H-Diplo/ISSF Roundtable 11-17 on Lanoszka. Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation

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H-Diplo | ISSF Roundtable XI-17

Alexander Lanoszka.  Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation.  Ithaca:  Cornell University Press 2018.   ISBN:  9781501729188 (hardcover).

1 June 2020 | https://issforum.org/to/ir11-17
Editor: Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor: Jennifer L. Erickson | Production Editor: George Fujii


Introduction by Timothy W. Crawford, Boston College

Alexander Lanoszka’s Atomic Assurance is about the alliance politics of nuclear proliferation.[1]  It centers on an elementary security relationship—between the quality of protection a country gets from others and its impulse to secure itself by arming. In this instance, the ‘protection’ is a guarantor’s policy of extended nuclear deterrence; the self-arming alternative is a nuclear weapon (or steps to obtain one).  The contemporary policy relevance of Atomic Assurance is hard to exaggerate.  It helps us to understand the extent to which superpower alliance guarantees did (or did not) curb allies’ proliferation during the Cold War, and whether they may do so (or not) in years ahead.

Although the empirical focus is a distinctly post-1945 phenomenon, its theoretical scheme draws from many of the heuristic building blocks that have always shaped serious thinking about alliance politics.  Thus, in this compact and efficient book, we find the usual bouts of conflict between states trying hard to cooperate, while managing the inevitable trade-offs between autonomy and abandonment, external and internal balancing, defense and deterrence, and reassurance and restraint.

On such conceptual foundations, Atomic Assurance builds several major arguments.  They are discussed at length in the reviews that follow, so they will get but a bare-bones summary here.  First, a guarantor’s extended deterrence commitments may keep allies from exploring a nuclear option, so long as its formal pledges are backstopped by established doctrines and forward deployed forces designed to defend them conventionally.  Second, if the guarantor adjusts those doctrines or force postures in ways which seem to indicate an erosion of commitment to conventional defense, it is liable to inspire the ally to begin developing a nuclear option.  Third, when it comes to stopping these moves, alliance coercion by the guarantor (via, for example, threats to further reduce or withhold protection) matter less than its ability to manipulate economic and technological dependencies.  To test these propositions, and several well-chosen competing ones, Atomic Assurance dives into three major cases in which close U.S. allies—West Germany, South Korea, and Japan—did initiate (and then reverse) steps toward building a bomb during the Cold War, along with five more mini-cases, involving Britain, France, Norway, Australia and Taiwan. The process tracing (especially in the three major cases), lends considerable support to the major propositions, particularly the first two concerning the conditions that inhibit or stimulate allies’ nuclear moves.  In sum, the case studies show that even for American Cold War allies possessing “grade-A” guarantees—rooted in formal, relatively robust, alliance commitments, and foreign policy doctrines—such declaratory measures were not enough to stop them from exploring the nuclear option as a hedge against abandonment. To gin up the assurance needed to accomplish that, the U.S. had to both forward deploy conventional forces on their territory, and then maintain them at a stable level. 

In general, the three reviewers find much value in Atomic Assurance.  For Paul van Hooft, it is an “important” and “thoughtful contribution” that shows “convincingly” the “crucial” importance of “U.S. forward deployed forces” for preventing allied nuclear activity.  For Stéfanie von Hlatky, its “careful” and “meticulous” analysis demonstrates that extended deterrence is not “as efficient a tool for nuclear nonproliferation,” as is often believed.  To Jeffrey Taliaferro, it offers an “impressive” and “welcome addition to the literature on nuclear nonproliferation and intra-alliance bargaining.” It is not possible to do justice here to the richness of the reviewers’ commentary, or to the depth of dialogue in the author’s responses.  Instead I will simply draw attention to the major contours of exchange.

The reviewers are in agreement about the primary strengths of the book. Above all, they recognize the force of its most central claims—that the presence and expected persistence of forward deployed forces is key to dissuading allied nuclear activity and that the prospect of drawdowns feeds fears that inspire nuclear explorations.  This, in von Hlatky’s judgement, is the book’s “most riveting” and ‘irrefutable” argument, and in van Hooft’s estimate, its “most valuable,” and “important” intervention.  With it, as Taliaferro notes, Atomic Assurance “succeeds in [the] task” of explaining the critical issue of timing  that is covered in crucial cases—that is, why close U.S. allies explored the nuclear option when they did.

