Can states that possess nuclear weapons better coerce adversaries than states without nuclear weapons?
In Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy, Todd S. Sechser and Matthew Fuhrmann argue that the empirical record undermines the case that nuclear weapons are a useful coercive tool. They show that states with nuclear weapons don’t have more leverage in settling territorial disputes, they don’t initiate military challenges more often, they are not more likely to escalate ongoing disputes, they are not more likely to blackmail rivals, and they are just as likely as nonnuclear states to make concessions in high-stakes confrontations.
This is not to say nuclear weapons are unimportant. They are extremely useful for deterrence. But it turns out they don’t enable states to get their way with ease.
These findings have important implications for foreign policy and our understanding of complex issues ranging from Iran and North Korea, to the prospect of conflict in the South China Sea, to America’s own approach to the world.
Please join us for this timely and provocative discussion.