Over the Horizon Proliferation Threats; Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation

In This Review

Over the Horizon Proliferation Threats
by Edited by James J. Wirtz and Peter R. Lavoy
Stanford Security Studies, 2012
328 pp. $29.95
Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation
by Edited by Etel Solingen
Cambridge University Press, 2012
402 pp. $32.99

Wirtz and Lavoy assembled top experts to consider which countries might go nuclear next. They do not dwell on the usual suspects but instead examine a number of unlikely prospects, such as Indonesia, Myanmar (also called Burma), Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, and some that were once believed to be on the verge but are no longer, such as Argentina and Brazil. Warning lights do not really flash in any of these cases, although the Middle Eastern and Asian examples do indicate the problems that could develop if the United States were perceived to be withdrawing from its established security commitments. Later chapters look at the policy options available for heading off proliferation. The 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty remains the centerpiece, but there are a variety of other means for warning would-be proliferators that they could struggle to realize their ambitions, and there are also positive inducements to persuade countries to forego nuclear arms.

Such efforts to coerce or cajole are the subject of Solingen’s collection. To what extent did the nuclear disarmament of Iraq and Libya depend on the pressure and practical consequences of economic sanctions? Why have Iran and North Korea not buckled under pressure? The analyses contained in the book are underpinned by considerable conceptual innovation and methodological rigor, leading to a number of sharp insights—but no firm conclusions. Solingen’s team makes the case for using both sticks and carrots but notes that positive incentives are harder to design. Moreover, for sticks and carrots to complement each other, what is required is not only a great deal of diplomatic choreography but also an understanding of their impact on the domestic politics of would-be proliferators.