The reviewers also call attention to a number of features of Lanoszka’s analytical approach that help us to discern the relationship between the guarantor and its ally’s propensity to explore the bomb. Thus, as van Hooft emphasizes, the case-study framework reveals the “dynamic” rather than “static” quality of allies’ beliefs about the credibility of US commitments to them.  Those beliefs, which are not fixed by the overarching alliance construct, are sensitive to and updated in light of more immediately revelatory indices—i.e., the guarantor’s articulated doctrinal priorities and, especially, conventional force positions. When those slacken, confidence wanes.  The disclosure of this pattern, writes van Hooft, is “most valuable” in light of “current questions raised about long-term U.S. commitments,” a point we will return to below.

Second, they find virtue in the construction of the dependent variable as a continuum of nuclear proliferation-related behavior that includes preliminary activities below the thresholds of testing and weaponization that creep toward a bomb.  By doing this, writes Taliaferro, “Lanoszka is not only able to expand the number of cases, but also to trace and explain a range of such behavior by each ally over time.” (However, as we shall see, von Hlatky raises an important question about what is left out in this way of framing the dependent variable).

Third, the reviewers commend the value of distinguishing between, as van Hooft puts it, “preventing nuclear activity and reversing it with leverage,” or, as Taliaferro puts it, between “deterring potential proliferation” and “curbing actual proliferation.” With this move, Lanoszka gives us, once again, a better feel for the dynamic process of non-proliferation alliance politics, while channeling a basic maxim of influence theory, namely, that it is easier to dissuade behavior than to reverse it after it is has been undertaken.[2]

Fourth, the reviewers welcome the extent to which Lanoszka’s case studies survey alternative causes of allies’ retreats from pro-nuclear activity (apart from any pressure from the guarantor).  From such accounting of competing hypotheses, notes Taliaferro, comes Atomic Assurance’s significant challenge to the recent “conventional wisdom” that the U.S. “played the decisive role in thwarting the nuclear weapons ambitions of its Cold War allies.” Von Hlatky agrees: Lanoszka “delivers” on his promise to show that alliance pressure was not the only key cause of restraint.”

Fifth, the reviewer praise the rich process tracing in the cases. One virtue of the richness of the empirical narratives is that it yields insights beyond assessments of specific theoretical claims, to reveal perspectives on the alliance politics in question that are otherwise easy to miss.  For instance, as Taliaferro observes, the case-study narratives show that subordinate allies had a lot more “agency” than one might expect, given the asymmetry of power and dependence in their relations with the guarantor.

The reviewers also level several critiques that touch on important issues in the book and for the broader study of nonproliferation alliance politics.  These involve concerns about the scope and generalizability of the theory, the menu of allies’ responses to perceived decline in protection, and the causal weighting of sources of restraint or reversal of pro-nuclear activity.

With respect to generalizability, van Hooft suggests that the book’s central theoretical claims may reflect unique characteristics of the U.S. strategic position relative to its front-line Cold War allies.  Although the theory is pitched in general terms, the book focuses for the most part on U.S.-ally dyads, and the U.S. may be in a “class of its own” as a maker of extended nuclear deterrence commitments.  Related to this, van Hooft raises two possibilities.  First, that the theory may not hold as well for cases of Soviet and Chinese extended deterrence relationships.  Second, that the unique insular position of U.S. may have made stable forward deployments more necessary for reassuring its allies than would have been the case for a guarantor located closer to both allies and the threats they faced.  As Lanoszka, in his response, distills the issue, “could regional powers like France or Great Britain have more ‘skin in the game’ by virtue of geography and thus be more credible security guarantors than a superpower located an ocean way”?  Lanoszka’s response to these queries marshals a good deal of logic and evidence (some of which was published in a recent article) which I need not detail here.[3]  I will just note that the matter goes deeper into the core problem of credibility in nuclear extended deterrence than is suggested by the standard “trip wire” image, to include other basic questions about the interactive relationship between defense and deterrence.[4]

