CIAO DATE: 09/03
Spring 2003 (Volume 27 Issue 4)
Many commentators wonder whether China is a status quo power that will continue to comply with regional and international norms or whether it is a revisionist power increasingly willing to challenge U.S. hegemony. Iain Johnston of Harvard University responds to the growing chorus of skeptics who contend that China is becoming a greater source of instability and offers evidence of Chinese behavior that, in some cases, suggests a more status quo orientation. Johnston bases this conclusion on a set of indicators he uses to assess recent trends in China’s foreign policy.
How successfully has international relations theory captured the post–Cold War Asian experience? David Kang of Dartmouth College argues that Western scholars are “getting Asia wrong.” The region has not witnessed the emergence of arms racing and power politics that many analysts have predicted. In addition, Asian states do not seem to be balancing against a rising China; rather they appear to be bandwagoning. Kang asserts that scholars can no longer rely so overwhelmingly on European history to understand the international politics of Asia in the twenty-first century.
Robert Powell of the University of California at Berkeley uses nuclear deterrence theory to address three major concerns involving nuclear proliferation and national missile defense (NMD): How might the spread of nuclear weapons affect the ability of the United States to achieve its foreign policy objectives? Can a national missile defense protect against nuclear blackmail by a rogue state? What are the likely political and economic costs to the United States of pursuing NMD? Powell warns that although “NMD would give the United States somewhat more freedom of action and make a rogue state more likely to back down in a crisis,” it could also increase the risk of a nuclear attack on the United States. This heightened risk, says Powell, would be “a direct consequence of a greater U.S. willingness to press its interests harder in a crisis” once it has missile defenses.
Dinshaw Mistry of the University of Cincinnati assesses the record of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation in limiting missile proliferation. Mistry maintains that although the MTCR and the Code of Conduct may temporarily reduce a state’s determination to build ballistic missiles, they cannot prevent their ultimate development. In addition to offering qualified support for missile defenses and preemptive military strikes, Mistry proposes five measures to strengthen the MTCR and Code of Conduct: space service initiatives, regional missile-free zones, global intermediate-range missile bans, flight-test bans, and verification mechanisms.
Recently declassified documents reveal that in October 1969, President Richard Nixon ordered the U.S. military to go on nuclear alert. Nixon’s decision to test his “madman theory” was meant to signal to leaders in Moscow and Hanoi his willingness to do whatever was necessary to end the war in Vietnam. Scott Sagan of Stanford University and Jeremi Suri of the University of Wisconsin investigate the implications of Nixon’s order for the dynamics of nuclear weapons decisionmaking and diplomacy. According to Sagan and Suri, “The October 1969 global nuclear readiness operation produced the worst of all worlds.” Not only was the nuclear alert ineffective; it was also dangerous. The authors conclude that the possibility that new nuclear states may similarly seek to exploit their nuclear weapons arsenals to achieve political objectives underscores the importance of adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Kevin Narizny, a 2002–03 fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, argues that domestic politics can play a significant role in shaping national security interests and alliance decisions. To illustrate the impact of domestic politics on national security, Narizny traces the British government’s alignment decisions in Europe before World Wars I and II. According to his findings, Britain’s “diplomatic alignments were upended nearly every time a new government came to power, even when its external environment remained unchanged.” The reason, explains Narizny, lies in the widely divergent views Britain’s Conservative and Liberal Parties held for what these alignments meant for their political fortunes at home.
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Is China a Status Quo Power? by Alastair Iain Johnston
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is more integrated into, and more cooperative within, regional and global political and economic systems than ever in its history. Yet there is growing uneasiness in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region about the implications of China’s increasing economic and military power. Characterizations of Chinese diplomacy in the policy and scholarly worlds are, if anything, less optimistic of late about China’s adherence to regional and international norms. In the 1980s there was little discussion in the United States and elsewhere about whether China was or was not part of something called “the international community.” Since the early 1990s, however, scholars and practitioners alike have argued increasingly that China has not demonstrated sufficiently that it will play by so-called international rules and that somehow it must be brought into this community. The subtext is a fairly sharp othering of China that includes a civilizing discourse (China is not yet a civilized state) or perhaps a sports discourse (China is a cheater).
Many of the most vigorous policy debates in the United States in recent years have been over whether it is even possible to socialize a dictatorial, nationalistic, and dissatisfied China within this putative international community. Engagers argue that China is becoming socialized, though mainly in the sphere of economic norms (e.g., free trade and domestic marketization). Skeptics either conclude that this is not the case, due to the nature of the regime (for some, China is still Red China; for more sophisticated skeptics, China is flirting with fascism), or that it could not possibly happen because China as a rising power, by definition, is dissatisfied with the U.S.-dominated global order (a power-transition realpolitik argument). A logical conclusion is that both groups view the problem of China’s rising power as the primary...
