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Unformatted text preview: Do Counterproliferation and Counterterrorism Go Together? DANIEL BYMAN Americans heard a rare note of harmony during the otherwise acrimonious 2004 debate between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. When moderator Jim Lehrer asked the candidates to identify ‘‘the single most serious threat to the national security of the United States,’’ both stressed the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. 1 Given this sentiment, it is not surprising that the President’s foreign policy is designed around the nexus of counterterrorism and counterproliferation. The result is the ‘‘Bush doctrine,’’ a foreign policy that stresses countering this nexus by transforming hostile tyrannies into friendly democracies through coercion and even regime change. This transformation can be done in a variety of ways, but the Bush doctrine stresses that the United States should act alone if an international consensus cannot be achieved. 2 Democrats have noisily criticized the President for embracing unilateralism too easily, but that is a critique of modalities rather than objectives. They, too, regularly beat the drum of alarm with regard to nuclear weapons and terrorism. Nuclear proliferation and terrorism, however, are not twin horrors and do not result in a single set of policy guidelines. The problems of when nation states proliferate and when terrorist groups attack are often quite distinct from the 1 For a transcript, see ‘‘The First Bush–Kerry Presidential Debate.’’ Commission on Presidential Debates, 30 September 2004, accessed at http://www.debates.org/pages/trans2004a.html, 15 January 2007. This essay will focus on the question of terrorist use of nuclear weapons. While terrorist use of chemical or radiological weapons would have a tremendous psychological impact, it would be unlikely to inflict mass casualties. Terrorist use of biological weapons could potentially pose a deadly threat and deserves additional attention. 2 For a review, see Robert Jervis, ‘‘Understanding the Bush Doctrine,’’ Political Science Quarterly 118 (Fall 2003): 365–388. For a defense of the Bush Doctrine as the toll of the Iraq war became clear, see Norman Podhoretz, ‘‘Is the Bush Doctrine Dead?’’ Commentary 122 (September 2006): 17–31. DANIEL BYMAN is the Director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a non-resident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Political Science Quarterly Volume 122 Number 1 2007 25 problem of when terrorist groups might gain access to nuclear weapons. In general, proliferators and sponsors of terrorist groups have distinct motivations, and the solution sets for both problems are even more different. When this generic problem is scrutinized with today’s terrorist groups and potential nu- clear suppliers in mind, the disjuncture becomes far greater. Not only do efforts that join counterterrorism with counterproliferation fail to solve the problems...
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course 790 319 taught by Professor Licklider during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.
- Spring '09
- The American, Nuclear weapon