OEN member and friend Ward Wilson has been honored with an award. His essay "The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence" has been selected as the winner of the Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Challenge Essay Contest. You can read the official press release here.
The contest had entries from a dozen countries and twenty-four states. The essays will be published in The Nonproliferation Review in the November issue and will be presented at an event in Washington, DC. The contest winner also gets a $10,000.00 prize.
See an article published on OEN that's on a similar subject, here:
Here’s the beginning of the award winning article:
Did nuclear deterrence “keep us safe” for sixty years during the Cold War? Does it, in other words, work? For those who already have nuclear weapons, does nuclear deterrence justify their keeping them? For those who do not have nuclear weapons, do the benefits of nuclear deterrence justify attempts to acquire them? These questions matter because nuclear weapons remain dangerous and powerful weapons that appear to be slowly but steadily spreading.- Advertisement -
The conventional wisdom holds that nuclear deterrence – the threat of a nuclear attack in order to dissuade – provides those who possess nuclear weapons with three important benefits: 1) protection against attacks with nuclear weapons, 2) protection against attacks with conventional forces, and 3) an indefinable additional diplomatic clout. If the conventional wisdom is true, it is both a powerful argument against nuclear disarmament and a considerable obstacle to those who wish to prevent proliferation.
There are reasons, however, for doubting the conventional wisdom. Closer inspection calls the fundamental soundness of nuclear deterrence theory into question. Nuclear deterrence relies on the threat to inflict great harm with nuclear weapons. “Inflicting great harm” is usually presumed to mean attacks on cities. Classical deterrence theory (that is, deterrence prior to World War II), however, defines deterrence as a threat of war. It is natural to presume that attacks against cities are a part of war. However the historical record shows that attacks against cities have little impact on the course of wars, and that defining them as threats of war is at best problematic. City attacks are better understood as terror attacks. Nuclear deterrence is best understood, therefore, as the threat of terrorism on a grand scale, not as classical deterrence that employs a threat of war. Attempts to evaluate it based on historical examples of deterrence with military force promote a fundamental confusion about the nature of nuclear deterrence and are unlikely to accurately predict its success. Unlike military threats, there is strong evidence that threats or attacks aimed at civilians almost never work.