Deterrence with China: Avoiding Nuclear Miscalculation
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV FORT MCNAIR DC
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As China rises and the United States seeks to maintain its global dominance, the world is faced with a new historical phenomenon a dramatic shift in power between two nuclear-capable nations. As the relative power of each nation nears parity, tension is inevitable and the character of the evolving Sino-U.S. relationship poses a risk of nuclear miscalculation. Nuclear use between China and the United States would be a catastrophe, but China is an independent actor, and the United States can only influence, but not control, the crossing of the nuclear threshold. If U.S. policymakers neglect this risk, miscalculation is more likely. This article analyzes nuclear deterrence principles with China across the spectrum of peacetime, conventional crisis or conflict, and nuclear war. If the United States finds itself in a crisis or conflict with China, it would be important to know how the United States achieved deterrence in peacetime as well as how deterrence might be regained if a crisis deteriorates to the point of involving nuclear weapons. The article then makes recommendations on how to enhance nuclear deterrence. By assessing the full spectrum of potential conflict in this manner, the United States can lower the risk of miscalculation.
- Government and Political Science