With regard to the dependent variable—that is, how an ally reacts to fears that its patron’s commitment is eroding—von Hlatky reminds us that allies have “more options than just relying on the guarantor versus going nuclear.” Acknowledging that problem of elision, Lanoszka not only encourages a wider consideration of ally options but points to examples of such untheorized responses in his cases.  In the book, moreover, he argues that pro-nuclear action is not an “inevitable” response to reduced forward deployments, because a patron can offset them with more reassuring doctrinal or force postures (157).  Still, the general problem remains that when allies do lose confidence in the patron’s commitment—for whatever reason—they can try to remedy the bind without playing the pro-nuclear card (most obviously, by accommodating the adversary). At first glance, the issue here may seem to be largely theoretical—another round in the eternal tug-of-war between theoretical parsimony and descriptive richness.  But upon it hangs a problem of great policy-relevance.  It is hinted at in von Hlatky’s conclusion: “if Atomic Assurances is a story of allies wanting nuclear weapons because they are driven by doubts about U.S. reliability, then choppy waters may lie ahead.” It is put more pointedly by van Hooft: if Lanoszka’s theory is right, the U.S. “has very little maneuver room” to curtail its alliance commitments in ways that proponents of “restraint” and “off-shore balancing” would prescribe.  If the linkage between reduced forward deployments and allies’ pro-nuclear activity is as direct and automatic as Lanoszka’s theory suggests (and major cases indicate), then retrenchment is a recipe for rampant proliferation.[5] If, on the other hand, anxious allies have other ways to soothe their fears than go for the bomb, then retrenchment may be easier and less dangerous.

The reviewers also notice the importance of factors not captured by the main theory that influence outcomes in the cases, or how we interpret their sources.  To be clear, the book does not underplay such matters, but the reviewers help to crystalize their significance.  On the one side, as van Hooft stresses, an ally’s domestic political impulses, or its regional “peer-to-peer” concerns, may be doing a lot to promote restraint or reversal in certain cases.  On the other, as von Hlatky emphasizes, the patron’s prioritization of non-proliferation, relative to other grand strategic interests, may affect how much or little it applies pressure on an ally to refrain from or reverse pro-nuclear activity.  (A reversal in the face of relatively little pressure from the guarantor, as appears in the Japan case, suggests that other things mattered more).  It is precisely because Lanoszka deals with such confounding forces in the cases, in such a careful and even-handed fashion, that readers are sensitized to how much play they have.  Indeed, though sifting through over-determining causes renders fine-grained inferences problematic, the study’s accounting of them is in an important way a feature, not a bug.  For it forms the foundation of one of Atomic Assurance’s main critiques of related studies in which, as von Hlatky sums it, “alliance pressure is often overestimated in accounts of why allies halt nuclear proliferation-related activities.”

Finally, the book also raises some important questions about nonproliferation politics that fall outside the alliance-control focus of its analytical apparatus.  The reviewers direct us two very important ones.  First, Atomic Assurance’s conclusion that U.S. coercion did less to stop allies’ nuclear activity than we might think, suggests something about its broader utility against proliferating adversaries.  As Taliaferro puts it, “the limits of U.S. coercive diplomacy in achieving nonproliferation outcomes, even in disputes with allies,” implies a wider problem.  Von Hlatky nails it down: “why would we expect [such coercive tactics] to work with adversaries like North Korea or Iran?” Second, there is, as she notes, a “crucial point” contained in the book—“American administrations care about nonproliferation with varying levels of intensity.” This means, of course, that nonproliferation need not retain the high place in U.S. strategic priorities that it might seem to today.  Thus, van Hooft asks: “Should we in fact even assume that the U.S. continues to have an overriding interest in nonproliferation.” If the answer is “no” then the question of whether coercion is very effective in stopping nuclear spread loses some of its urgency.  If the answer is “yes” then it poses a fairly radical challenge to the hawkish approach to counter-proliferation that is a persistent feature of the primacy-program of U.S. grand strategy.


Alexander Lanoszka is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo.

Timothy W. Crawford is an associate professor of political science at Boston College.  His forthcoming book is The Power to Divide: Wedge Strategies in Great Power Competition (Cornell University Press, 2021).  He is also author of Pivotal Deterrence: Third-Party Statecraft and the Pursuit of Peace (Cornell University Press, 2003), and co-editor (with Alan J. Kuperman) of Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention: Moral Hazard, Rebellion, and Civil War (Routledge, 2006).

