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Review: Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy

August 22, 2017 – CSPS Student Fellow Joe Petrucelli reviews Todd Sechser and Matthew Fuhrmann’s book questioning the coercive value of nuclear armament in this piece originally published by Air University Press’ Strategic Studies Quarterly.

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“Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy”

“Examining the historical record quantitatively, Sechser and Fuhrman look at the effectiveness of compellent threats by nuclear and nonnuclear states. Through their analysis, they determine that nuclear states have no better success rate than nonnuclear states in issuing successful compellent threats or in territorial negotiations. While their quantitative analysis shows that nuclear states do not have a better success rate than nonnuclear states in coercive diplomacy, their first set of analyses does not directly measure the success rate of nuclear threats.  To account for this, Sechser and Fuhrmann conducted a detailed analysis of the 19 cases of explicit nuclear threats throughout the nuclear era, ranging from nuclear alerts to overt nuclear threats. Again, they find success in only 10 of the 19 cases studied which, although higher than the success rate for general compellent threats, does not demonstrate much coercive advantage for nuclear weapons.”



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