Getting Asia Wrong: The Need for New Analytical Frameworks by David C. Kang
Most international relations theory is inductively derived from the European experience of the past four centuries, during which Europe was the locus and generator of war, innovation, and wealth. According to Kenneth Waltz, “The theory of international politics is written in terms of the great powers of an era. It would be... ridiculous to construct a theory of international politics based on Malaysia and Costa Rica.... A general theory of international politics is necessarily based on the great powers.” If international relations theorists paid attention to other regions of the globe, it was to study subjects considered peripheral such as third world security or the behavior of small states. Accordingly, international relations scholarship has focused on explaining the European experience, including, for example, the causes of World Wars I and II, as well as the Cold War and U.S.-Soviet relations. Although this is still true, other parts of the world have become increasingly significant. Accordingly, knowledge of European...
Nuclear Deterrence Theory, Nuclear Proliferation, and National Missile Defense by Robert Powell
On December 17, 2002, President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of a national missile defense (NMD). Proponents of missile defenses, both inside and outside the Bush administration, argue that, absent NMD, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the greater U.S. vulnerability that this entails will significantly limit the United States’ ability to secure it foreign policy goals. "A policy of intentional vulnerability by the Western nations," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld argues, "could give rogue states the power to hold our people hostage to nuclear blackmail—in an effort to prevent us from projecting force to stop aggression." Similarly, Walter Slocombe as undersecretary of defense in the Clinton administration asserted, "Without defenses, potential aggressors might think that the threat of strikes against U.S. cities could coerce the United States into failing to meet its commitments."
To what extent do the spread of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them threaten U.S. interests and impede the United States’ ability to pursue its...
Beyond the MTCR: Building a Comprehensive Regime to Contain Ballistic Missile Proliferation by Dinshaw Mistry
The proliferation of ballistic missiles has been a major international security concern for many years. Efforts to address this concern, centered on the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), have had a mixed record. The MTCR seeks to curb missile proliferation by denying regional powers the technology to build missiles. In the MTCR’s first decade, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, and Taiwan were thwarted from advancing their missile ambitions. In light of these positive developments, MTCR members expressed satisfaction with the regime at its tenth anniversary in 1997. Yet in subsequent years, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan launched medium-range missiles, and several other states have expanded their missile programs, demonstrating the MTCR’s limitations. To augment the regime, MTCR members drafted the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. In November 2002 ninety-three countries signed the code, which calls on states to make their missile policies more transparent.
In this article I seek to answer two central questions: First, can the MTCR’s technology barriers, along with the Code of Conduct’s transparency initiatives, curb the spread of ballistic missiles? Second, if the MTCR and the code are inadequate, what additional measures are necessary to contain missile...
The Madman Nuclear Alert: Secrecy, Signaling, and Safety in October 1969 by Scott D. Sagan and Jeremi Suri
On the evening of October 10, 1969, Gen. Earle Wheeler, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), sent a top secret message to major U.S. military commanders around the world informing them that the JCS had been directed "by higher authority" to increase U.S. military readiness "to respond to possible confrontation by the Soviet Union." The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was ordered to stand down all aircraft combat training missions and to increase the number of nucleararmed B-52 bombers on ground alert. These readiness measures were implemented on October 13. Even more dramatic, on October 27 SAC launched a series of B-52 bombers, armed with thermonuclear weapons, on a "show of force" airborne alert, code-named Giant Lance. During this alert operation, eighteen B-52s took off from bases in California and Washington State. The bombers crossed Alaska, were refueled in midair by KC-135 tanker aircraft, and then flew in oval patterns toward the Soviet Union and back, on eighteenhour "vigils" over the northern polar ice cap.
Why did the U.S. military go on a nuclear alert in October 1969? The alert was a loud but secret military signal ordered by President Richard Nixon. Nixon sought to convince Soviet and North Vietnamese leaders that he might do anything to end the war in Vietnam, in accordance with his "madman theory" of coercive diplomacy. The nuclear alert measures were therefore speci fically chosen to be loud enough to be picked up quickly by the Soviet Union’s intelligence agencies. The military operation was also, however, deliberately designed to remain secret from the American public and U.S. allies.
The Poliical Economy of Alignment: Great Britain's Commitments to Europe, 1905-39 by Kevin Narizny
Few issues cut so deeply to the core of international relations theory as the origins of diplomatic alignments. If only one of the great powers had chosen a different alliance strategy at any of several critical junctures over the past century, the course of world history might have been radically altered. Germany might have succeeded in the conquest of Europe, or it might have been deterred from hostilities altogether. Much depended on Great Britain, which avoided entangling itself in continental crises until each world war had already become inevitable. By making a stronger commitment to France in the early 1910s, or by forging a close partnership with the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, Britain might have been able to persuade German leaders that military conflict would not have been worth the risk. Given the enormous stakes of great power politics, it is of vital importance for the field of international relations to provide a compelling account of how states choose their allies and adversaries.
The academic debate over alignment has centered on two schools of thought within the realist paradigm. One view posits that states tend to balance against the most powerful actor in the system; the other asserts that states concern themselves only with specific threats to their national security. Using these theories as a point of departure, many scholars have also explored secondorder factors that affect great power alignments, including offense-defense balance, revisionist motives, domestic regime characteristics, and intra-alliance bargaining dynamics.