- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

International Security

Summer 2006

International Security is America's leading journal of security affairs. It provides sophisticated analyses of contemporary security issues and discusses their conceptual and historical foundations. The journal is edited at the Belfer Center and published quarterly by the MIT Press. Questions may be directed to: IS@harvard.edu


The End of MAD? The Nuclear Dimension of U.S. Primacy

Since the end of the Cold War, the nuclear balance has shifted dramatically, write Keir A. Lieber, of the University of Notre Dame, and Daryl G. Press, of the University of Pennsylvania. The U.S. nuclear arsenal has steadily improved; the Russian force has sharply eroded; and Chinese nuclear modernization has progressed at a glacial pace.Today, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy, meaning that it could conceivably disarm the nuclear arsenals of Russia and China. Lieber and Press discuss implications of the rise of U.S. nuclear primacy for relations among the world's great powers, for U.S. foreign policy, and for international relations scholarship.

Symbolic Politics or Rational Choice? Testing Theories of Extreme Ethnic Violence

Using the cases of Sudan's civil war and Rwanda's genocide, Stuart J. Kaufman, of the University of Delaware, argues that rational choice theories, which claim that extreme ethnic violence can be explained either as the result of information failures and commitment problems or as the utility-maximizing strategy of predatory elites, are incorrect: neither case can be understood as resulting from information failures, commitment problems, or ratiorational power-conserving elite strategies. A better explanation is found in symbolic politics theory, which asserts that extreme violence is driven by hostile ethnic myths and an emotionally driven symbolic politics based on those myths that popularize predatory policies.

Building a Republican Peace: Stabilizing States after War

In the view of Michael Barnett, of the University of Minnesota, although peacebuilders do not operate from a common template, liberal values so define their activities that their efforts can be called "liberal peacebuilding." Growing evidence suggests, however, that liberal peacebuilding is recreating the conditions of conflict; states emerging from war do not have the means to absorb the pressures associated with political and market competition. One alternative is "republican peacebuilding." Drawing from republican political theory, Downes argues that the republican principles can help states after war address the threats to stability deriving from arbitrary power and factional conflict and, in the process, develop some legitimacy.

The Evolution of U.S.-Indian Ties: Missile Defense in an Emerging Strategic Relationship

The shift in Indian positions on missile defense in the light of the growing transformation of U.S.-Indian relations since the end of the Cold War, and the advent of the Bush administration, has been remarkable. According to Ashley J.Tellis, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, several factors-including the growing recognition in Washington and New Delhi of the threat of weapons of mass destruction and the desire to forge a new partnership grounded in democratic values-have combined to produce a dramatic new acceptance of strategic defenses. What is fascinating about this evolution is the manner in which missile defenses have come to reflect a means toward, the steady improvement in U.S.-Indian ties occurring in recent years. This, in turn, implies that a deepening bilateral relationship has become part of New Delhi's larger solution to increasing India's capacity to defeat threats.


Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: The Causes of Civilian Victimization in War

Despite normative and legal injunctions against targeting civilians in war, as well as doubts regarding the effectiveness of such strategies, belligerents have frequently turned their guns on noncombatants. Alexander B. Downes, of Duke University, points to two variables-desperation to win and to save lives in protracted wars of attrition, and the intention to annex territory-to explain  repeated resort to civilian targeting.

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For Academic Citation: International Security.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Summer 2006).