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Each nation would have to plan for the likelihood that only a portion of its forces would survive a nuclear first strike, retaliate and arrive at their assigned targets. The numbers of each state’s second strike surviving and retaliating forces following notional first strikes are summarized in Figure 7.4. Several findings of significance are apparent. From the standpoint of deterrence stability, there is no clear metric by which one can say that “so many additional nuclear powers equate to such-and-such a decline in deterrence.” In theory, it is not impossible for a many-sided nuclear rivalry, even one as regionally robust as this case is, to be stable. Provided it has the resources and the technical know-how to do so, each state could deploy sufficient numbers of “second strike survivable” forces to guarantee the “minimum deterrent” mission, and perhaps the “assured destruction” mission as well. Both “minimum deterrence” and “assured destruction” are terms of art thatoverlap in practice. Assured destruction (or assured retaliation) forces are second strike forces sufficient under allconditions of attack to inflict “unacceptable” societal damage. Unacceptable varies with the recipient of the damage and depends on cultural values and political priorities. But it would be safe to assume that the decapitation of the regime and the loss of at least 25 percent of its population and/or one-half its industrial base would satisfy the requirements of assured destruction for “rational” or at least sensible attackers. Minimum deterrence is a standard presumably less ambitious than assured destruction: it requires only that the defender inflict costs on the attacker that would create enough pain to make the gamble of an attack insufficiently appealing.31 For example: during the Cold War, the French nuclear retaliatory forces were not sufficient by themselves to deter a Soviet attack on NATO, but they might have deterred nuclear blackmail against France separately by threatening Moscow with the prospect of “tearing an arm off,” or destroying several Soviet cities. Some expert analysts have suggested that a minimum deterrent strategic nuclear force for the United States might be maintained with as few as several hundred operationally deployable weapons.32 Former US National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy put forward the most assertive definition of minimum deterrence in his argument that 10 nuclear weapons on 10 cities would be a “disaster beyond history.”33 Although the projection of past events into future scenarios is always perilous, something like the July 1914 crisis in Europe could erupt in Asia once nuclear weapons have been distributed among eight major states with high military stakes in Asia and in numbers sufficient to tempt crisis bound leaders. National, religious or other cultural hatreds could be combined with the memory of past wrongs and the fear of preemptive attack. This could occur not only between dyads of states but between alliances, as it did on the eve of the First World War. Coalitions might form among a
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People's Republic of China, Political status of Taiwan, Taiwan.