McNair Paper 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995

Institute for National Strategic Studies


McNair Paper Number 41, Radical Responses to Radical Regimes: Evaluating Preemptive Counter-Proliferation, May 1995

QUESTIONS DEMANDING AN ANSWER: RESPONDING TO RADICAL PROLIFERATORS

Only recently has the U.S. Government begun to formulate a coherent and comprehensive counter-proliferation strategy to cope with or prevent countries from acquiring WMD, involving the entire spectrum of U.S. diplomatic, economic, political, and military tools needed to accomplish the job.

Radical states on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons now confront the U.S. Government with a whole new set of national security questions for consideration. For example, what response is required if one of the world's most ruthless leaders, hostile to the United States, has or is about to acquire a nuclear weapons capability?

Is there ever an occasion in peacetime when U.S. military force should be used to prevent proliferation? Or, should the United States, in all peacetime cases, take its chances with diplomacy, political persuasion, economic incentives, and other non-military means?

In determining when U.S. preemption is appropriate, what can we learn from previous cases where other nation's leaders faced a developing regional nuclear threat?(Note 21)

What key questions should be asked and what guidelines should be applied to determine whether or not the United States should preempt militarily in a given case?

In general, how should the United States prepare for radical regimes seeking to acquire WMD?

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