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The Logic of American Nuclear StrategyWhy Strategic Superiority Matters$
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Matthew Kroenig

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190849184

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190849184.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 July 2021

Toward a New Theory of Nuclear Deterrence

Toward a New Theory of Nuclear Deterrence

The Superiority-Brinkmanship Synthesis Theory

(p.15) 1 Toward a New Theory of Nuclear Deterrence
The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy

Matthew Kroenig

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops a new theory of nuclear deterrence, the superiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory. The theory brings together traditional arguments in the nuclear strategy literature about the advantages of nuclear superiority and combines them with nuclear brinkmanship theory to provide the first coherent theoretical explanation for why nuclear superiority provides states with geopolitical advantages. It argues that military nuclear advantages reduce a state’s expected cost of nuclear war, increasing its effective resolve, and enhancing its bargaining position. On the other hand, states in an inferior strategic position face a relatively higher cost of nuclear war, are less willing to run risks in a crisis, and are more likely to back down early in a dispute. This chapter serves, therefore, as the theoretical and conceptual core for the first half of the book

Keywords:   Nuclear strategy, nuclear deterrence, nuclear deterrence theory, nuclear brinkmanship, superiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory, nuclear superiority, nuclear weapons, cost of nuclear war

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