AFRI Researcg Paper 2009-4, Challenging Nuclear Abolition
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Tough choices regarding defense spending and national security strategy are likely to come in 2009 and 2010, and may significantly affect nuclear weapons policy. Although the president’s efforts to develop a “new New Deal” may overshadow shifts in nuclear weapons policy, the president may oversee an unprecedented change in the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons and the policy governing their use.
“Modernizers” and “abolitionists” will attempt to influence President Obama’s nuclear weapons policy. Modernizers believe that the United States must develop a new warhead and advanced delivery platforms if the nation wishes to maintain the most advanced and secure nuclear arsenal in the world. Abolitionists see an opportunity to oversee substantial reductions in the number of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems.
This paper takes a critical look at the fundamental arguments offered by abolitionists and conclude that the rationale offered, while admirable, is utopian and makes predictions about human behavior that are not supported by historical example or logic, which must be relied on when examining nuclear deterrence.