Category Archives: Vol. 10 No. 2

Nuclear Arms Control: Coming Back from Oblivion, Again

Tensions between the United States and Russian Federation have spiraled in recent years and the outlook for the bilateral nuclear arms control regime has become ever more grim. Comparisons to the early 1980s Cold War are common.

Now, as then, Washington and Moscow are geopolitical adversaries. A key arms control agreement has been abandoned. Nuclear modernization accelerates. Old nuclear hands warn that the risk of nuclear war is rising. Amid growing unease, practitioners and commenters debate nuclear policy priorities, how the arms control process might resume, and how best to reduce nuclear risks.

Dakota Rudsill’s essay analyzes the comparison of our present moment of nuclear destabilization with the Cold War’s frigid and perilous depths in the early 1980s. It argues that the analogy is not perfect but it is instructive. The Cold War teaches that arms control can come back from oblivion. By focusing on the right priorities—strategic stability in particular—and generating ideas now, a pragmatic slate of actionable stability-enhancing proposals can be ready when the geopolitical currents change and prospects for nuclear arms control recover.

Shaking the Rust Off the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Ratification Process

This article provides an analysis of the benefits a Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty and its ratification process would have on international norms, order, and the prosperity of all States involved. In a comprehensive call to action, Matsick recommends an insightful four-sided bargain by four of the largest nuclear powers that would suppress strategic fears and argues that this bargain might be more politically feasible than once believed.

The aftermath of the Second World War and the ensuing nuclear arms race that followed in the Cold War has had an array of impacts throughout the globe and on the international system.

Nuclear nonproliferation and non-testing norms were the expected solution to quash many of those same impacts from bleeding into the future. Rob Matsick focuses the reader on myriad recent developments that have put these norms under siege, and the need for a comprehensive treaty on nuclear testing to resolutely affirm and strengthen the existing legal regime.

Requesting a Challenge Inspection Against Syria Under the Chemical Weapons Convention: Venturing into Uncharted Territory

In response to the April 2018 chemical attack in Syria that killed more than 40 people, the United States, France, and Britain launched more than 100 missiles targeting three suspected chemical weapon storage and research facilities. However, subsequent reports have raised questions concerning the accuracy of the intelligence regarding these facilities. Rather than conducting this airstrike, the US-led coalition should have utilized the unique verification mechanism provided by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997: a challenge inspection.

Through an in-depth examination of the never been used CWC challenge inspection, Jonathan Greengarden outlines the process for requesting a challenge inspection and explains why it is not too late to request such an inspection against Syria. Utilizing this powerful verification tool is necessary in order to hold CWC violators accountable and to reinforce the international norm against using chemical weapons.

Deterrence as the MacGuffin: The Case for Arms Control in Outer Space

This article examines the theory and practice of two partially contrasting policy approaches to US national security and global stability: deterrence, which has long been regarded as virtually the “Holy Grail” of post-World War II US strategy, and arms control, which offers alternative goals, procedures, and structures.

In the realm of nuclear weapons, both approaches have been regularly employed: the United States has developed and deployed a diverse array of weapons, devoting time and treasure to assembling the tools of deterrence, but it has also simultaneously pursued successive generations of SALT, START, and other diplomatic initiatives to limit and reduce those inventories. In contrast, when it comes to outer space—where there is currently a widely-shared perception of starkly rising security threats from Russia, China, and elsewhere—it is deterrence, and deterrence alone, that has been marshaled. Arms control, even relatively modest, preliminary, and non-legally binding variants, has consistently been categorically ruled off the table, by Republican and Democratic leadership alike.

David A. Koplow posits that this exclusive American reliance upon deterrence for ameliorating the security problems of space is misguided. This is because deterrence in all its assorted forms and variations is systematically less applicable to the special circumstances of exoatmospheric competition, and arms control in outer space would be particularly valuable and successful in that milieu. Koplow therefore concludes that US national policy should be promptly re-aligned, to draw strategically upon both concepts for resisting the further degradation of the security and sustainability of critical space operations.

Personal Information as an Attack Vector: Why Privacy Should Be an Operational Dimension of US National Security

The US government has always been keen on its ability to protect sensitive and classified information from its enemies, yet the majority of resources have focused on military and national security information, which has left other categories of information exposed.

Capt. Christopher Dearing focuses the reader on the national security implications of personal information and the detrimental impact it possesses. This article provides an analysis of current privacy law and the information landscape, while highlighting areas where the US government has failed to keep pace to protect personal information, providing a valuable target for adversaries.

In an expansive call for action, Capt. Dearing recommends eight concrete steps that the government can take to better protect and manage personal information while developing stronger procedures to identify threats and respond to them.