"With the end of the Cold War and demise of the Soviet Union nearly a decade ago, the American debate about nuclear weapons shifted to new ground. It is now dominated by two opposing camps, the 'nuclear abolitionists' and the 'nuclear guardians'. These two camps see the world in starkly contrasting terms, though they seem rarely to debate the assumptions that underpin their worldviews. But worldviews will shape policy. The nuclear planning environment as it might exist in the year 2015 will be shaped fundamentally by how policymakers understand the principal themes of international politics and the new challenges posed by changing relations of power among major and minor actors in the interstate system. By thinking through a range of feasible alternative international orders in the year 2015, it is possible to get beyond simple best- and worst-case projections of the future. This helps to illuminate the range of demands, both political and operational, that might be put on the nuclear posture of the United States. Whether the world will become more multipolar or unipolar, or whether new variants of bipolarity or even non-polarity will emerge cannot be known today. We can anticipate, however, both benign and stressing variants of each. Relatively benign environments may lead U.S. policymakers to conclude that the numbers and types of deployed weapons may not matter very much; survivability and to an increasing extent safety would seem likely to matter much more. In the relatively stressing environments, numbers and types would likely matter a good deal more. In some variants, renewed theater nuclear roles are likely; while in others extended deterrence matters hardly at all." Note: This document has been added to the Homeland Security Digital Library in agreement with the Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering WMD (PASCC) as part of the PASCC collection. Permission to download and/or retrieve this resource has been obtained through PASCC.
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