Realists argue that once nuclear weapons entered into the equation

Realists argue that once nuclear weapons entered into the equation

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Realists argue that once nuclear weapons entered into the equation, the balance of power was replaced by a balance of terror – the ability of either side to threaten the use of nuclear weapons fundamentally alters the relationship between actors. Thus, unlike in a traditional balance of power system, war becomes an unacceptable option. As a result, the Cold War expanded beyond Europe and took on a global character. The issue during the Cold War became the credibility of threat – each side had to present a credible threat that it would be willing to use nuclear weapons in order to protect its interests. The conflict between the US and USSR turned into tests of the opponent’s resolve to defend specific commitments and interests in the world. Played out as a series of crises, where the threat of force replaced the actual use of force – however, in each crisis, the potential for war existed, and each side had to project a credible threat to escalate to nuclear war in order to maintain the balance of terror.
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Unformatted text preview: 2. Deterrence: posits that war can be avoided through the threat of the use of force. Possible aggression by another state will not be taken because that state fears that the damage the opponent can inflict will be too high, thus rendering the costs of the war higher than the benefits. Assumptions of deterrence: a. Leaders are rational: therefore, they will avoid war in situations where the potential costs of the war outweigh the benefits of going to war b. Destructiveness of actually going to war is very large, posing an unacceptable cost. This is especially true where nuclear weapons are involved. During the Cold War, American policymakers, as well as Soviet ones, accepted the fact that the destructive potential of nuclear weapons was too great that using them became unacceptable. However, the threat to use them was used. c. Alternatives to war exist in the current situation. Insecurity can be managed and reduced through non-military options....
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