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International Security 27.4 (2003) 3-4

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Editor's Note

Many commentators wonder whether China is a status quo power that will continue to comply with regional and international norms or whether it is a revisionist power increasingly willing to challenge U.S. hegemony. Iain Johnston of Harvard University responds to the growing chorus of skeptics who contend that China is becoming a greater source of instability and offers evidence of Chinese behavior that, in some cases, suggests a more status quo orientation. Johnston bases this conclusion on a set of indicators he uses to assess recent trends in China's foreign policy.

How successfully has international relations theory captured the post-Cold War Asian experience? David Kang of Dartmouth College argues that Western scholars are "getting Asia wrong." The region has not witnessed the emergence of arms racing and power politics that many analysts have predicted. In addition, Asian states do not seem to be balancing against a rising China; rather they appear to be bandwagoning. Kang asserts that scholars can no longer rely so overwhelmingly on European history to understand the international politics of Asia in the twenty-first century.

Robert Powell of the University of California at Berkeley uses nuclear deterrence theory to address three major concerns involving nuclear proliferation and national missile defense (NMD): How might the spread of nuclear weapons affect the ability of the United States to achieve its foreign policy objectives? Can a national missile defense protect against nuclear blackmail by a rogue state? What are the likely political and economic costs to the United States of pursuing NMD? Powell warns that although "NMD would give the United States somewhat more freedom of action and make a rogue state more likely to back down in a crisis," it could also increase the risk of a nuclear attack on the United States. This heightened risk, says Powell, would be "a direct consequence of a greater U.S. willingness to press its interests harder in a crisis" once it has missile defenses.

Dinshaw Mistry of the University of Cincinnati assesses the record of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation in limiting missile proliferation. Mistry maintains that although the MTCR and the Code of Conduct may temporarily reduce a state's determination to build ballistic missiles, they cannot prevent their ultimate development. In addition to offering qualified support for missile defenses and preemptive military strikes, Mistry proposes five measures to strengthen the MTCR and Code of Conduct: space service initiatives, regional missile-free zones, global intermediate-range missile bans, flight-test bans, and verification mechanisms. [End Page 3]

Recently declassified documents reveal that in October 1969, President Richard Nixon ordered the U.S. military to go on nuclear alert. Nixon's decision to test his "madman theory" was meant to signal to leaders in Moscow and Hanoi his willingness to do whatever was necessary to end the war in Vietnam. Scott Sagan of Stanford University and Jeremi Suri of the University of Wisconsin investigate the implications of Nixon's order for the dynamics of nuclear weapons decisionmaking and diplomacy. According to Sagan and Suri, "The October 1969 global nuclear readiness operation produced the worst of all worlds." Not only was the nuclear alert ineffective; it was also dangerous. The authors conclude that the possibility that new nuclear states may similarly seek to exploit their nuclear weapons arsenals to achieve political objectives underscores the importance of adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Kevin Narizny, a 2002-03 fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, argues that domestic politics can play a significant role in shaping national security interests and alliance decisions. To illustrate the impact of domestic politics on national security, Narizny traces the British government's alignment decisions in Europe before World Wars I and II. According to his findings, Britain's "diplomatic alignments were upended nearly every time a new government came to power, even when its external environment remained unchanged." The reason, explains Narizny, lies in the widely divergent views Britain's Conservative and Liberal Parties held for what...


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