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The Concept of 'Tailored Deterrence' in the 'Second Nuclear Age'

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This article looks at one of the key concepts behind American thinking about nuclear weapons in the post-cold war period. It begins with a discussion of the main features of cold war thinking about nuclear deterrence and considers the debate about whether deterrence worked during the cold war. It then focuses on the key features of the post-cold war nuclear age and looks at some of the main characteristics of what has been called the ‘second nuclear age.’ Attention is then given to contemporary United States thinking about the role of nuclear weapons and the development of the concept of ‘tailored deterrence.’ Finally, the article considers the debate about whether there is anything different about this concept and cold war ideas about strategic nuclear deterrence and concludes by considering what challenges ‘tailored deterrence’ poses for international security today.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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