In This Review

Deterrence and Security in the 21st Century: China, Britain, France, and the Enduring Legacy of the Nuclear Revolution
Deterrence and Security in the 21st Century: China, Britain, France, and the Enduring Legacy of the Nuclear Revolution
By Avery Goldstein
Stanford University Press, 2000, 360 pp.

A thoughtful study of Chinese, French, and British security policies during the Cold War. Goldstein argues that the logic that led these powers to acquire nuclear forces -- to deter threats to their vital interests -- remains at least as relevant, if not more so, after the Cold War. Underpinned by realist balance-of-power theory, the book argues that the inherent uncertainties of the American and Soviet nuclear guarantees, as well as the insecurities derived from political subordination to the two superpowers, made independent nuclear deterrents attractive to these states. Goldstein counters the view that these second-rank countries acquired nuclear forces simply as status symbols, arguing instead through fascinating case studies that they had real security utility. Goldstein's discussion of China is most convincing. Faced with severe resource constraints that limited their military options, he argues, Chinese officials believed that a modest nuclear arsenal would provide them a credible deterrent in the absence of a superpower guarantee. And such national deterrence capabilities will continue to attract states attempting to deal with security challenges in today's more strategically complex, multipolar world.