Paul van Hooft is a 2019-2020 strategy fellow at the Security Studies Program (SSP) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and was previously a 2018-2019 Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the SSP.  His work focuses on the origins and logic of American grand strategy; European grand strategy and strategic autonomy; transatlantic relations; alliances; and (extended) nuclear deterrence.  Paul attained his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) from 2016 to 2018.  He received the 2016 prize from the Dutch and Flemish political science associations for his dissertation on the impact of experiences with war on postwar grand strategy.

Stéfanie von Hlatky is an associate professor of political studies at Queen’s University and the former Director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP).  She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Université de Montréal in 2010.  She has published in Canadian Journal of Political Science, Contemporary Security Policy, the Journal of Global Security Studies, European Security, Asian Security, as well as the Journal of Transatlantic Studies.  She published a monograph with Oxford University Press titled American Allies in Times of War: The Great Asymmetry (2013) and four edited volumes, including Transhumanizing War: Performance Enhancement and the Implications for Policy, Society, and the Soldier (co-edited with H. Christian Breede and Stéphanie Bélanger) with McGill-Queen’s University Press (2020). 

Jeffrey W. Taliaferro is Professor of Political Science at Tufts University.  His most recent book is Defending Frenemies: Alliance Politics and Nuclear Nonproliferation in U.S. Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press, 2019).  He is also the author of Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery (Cornell University Press, 2004); co-author, with Norrin M. Ripsman and Steven E. Lobell, of Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics (Oxford University Press, 2016); and co-editor, also with Ripsman and Lobell, of The Challenge of Grand Strategy: The Great Powers and the Broken Balance between the World Wars (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Neoclassical Realism, the State, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2009).



Review by Paul van Hooft, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alexander Lanoszka’s thoughtful book, Atomic Assurance: The Alliance Politics of Nuclear Proliferation, seeks to answer the question how alliances can best reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation. Its focus is on the tools at the disposal of a guarantor of extended nuclear deterrence, how it can curb the efforts of allies to acquire nuclear weapons, and possibly reverse their efforts (10).  Lanoszka traces the link between U.S. alliance policies and (non)proliferation in three Cold War case studies of U.S. allies: West Germany (1954-1970); Japan (1952-1980); and South Korea (1968-1980).  An additional chapter with five other cases of Cold War U.S. alignments with actual (Great Britain, France) and aspiring (Norway, Australia, Taiwan) proliferators further substantiates the argument.  In the book, Lanoszka puts forward five propositions: military alliances might not keep allies from seeking nuclear weapons; the guarantor’s in theater conventional forces are crucial to reassure the ally; U.S. coercion of actual or potential proliferators plays less of a role than is assumed;  economic or technological reliance of a security dependent ally instead works better to reverse or halt a program; and deterring an ally from initiating a program is easier than terminating one that is already underway (10). 

The book’s central and most powerful argument is that the foreign policy doctrine and conventional military deployments of the U.S. play a decisive role in reassuring its allies.  Lanoszka convincingly shows across multiple cases in Europe and Asia how allies were persuaded by the physical presence of U.S. forward deployed forces that the U.S. had “skin in the game” (15, 27), and this dissuaded them from pursuing nuclear weapons. 

Extended nuclear deterrence remains a fascinating and difficult problem to grapple with, both from the perspective of the guarantor and from that of the ally.  Glenn Snyder’s ‘alliance dilemma’ addresses the problem to some extent: allies face the dual risks that the other will abandon them at the time of conflict or conversely drag them into a conflict not in their interest.[6] However, when it comes to alliances that involve nuclear weapons, the alliance dilemma only partially captures the extent of the problem. The potential costs of entrapment for the guarantor are extremely severe, and the costs and benefits are distributed unevenly between guarantor and allies.  To believe that a state will risk not only its armed forces but the very survival of its society on behalf of an ally’s security is an inherently dubious proposition.[7] It then stands to reason that an ally would be motivated to acquire its own nuclear weapon and to independently ensure its security (16). This particular problem is perfectly captured in the often-cited anecdote in which President Charles De Gaulle asked President Dwight Eisenhower whether he would be willing to sacrifice American cities for Paris, Brussels, or Berlin (139).  Indeed, the French leadership could not believe that nuclear deterrence could encompass anything but vital national interests, and consequently they successfully pursued an autonomous deterrent for France (138-140).  In fact, U.S. officials themselves hardly believed it: Lanoszka cites Eisenhower’s own doubts whether the U.S. would actually use nuclear weapons for anything other than the defense of the U.S. (55).[8] Forward-based forces ensured the U.S. had sunk costs in allied security (16), and consequently signaled that the U.S. might be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice on their behalf. [9] 

