Nuclear Asymmetry and Deterrence: Theory, Policy and History, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Nuclear Asymmetry and Deterrence

Theory, Policy and History, 1st Edition

By Jan Ludvik


184 pages

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Hardback: 9781138696198
pub: 2016-10-18
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315525174
pub: 2016-11-10
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This book offers a broader theory of nuclear deterrence and examines the way nuclear and conventional deterrence interact with non-military factors in a series of historical case studies.

The existing body of literature largely leans toward the analytical primacy of nuclear deterrence and it is often implicitly assumed that nuclear weapons are so important that, when they are present, other factors need not be studied. This book addresses this omission. It develops a research framework that incorporates the military aspects of deterrence, both nuclear and conventional, together with various perceptual factors, international circumstances, domestic politics, and norms. This framework is then used to re-examine five historical crises that brought two nuclear countries to the brink of war: the hostile asymmetric nuclear relations between the United States and China in the early 1960s; between the Soviet Union and China in the late 1960s; between Israel and Iraq in 1977–1981; between the United States and North Korea in 1992–1994; and, finally, between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The main empirical findings challenge the common expectation that the threat of nuclear retaliation represents the ultimate deterrent. In fact, it can be said, with a high degree of confidence, that it was rather the threat of conventional retaliation that acted as a major stabilizer.

This book will be of much interest to students of nuclear proliferation, cold war studies, deterrence theory, security studies and IR in general.

Table of Contents



1. Toward a broader theory of deterrence

2. The United States and China, 1959-1966

3. The Soviet Union and China, 1969

4. Israel and Iraq, 1977-1981

5. The United States and North Korea, 1992-1994

6. The United States and Soviet Union, 1962

7. Putting the pieces together

About the Author


Jan Ludvik is Assistant Professor at the Department of Security Studies and Research Fellow at the Center for Security Policy, Charles University, Czech Republic. He has a PhD in International Relations.

About the Series

Routledge Global Security Studies

Global Security Studies is a series for cutting-edge monographs and books on international security. It emphasizes cutting-edge scholarship on the forces reshaping global security and the dilemmas facing decision-makers the world over. The series stresses security issues relevant in many countries and regions, accessible to broad professional and academic audiences as well as to students, and enduring through explicit theoretical foundations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Arms Control
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / International Security