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How Many Nukes Does it Take?

Most scholars and policymakers favor stemming the tide of nuclear proliferation, even as they acknowledge the pacifying effects of established nuclear arsenals on great power relations. When it comes to nuclear arsenals, how robust must a country's nuclear arsenal be--how much is enough? Some of the key variables in existing studies - e.g., the nuclear "balance of power" - have been poorly conceived, and the data used to measure the nuclear balance and its effect on policy has come from suspect sources. High quality declassified evidence began to percolate just as the Cold War ended and analysts turned their attention to seemingly more important topics. With an eye toward future potential problems in the U.S.-China relationship, Keir Lieber and Daryl Press will evaluate four major schools of deterrence theory with some of the newly available evidence from the Cold War. Their preliminary findings indicate that we should not be complacent about the deterrent effects of the short-to-medium term nuclear balance between the U.S. and China.
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