To clarify the linkages between nuclear strategy, conventional force posture, alliance politics, and proliferation is the book’s most valuable contribution.  While Lanoszka does not suggest this is a new insight,[10] in Atomic Assurance he makes the argument in a structured and comparative manner by process tracing the decisions of policymakers in the three main cases.  The empirics are convincing and the policy outcomes are weighed against the rival explanations of the level of the threat from the adversary, domestic politics, and national prestige (22-25).

Particularly revealing is how the book shows that allies did not - and do not - have a static perception of the U.S. commitment to their security, but one that varied over time.  The possibility of (re)initiating indigenous nuclear programs never entirely disappeared.  The book contains evocative examples from the cases: for example, an unsubstantiated 1956 report in the New York Times about the withdrawal of U.S. forces was enough to prompt German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to initiate talks with France and Italy for a joint nuclear program (57-58). The problem of extended nuclear deterrence is also not one that is confined to the Cold War era: President Donald Trump has threatened to move forces from the territories of European and Asian allies, and thereby triggered some to reconsider their non-proliferation stances.[11] Atomic Assurance is therefore an important and also, unfortunately, a timely book.

This does not mean that, despite that important and welcome contribution, the book does not have some issues.  The main one is how generalizable the theory is.  Lanoszka purports to offer a “rigorous and predictive” (14) theory of the alliance policies available to an unspecified, generic guarantor to prevent proliferation.  Just a few examples from the text that signal this ambition: “guarantors like” (6, 63), “the guarantor” (6, 18); “a guarantor” (155).  It suggests that the book not only examines multiple cases of guarantors, but that multiple cases exist to can be examined.

However, how many guarantors of extended nuclear deterrence can we find besides the United States and how many alliances “like NATO” (155) have existed?  In the final chapter, the book briefly examines the two other nuclear powers that extended nuclear deterrence to their allies: the Soviet Union and China. Yet, it only devotes one page (155-156) to them and does not explicitly address all the propositions or the alternative explanations that have previously been identified.  One feels a missed opportunity of sorts.  At the very least the book would need to provide more justification for why the Soviet Union and China cannot tell us much about the alliance policies of guarantors.  This creates some tension within the book between the objective of making a more general argument and picking apart the patterns in Cold War U.S. alliance policies and proliferation attempts and their implications for the current era.  Indeed, it is more accurate to say that the book addresses the more specific question of “how American security guarantees can forestall nuclear proliferation” (155), as well as, implicitly, what the limits of those U.S. policies are.

Simply put, the U.S. is in a class of its own and the only case to which the theory is fully applicable.  This does not make the book less interesting or important; the U.S. would be a fascinating case of a guarantor of extended deterrence even without the additional complicating factor of nuclear weapons.  The U.S. is more secure than any other major power in history has been,[12] and remote from the states to which it is extending deterrence.[13] While extended deterrence of any kind is an inherently dubious proposition, it therefore might be particularly difficult for the United States to act as a guarantor. Arguably this is precisely why the physical presence of U.S. armed forces in or near allied territories is so important for U.S. alliance commitments.  As Lanoszka notes (4), over half of the thirty or so states that considered nuclear weapons were aligned with the U.S., while only three states that had defensive alliances with the Soviet Union did the same (China, North Korea, Romania). Part of the explanation undoubtedly lies in the less than voluntary nature of the relationship of the Warsaw Pact countries to the Soviet Union, in contrast to that of the European and Asian allies to the United States.  Yet, despite the considerable efforts of the U.S. to reassure them – whether through alliance commitments, economic assistance, political support, military aid, and conventional presence - its allies had good reasons to doubt the U.S. commitment and to fear the United States’ decoupling from their security.

