Keywords: nuclear deterrence, deterrents, IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, non-proliferation treaties, Armageddon, nuclear governance, bargaining processes, politics, budget considerations, threat perception, ideologies, nuclear technology, service rivalries, flawed information, wishful thinking, peace, functional deterrence, foreign policies, atomic weapons, proliferation, terrorism, terrorists, war, conflicts, business, globalisation, Asia-Pacific, multi-disciplinary perspectives, nuclear weapons
Averting Armageddon: in search of nuclear governance
The making of nuclear weapons policy often has surprisingly little relationship with any objective rendering of what works and what does not. The making of nuclear policy is a remarkably imperfect process. It is a complex, fluid bargaining process subject to the tides of politics, budgets, threat perception, ideology, technology, parochial service rivalries, flawed information and sometimes just plain wishful thinking. Expert opinion on how best to keep the peace is more often used to justify policy than devise it. By its very nature, nuclear deterrence strategy has always been highly speculative and what might work has often been more important than what has worked. Moreover, functional deterrence is highly dependent on individual circumstances. Real-world international affairs are often messy, rarely bearing much resemblance to the neat confines imposed by theory. Nuclear deterrence often works, but usually in unpredictable ways. In combination with the fluid bargaining process that produces nuclear policy, that makes nuclear deterrence a centrepiece of a state's foreign policy a losing proposition.