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

International Security Journal Highlights

Spring 2010

International Security

Vol. 34 No. 3     WINTER 2009/10

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 Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center and published quarterly by the MIT Press. Questions may be directed to IS@harvard.edu

"Same As It Ever Was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation, and the Cold War Francis J. Gavin

Nuclear alarmists argue that proliferation is the most dangerous threat facing the United States, but they largely ignore such past threats and overstate their claims. A better understanding of the history of nuclear proliferation and of how the international community escaped calamity during a far more dangerous time-the Cold War-would lead to more effective U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policies than those currently proposed by the alarmists.

"Posturing for Peace? Pakistan's Nuclear Postures and South Asian Stability" Vipin Narang

India and Pakistan are both nuclear-armed states, but their divergent nuclear postures have led to a stark difference in their deterrence capabilities. India has maintained an assured retaliation posture, but Pakistan has shifted from a catalytic to an asymmetric escalation posture, allowing it to pursue aggressive policies without significant fear of retaliation. Furthermore, to make its posture credible, Pakistan has had to relinquish some central control over the security of its nuclear arsenal. The implications for South Asian and international stability, therefore, are grim unless India and Pakistan can minimize the dangers of their current postures, and the United States can help Pakistan to better secure its nuclear arsenal.

"Understanding Support for Islamist Militancy in Pakistan"
Jacob N. Shapiro and C. Christine Fair

Western interest in Pakistan increased dramatically with the rise of the Taliban and other militant groups. Current U.S. policy toward Pakistan rests on four factors that purportedly explain Pakistani support for militancy: poverty; personal religiosity and approval of sharia law; support for legal Islamist political parties; and failure to support democracy. A survey of the sentiments of the Pakistani public, however, shows that these conventional wisdoms may be mistaken. To undermine support for militant groups, therefore, policymakers must pay greater attention to determining who supports militant organizations.

"The Myth of Military Myopia: Democracy, Small Wars, and Vietnam"
Jonathan D. Caverley

The problems of fighting an insurgency with a firepower- and capital-intensive strategy are well known, yet democracies have failed to adopt more effective strategies. Scholars have identified military bureaucracy and culture to explain this tendency, but it can also be attributed to a desire to shift the cost of war away from the less-wealthy voter, who is more apt to support less-effective, but less labor-intensive strategies, if they lower the cost of fighting. This theory explains Lyndon Johnson's decision to pursue a suboptimal counterinsurgency strategy in the Vietnam War.

"Powerplay: Origins of the U.S. Alliance System in Asia" Victor D. Cha

The United States generally prefers to pursue multilateral security alliances to support its national and international interests. In East Asia, however, it chose a different approach after World War II. Both the Truman and Eisenhower administrations cultivated a "hub-and-spokes" system of bilateral alliances with South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan based on a "powerplay" rationale: Washington wanted to contain the Soviet threat while preventing leaders of the so-called rogue allies from involving the United States in an unwanted war. The United States' bilateral alliances with South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan remain in place today.

- Compiled by International Security staff

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: International Security Journal Highlights.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Spring 2010).