Would guarantors located within a region fare better in terms of credibility were they to offer extended nuclear deterrence guarantees?  For example, what if France or the UK offered extended deterrence to the rest of Europe?  Would France need a forward deployed physical presence commensurate with that of the U.S., or would more minimal numbers, such as those currently part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP), suffice?  (Of course, strictly speaking, the concept of extended deterrence is incompatible with current French doctrine).[14] French presidents have repeatedly stated that they would consider an attack on Europe as an attack on France’s vital interests.[15]  Does that constitute enough ‘skin in the game’ for France to be believable to other European states and to an adversary?[16] During the Cold War, the French and  British deterrents were intended to add additional uncertainty to the calculations of the Soviet Union. Did they add additional certainty to the calculations of NATO allies, despite their lack of explicit guarantees?

In a similar vein, somewhat under-examined in the book are the peer-to-peer dynamics within the alliances, such as those between France, Germany and the UK, and between Japan and South Korea.  Did these add or subtract from the security felt by allies and the perceived need to acquire nuclear weapons?  Was acquiring nuclear weapons a way to pull ahead from the regional pack?  Lanoszka notes the example of West Germany’s outlook on the British and French nuclear programs (62), as well as those of others.  However, how do these dynamics fit into the story told here?  Is the U.S. more acceptable as an external guarantor of European or Asian security precisely because it is not a regional competitor to these states?  While that might apply to the conventional balance of forces within the region,[17] it seems less intuitive as a motivation for why regional states would accept the U.S. as an external guarantor of extended nuclear deterrence.  It seems to me that these issues would also need to be addressed within a theory about alliance politics, specifically because the different dynamics between the U.S. and its allies within the multilateral NATO system and within the hub-and-spokes East Asian system.

The book’s contribution may therefore fall short of a generalizable theory about guarantors of extended nuclear deterrence, but I do agree that it goes a long way towards its ambition of offering a “more sophisticated view of how abandonment fears wax and wane,” unlike many accounts where “abandonment fears are constant, resulting either from the institutional design of the alliance or from idiosyncratic circumstances” (14). It is the examination of the variation over time that is most valuable, especially considering the current questions raised about long-term U.S. commitments.  Moreover, Lanoszka makes an interesting distinction between policies where the U.S. is preventing attempts at proliferation and those where it tries to reverse them through various forms of political.  It also prompts other questions.  Are the other elements of policy that the U.S. as a guarantor might employ, such as exploiting economic or technological dependencies of allies on the U.S., still applicable outside of the Cold War context?  Are many of the potential proliferators among allies of the U.S. still as dependent on the United States for their protection?

Unavoidably, despite the book’s structured approach, the argument becomes messier when the additional cases are considered.  After all, non-proliferation is overdetermined as an outcome in most of the cases, and the alternative explanations in addition to U.S. alliance policies are non-exclusive (22).  This may perhaps explain the focus on the U.S. and the conservative selection of its three major cases.  Parsing which causes mattered most becomes difficult.  For example, Lanoszka notes that Norway’s and Australia’s decisions to abandon their respective nuclear programs seem stories of domestic politics rather than U.S. alliance policies (140-143).  He indeed emphasizes that the record of military alliances in curbing nuclear proliferation is less clear than some scholars suggest (147).[18] If this is indeed the case, are we back to Dan Reiter’s conclusion that the conventional presence of the U.S. does not shape (non)proliferation among its allies?[19] The book could have addressed why U.S. policies matter(ed) more for certain cases than for others, and specifically, why domestic politics can supersede both the perceived level of external threat and U.S. pressures in a few of them.

On a final note, the book concludes that the U.S. might not have the same clout over its allies as it did during the Cold War to prevent them from proliferating, though it may well continue to hold military and technological advantages over its adversaries (158).  However, if one accepts the book’s argument, one will conclude that the U.S. in fact currently also has little leeway to change its current alliance policies.  The U.S. will need much of the forces currently deployed to Europe and especially to Asia to remain in place in order to underline that it continues to have “skin in the game.” What does this mean regarding calls for U.S. grand strategies of restraint or offshore balancing?[20] Are they doomed to fail, or, alternatively, are these strategies of retrenchment destined to lead to proliferation among current U.S. allies?  Should we in fact even assume that the U.S. continues to have an overriding interest in nonproliferation, even though Lanoszka notes that those interests have been variable in the past (6)?  One wonders what the author believes the worthwhile price is for this particular policy objective. That the book sparks several such follow-up questions, however, is proof of its analytical strengths and its relevance to policy.


