The Downside of Imperial Collapse
When Empires or Great Powers Fall, Chaos and War Rise
To the Editor:
John Lewis Gaddis makes an excellent point in "Grand Strategy in the Second Term" (January/February 2005) when he touches on the quandary over finding a balance between security and sovereignty that the world has found itself in as a result of the September 11, 2001, attacks. In the name of security, a state must now consider, as a matter of policy, breaching the sovereignty of other states if it is believed that they have the potential to undertake a strike. In addition, states are now more inclined, in the name of security, to develop weapons for protection against other countries that no longer recognize sovereignty as sacrosanct. Terrorism has changed the world, not only by instilling a sense of fear of future terrorist attacks, but also by forcing a conflict between policies that guarantee security and policies that recognize sovereignty.
This set of circumstances will ultimately and sadly form the impetus for nuclear proliferation, in turn presenting new and ever-worsening security challenges for the United States and the world. A similar cycle of weapons proliferation in the name of security played out in Europe in the years prior to World War I, with tragic results.
In addition to the threats posed by terrorist groups, the most pernicious security challenge in the post-September 11 world will thus arise from the potential use, both regionally and globally, of nuclear weapons. I hope I am wrong.