The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics

Bracken argues that since the end of the Cold War, a second nuclear age has begun, defined by an unstable, dangerous “multipolar nuclear order” in which the prevention of nuclear war no longer hinges exclusively on clearheaded security calculations on the part of Moscow and Washington. Nuclear weapons are now integral to foreign and defense policies in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia, where governments have embraced them as necessary tools of regional stability and deterrence. Bracken argues that this emerging global nuclear system will make it impossible to eliminate nuclear weapons. The only solution is to “manage” the problem, and this requires new long-term strategic thinking and new political frameworks to deal with the regional rivalries in the Middle East and Asia that threaten to trigger nuclear escalation and proliferation. If there is a glimmer of optimism in Bracken’s analysis, it is that the major nuclear powers have largely succeeded in stabilizing their own nuclear rivalries and now share a common interest in containing regional rivalries among smaller states and in building a new global system of arms control.

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