Review by Stéfanie von Hlatky, Queen’s University

Can alliance politics prevent or halt nuclear proliferation? The suggestion that nonproliferation might be counted as an alliance benefit is a topic of discussion for International Relations (IR) scholars, although it might seem absurd to the casual observer of international politics.  After all, if the U.S. needs to pressure its friends to prevent them from going nuclear, America’s alliance relationships are probably not all that solid to begin with.  What IR scholarship, like Alexander Lanoszka’s Atomic Assurances, brings to our understanding, however, is that credible security commitments provided through extended deterrence arrangements can circumvent this awkward situation.

Extended deterrence means that a state acts as a guarantor of an ally’s territorial integrity against a potential adversary, but it can take many forms and is certainly not stable over time.  Indeed, Lanoszka shows that all U.S. presidents have sought to drawdown troops abroad at one point or another (29) and provides great background on this in his summary of Cold War American security guarantees, covering the period from 1949-1980.  Understanding the implications of changes in U.S. commitments to American allies is where we can most clearly situate the contributions that Lanoszka makes in his new book.

Lanoszka’s core argument is that alliance adjustments by the guarantor, in this case the United States, can provoke nuclear proliferation by its allies.  Once that process is activated, insecurity sets in, which in turn leads protégés to consider their nuclear options, a process which is difficult to stop once it is set in motion.  The guarantor is not powerless, however, and can resort to nonproliferation tools such as reassurance, nuclear sharing, abandonment threats, and economic pressure (27).  By resorting to both inducements and coercive strategies, the guarantor can thus attempt to restore the status quo, but Lanoszka convincingly demonstrates that alliance pressure is often overestimated in accounts of why allies halt nuclear proliferation-related activities. 

To make his case, Lanoszka pours over the historical record, with a careful analysis of archival material and the secondary literature.  He proposes a controlled structured comparison of three most-likely cases, namely West Germany, Japan and South Korea, but also tests the logic of his argument on other allies in an additional chapter with shorter case studies (which include Norway, France, Great Britain, and Australia). While I would qualify the style of the book as rigidly academic, the fact that his propositions are clearly laid out and that competing explanations are meticulously accounted for in each empirical chapter means that all of the bases are covered and that the cases are as compelling as they can be. The reader catches a glimpse of Lanoszka’s more relaxed writing style in the conclusion, where the author makes allusions to current events, like President Donald Trump’s earlier comments about encouraging Asian allies to get nuclear weapons or his troubling nuclear rhetoric on Twitter.

Let us start with the most riveting aspects of Lanoszka’s book, which is that the key to preventing nuclear proliferation by allies seems to be credible conventional military deployments.  The evidence presented in the book is very convincing: changes to these types of assurances are the most likely to set off proliferation-type behavior by allies.  What is less clear, however, is what ultimately explains allied behavior when they renounce their nuclear ambitions.  Lanoszka brings this into focus by nuancing some of the earlier claims made in the literature that give too much credit to America’s coercive influence over its allies.[21] This nuance is welcome and will likely encourage other scholars to further examine the complexity of alliance reliability, the limits of American inducements, and coercive tactics as well as the range of factors that bear on the decision to go down the path of nuclear proliferation.

A crucial point that is made in the book, although only in passing, is that American administrations care about nonproliferation with varying levels of intensity.  This could have been given more attention because it presents challenges to Lanoszka’s analysis of certain cases, especially Japan.  Lanoszka does present evidence that Japan worried about U.S. troop drawdowns and that Tokyo considered a nuclear weapons program, but it is not clear that the U.S. was worried about it.  For a book that investigates the connection between alliance politics and nuclear proliferation, this case is not as exciting as some of the others.  That Japan ended up ratifying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) primarily for domestic reasons is in itself very interesting, but it is not clear that U.S. coercive efforts failed or that they were attempted at all.  By the author’s own admission, Washington did “not push Tokyo too far” (95).  Indeed, Washington’s warnings were cryptic at best.  While Lanoszka writes that “one should not overstate American insouciance,” it seems that the United States did not see Japan’s ambivalent stance toward the NPT as sufficiently threatening for Washington to adopt coercive tactics against its ally (97). Had the American security commitment been seen as infallible, would this nuclear curiosity on the part of Tokyo have been entirely absent? Lanoszka accounts for alternative explanations, but could have engaged in more counterfactual reasoning given the limitations of this case.

