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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: 16 October 2021

Nuclear Deterrence and Compellence

Nuclear Deterrence and Compellence

(p.114) 5 Nuclear Deterrence and Compellence
The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy

Matthew Kroenig

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines whether nuclear superiority matters for compellent threats. Drawing on the Militarized Compellent Threat (MCT) data set, the same data set used by nuclear irrelevance theorists, it finds that the nuclear balance of power is central to patterns of international coercion. Indeed, the evidence is clear and compelling in simple descriptive statistics. Since 1945, nuclear-armed states have issued forty-nine compellent threats against nuclear inferior states and zero compellent threats against nuclear superior states. For nuclear-armed powers, therefore, in this sample of data, nuclear superiority has been a necessary condition for even attempting compellence. Compellence may be more difficult than deterrence, as others have maintained, but this chapter demonstrates that engaging in nuclear compellence from a position of inferiority is even harder still. In short, nuclear superiority deters compellence.

Keywords:   compellence, deterrence, coercion, Militarized Compellent Threats, nuclear superiority, nuclear scepticism theory, nuclear brinkmanship, superiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory, selection bias

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