuclear war in Europe; US dominance)
ii. Vital question: credibility US nuclear guarantee (when USSR can retaliate?)
iii. Versus “nuclearization” of FRG
iv. Some accept US nuclear weapons on their territory (UK, Italy, and Turkey)

10

Why the position of France was different?

a. Versus UK/US special relationship (1957: proposal of a tri-party directorate on NATO nuclear strategy)
b. Questions credibility of US commitment
c. Rejects dependence from US (national sovereignty)
d. National prestige/grandeur
e. Starts independent nuclear program (1956)
i. “no country without an atom bomb could properly consider itself independent” –CDG

11

What critiques were moved to the Eisenhower massive retaliation?

a. Attacked for alleged military weakness (missile gap)
b. Sputnik shock
i. Sputnik as a “defeat more important and greater than Pearl Harbor”
ii. Failure of Vanguard – 1957
c. Nuclear fears: nuclear tests and fallout
i. Castle Bravo Test, 1954
1. H-bomb tested in the Pacific Ocean
a. A group of Japanese fishermen were not far away
b. Discovered that tuna fish eaten in Japan had been contaminated through US tests
c. Led to the creation of Godzilla
d. Nuclearization of West Germany & destabilization of Europe

12

What are the limits of Eisenhower’s strategy of massive retaliation?

a. Ike’s “Massive Retaliation”
i. Credibility? Rigidity? Danger?
ii. Threatening nuclear war over two tiny islands on the Chinese coast
1. Seemed there were no ways in-between

13

What changed with the Kennedy administration?

a. Kennedy’s “Flexible Response”
i. Symmetrical strategy (vs. rigidity of massive retaliation)
ii. Nuclear arms as just one component of a more complex defense panoply
iii. Less interested and willing in delegating responsibilities to allies + Fiscally liberal
iv. Non-nuclear West Germany as part of diplomatic solution for Europe

14

Why from the mid-1960s did the two superpowers begin to negotiate a control of the arms race?

a. Fear of accidental war and impact of Cuban missile crisis of 1962
b. Excessive influence of military-industrial complexes
c. Soviet quasi-parity
d. Grassroot mobilization (nuclear fallout)
e. Greater awareness of possible destruction in case of war
f. Strategic interdependence & preservation of hierarchy in the international system
g. Risk of proliferation and “nuclear anarchy”: fear of Chinese and West German nuclear arsenals

15

Which were the main achievements of this “nuclear” diplomacy?

- Test Ban Treaty (1963), Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968), Salt & ABM Treaty

16

Test Ban Treaty (1963)

1. Prohibited nuclear experiments in the atmosphere
a. Although not underground
b. Made way more complicated and expensive to test and develop
c. Not signed by China or France – soon nuclear powers to be

17

Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968)

1. Only 5 nuclear weapon states
a. US, Soviet Union, UK, China, France
2. Their commitment to reduce arsenals, not transfer technology
3. Recognizes right to peaceful use of nuclear technology
4. We now have 9 – Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea

18

Salt and ABM Treaty

1. Interim agreement:
a. USSR – 1618 ICBMs, 740 SLBMs
b. US: 1054 ICBMs; 656 SLBMs (but Mirv + bombers)
c. ABM Treaty (two defensive sites, then reduced to one: Moscow and Grand Forks Air Base, ND)
d. Immensely unpopular within the US

19

Successes and Limits of Nuclear Diplomacy and Non-Proliferation

i. Containment of proliferation
ii. Reduction of nuclear weapons
iii. Problem of second-strike (main driver of arms race)
iv. Greater US commitments
v. Disappearance of nuclear fear & complacency
c. Still a bi-polar nuclear world: US & Soviet Union