In This Review

The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence
The War That Must Never Be Fought: Dilemmas of Nuclear Deterrence
Edited by George P. Shultz and James E. Goodby
Hoover Institution Press, 2015, 450 pp

Shultz, who served as U.S. secretary of state from 1982 to 1989, and Goodby, a former U.S. arms negotiator, make the case for governments to take urgent steps toward abolishing nuclear weapons. The well-informed contributors to this volume consider the relative costs and benefits of nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament, examining the particular challenges that a shift from deterrence to disarmament would pose in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia. All conclude that the path of disarmament is the only safe choice. But many of the chapters suffer from a problem most evident in the opening essay, by Benoît Pelopidas. Instead of exploring and highlighting the many dangers and uncertainties associated with the practice of nuclear deterrence, which are hard to deny and which lend support to the idea of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in international affairs, Pelopidas overstates the case by insisting on the irrelevance of the weapons. But as other chapters make clear, that is clearly not the view held by the governments of Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia—for the last, especially since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Given its overall military strength, the United States could probably manage without nuclear deterrence—but that is exactly why other countries continue to seek it.