Nuclear Deterrence Theory

Nuclear Deterrence Theory : The Search for Credibility

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Applying advances in game theory to the study of nuclear deterrence, Robert Powell examines the foundations of deterrence theory. Game-theoretic analysis allows the author to explore some of the most complex and problematic issues in deterrence theory, including the effects of first-strike advantages, limited retaliation, and the number of nuclear powers in the international system on the dynamics of escalation. With the formalizations he develops, the author is able to demonstrate the fundamental similarity of the two seemingly disparate deterrrent strategies that have evolved in response to the nuclear revolution and the condition of mutually assured destruction: the strategy of limited retaliation. The author argues that the logic underlying both strategies centres on a search for ways to make the use of force or the threat of its use credible when any use of force might escalate to mutual devastation.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 155 x 234 x 18mm | 342g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Worked examples or Exercises
  • 052106399X
  • 9780521063999
  • 1,342,938

Table of contents

Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. The nuclear revolution and the problem of credibility; 3. The dynamics of nuclear brinkmanship; 4. Stability and longer brinkmanship crises; 5. Crisis stability in the nuclear age; 6. Stability and the lack of control; 7. The strategy of limited retaliation; 8. An appraisal; Appendix: some introductory notes on game theory; References; Index.
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Review quote

"...the most serious and most productive application of the formal game theory to the study of deterrence and the outbreak of war...this is the first book-length treatment I have seen that makes successful use of game theory in exploring the most elusive aspects of this subject." Thomas Schelling, author of The Strategy of Conflict
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