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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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Nuclear War Outcomes

Nuclear War Outcomes

Chapter:
(p.39) 2 Nuclear War Outcomes
Source:
The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy
Author(s):

Matthew Kroenig

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190849184.003.0003

This chapter explores the idea that the nuclear balance of power matters for nuclear war outcomes. It tests this proposition by analyzing simulated nuclear exchanges between the United States and its nuclear-armed rivals: Russia, China, and North Korea. Drawing on both historical and contemporary data on the nuclear postures and strategies of these states, it shows that a state’s expected cost of nuclear war depends heavily on the nuclear balance of power. The results provide strong support for the superiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory. On the other hand, the major alternative explanation for nuclear war outcomes, the idea that the nuclear balance of power does not matter for nuclear war outcomes among states with secure, second-strike capabilities, does not find support.

Keywords:   nuclear, war, outcome, cost, damage, limitation, winter, target, deep reduction, exchange calculation

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