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Editors’Note In recent years rational choice theory has experienced a surge in popularity among political scientists. Its usefulness, however, remains highly controversial. Stephen Walt of the University of Chicago argues that the outcome of this debate uiill have deep and long-lasting consequencesfor scholarly discourse. Given that the stakes are so high, Walt contends that if rational choice theory is to achieve general acceptance, it must be “precise, logically consistent,original, and empirically valid.” Applying these criteria to several prominent formal theory works in security studies, Walt concludes that in general rational choice methods fail to ofer new insights into the study of security issues. Thomas Christensen of MIT suggests that the pessimists are right to be concerned about potential instability in East Asia in the coming decades. Given China’s deep sensitivity to almost any change in the U.S.-Japan alliance-for example, encouraging Japan to assume a greater burden-sharing role in the region or engaging injoint theater missile defense researchwith the United States-Christensen contends that the United States faces a formidable challenge in reassuring Japan of its commitment to the alliance while addressing the concerns of Japan’s neighbors that Japan will not pose a threat to regional stability. Robert Ross of Boston College reachesa more optimistic conclusion about thefuture of East Asian security. He focuses on the role of geography and structure in maintaining the current East Asian balance of power into the twenty-first century. Ross argues that U.S.-China bipolarity in the region will continue for at leasf the next quarter century. Although the two states may challenge each other in the future, the combination of “regional balancing trends, interests conditioned by geography, and the mitigating influence of geography on the security dilemma” bodes well for regional stability and relative peace in the decades to come. In the wake of the Cold War,much concern has been expressed over the tremendous growth in the international arms trade. Christopher Parker of the University of Chicago seeks to clarify the consequences of increased arms sales to developing countries . Parker maintains that the critical issue is not the quantity of modern conventional weapons and technology transfers, but the ability of states to assimilate them effectively into their arsenals. May 1998 signaled a major turning point in the nuclear arms race in South Asia. Sumit Ganguly of the City University of New York cites three factors that combined International Security, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Spring 19991,pp. 3 4 01999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 3 International Security 23:4 1 4 in setting the stage for India’s decision to detonate five nuclear devices on May 11and 13: political choices made over the last fifty years, reflecting a mix of ideological and pragmatic concerns; a long-held desire by influential members of the Indian scientific establishment to make India a nuclear weapons state; and an increasing perception of threat fromChina and Pakistan as well as the lack of security guarantees. Samina Ahmed of Harvard Universityexamines Pakistan’s motivationsfor responding to the Indian tests with its own series of tests on May 28 and 30. Ahmed begins by tracing the history of the Pakistani nuclear program. She then assesses the consequences of testing-in particular, the devastating impact of sanctions on the Pakistani economy4nd details Islamabad‘s three-pronged strategy for the future of its nuclear weapons program. With this issue we note the departure of Michael Brown as managing editor of International Security. Mike has left Harvard to assume a position on the faculty of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Georgetown’s gain is very much our loss. Mike has been a great colleague and an excellent managing editor, handling our large flow of manuscripts efficiently and effectively; working actively to ensure that the journal remains interesting, diverse, and relevant; and bringing to our deliberations panache and wit. Mike’s daily presence among us is sorely missed by all his editorial colleagues.Fortunately, Mike has agreed to remain with the journal as an editor, a role he can perform from his new professional home at Georgetown. Our colleague Sean Lynn-Jones has...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1531-4804
Print ISSN
0162-2889
Pages
pp. 3-4
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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