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Contents:
  1. BOOK REVIEW: The Future of Nuclear Weapons | Arms Control Association
  2. National Security and Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century
  3. Today's Global Nuclear Threats

Instead, this book gives you a fast-moving, highly readable, and in-depth look at the modern challenges to sound nuclear policy while ultimately offering a realistic answer to the question, Do nuclear weapons "make an important and irreplaceable contribution to the national security of the United States" p.

Roberts answers with a resounding "Yes! Brad Roberts established himself as a nuclear policy expert not only through his academic acumen but also as a policy expert in Washington.

Most recently, he served in the Obama administration as deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy. Are you familiar with the Nuclear Posture Review Report?

BOOK REVIEW: The Future of Nuclear Weapons | Arms Control Association

He helped write it. Couple that with his work on the Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report and the image of a nuclear policy authority begins to emerge. So what does this authority have to say concerning nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century? Overwhelmingly, he advocates for the retention of US nuclear capability. While keeping open the possibility of unilateral nuclear arms reductions and even acknowledging the elimination of nuclear weapons as a worthy goal, Roberts explains that current and emerging threats prevent such actions.

He focuses most of his analysis on the three "Red" powers of a resurgent Russia, an emerging China, and an increasingly hostile North Korea.

National Security and Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century

An unknown error has occurred. However, I often felt like the Cold War framework was central to this piece.


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Though this is merely a conceptual fault, it should be addressed if the goal is really to move past a Cold War framework for thinking about nuclear policy and posture. A second, and perhaps more important, issue with this piece is a narrow focus on proliferation cases. While I realize that Roberts organized this work around threats facing the United States, more consideration should have been given to other cases of proliferation. Roberts briefly mentions Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and ISIS in chapter 2, but concludes that these cases do not offer much explanatory power for understanding how leaders may use nuclear weapons.

Today's Global Nuclear Threats

Spending much of the book discussing the threat of North Korea, Roberts completely leaves out any concrete discussion of states that have reversed their nuclear weapons programs. There are far more states that have reversed their weapons programs than have succeeded in becoming a nuclear weapons state, and to leave out discussion of these states and what the phenomenon of nuclear reversal means to nonproliferation studies is a real concern, especially given that one of the goals of this book is to explore whether reducing nuclear weapons to zero is plausible.

In many ways, this book lives up to its dedication: as an answer to clear policy recommendation, frank discussion about American leadership, and defining the role for nuclear weapons in the international order. Everyone who has an interest in nuclear non proliferation, in US national security, and in understanding the current international order should read this book. It is equally accessible to the academy, the policy realm, and the layperson and is a true triumph in outlining the case for nuclear weapons as an important and irreplaceable contribution to US national security.

20-21: Nuclear Weapons: 20th Century History, 21st Century Choices

Citation: Paige P. H-War, H-Net Reviews. February, Cone on Roberts, 'The Case for U. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century' Author:.