From the Thesis Abstract: "This thesis created a matrix to compare the four post-Cold War Nuclear Posture Reviews (NPRs) published by the United States Department of Defense. Side-by-side comparison of these white papers revealed remarkable trends in U.S. nuclear policy. The matrix began by assigning themes within NPRs to paradigms common to international relations research. These paradigms are declaratory policy, procurement policy, employment policy, and deployment policy. This thesis began by analyzing the history of NPRs and reactions to them in the scholarly and international communities. Next, it created an impartial summary of the identified themes as they are tracked through the NPRs. This thesis then analyzed and critiqued the trends in nuclear policy based on the matrix, scholarly reactions to NPRs, and other research related to U.S. force structure and the worldwide threat environment such as the economic interdependence between the United States and China and how it affects the two countries' relationship. Some policy trends followed party lines; others did not. Some were erratic and others were more predictable. The value of these trends validates some concerns and disproves others with regard to the U.S. nuclear posture and the worldwide threat environment. The thesis concluded that the world is a safer place with nuclear weapons, and although a world free of nuclear weapons is a responsible goal for future policymakers, it is simply not practical for the foreseeable future."
Naval Postgraduate School, Dudley Knox Library: https://calhoun.nps.edu/