Another area where Lanoszka’s book will probably stimulate discussion is in presenting the choices that allies face as a “nuclear straightjacket,” to borrow Benoit Pelopidas’s terminology.[22] Pelopidas presents the nuclear straightjacket as the idea that allies only have two options: relying on the security commitments of the guarantor or acquiring nuclear weapons independently. While scholars like Pelopidas might concede that leaders see the severity of the adversarial threat as a function of the reliability of the alliance, it is less clear that this pushes them to nuclear proliferation, as there are more options than just relying on the guarantor versus going nuclear. These options could have been discussed at greater length in the book, but ultimately, both Pelopidas and Lanoszka can find common ground in the realization that nuclear extended deterrence, on its own, has not been as efficient a tool for nuclear nonproliferation as has previously been assumed.

As an additional point, and because I enjoyed the book thoroughly, I would even implore the author to add one more chapter should there be a next edition.  This chapter might include more background on the adoption and ratification process of the NPT, in order to allow readers to better understand how allies engage in public signaling on non-proliferation. Were there interesting differences between states that ratified the treaty early versus those that did not?  When Japan and West Germany objected to certain terms of the treaty, were they not echoing the concerns of a broader constituency of states that criticized the fairness of its terms?  Lanoszka only begins to scratch the surface when referring to Japan and West Germany’s stance toward the NPT: “one objection was how the treaty might legitimize a new international hierarchy that would consign nonnuclear power to subordinate status despite their economical superiority (101).” The politics surrounding the NPT’s adoption are indeed fascinating and more on this critical historical juncture would be welcome to put things in context.

Ultimately, what Lanoszka brings to the debate is that alliance pressure is not the only important factor in inhibiting proliferation behavior by allies.  But his historical case studies nevertheless show that they are front and centre, even if they have less weight than in other published accounts.  This pressure is not always coercive and it is often more indirect than assumed, which is important, because multiple factors are at play and they tend to get sidelined by the widespread assumption that these allies probably abandoned nuclear aspirations because it displeased the United States. In this respect, Lanoszka definitely delivers on his promise, which is to show that “military alliances played less of a role in forestalling nuclear proliferation than often assumed” (132).

The book drives home an important lesson, that alliance adjustments are risky and should be handled with care (or not at all).  If Atomic Assurances is a story of allies wanting nuclear weapons because they are driven by doubts about U.S. reliability, then choppy waters may lie ahead.  Perhaps even more discouraging is to think about the implications of his argument for nonproliferation with adversaries: if U.S. coercive tactics fail to curb the proliferation behaviour of allies, why would we expect these to work with adversaries like North Korea or Iran?


Review by Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, Tufts University

Alexander Lanoszka’s recent book, Atomic Assurance, seeks to answer to two questions: How could the United States design its commitments to concurrently mitigate the alliance security dilemma and nuclear proliferation risks?  And, to what extent were these asymmetric alliances responsible for curbing nuclear proliferation by Cold War treaty allies, such as the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany), the Republic of Korea (the ROK or South Korea), and Japan?

This impressive book challenges what has become conventional wisdom among scholars of nuclear proliferation and alliance politics over the past several years, namely that the United States played the decisive role in thwarting the nuclear weapons ambitions of its Cold War allies.  The specific hypotheses Lanoszka challenges include the following: The mere existence of a bilateral or multilateral defense pact with the United States actually reduced its allies’ willingness and ability to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. The timely application of U.S. coercive diplomacy, including the credible threat of economic sanctions, helped thwart nuclear weapons development or at least forestall actual nuclear weapons tests by various allies.[23] Officials in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Ford administrations even went so far as to threaten West Germany and South Korea with a complete severance of security ties if their nuclear proliferation-related activities did not cease. Finally, nuclear nonproliferation, alongside the maintenance of an open global economy and the containment of rival great powers, has consistently been a pillar of U.S. grand strategy since 1945.[24]

The core argument of Lanoszka’s book is that treaty alliances with the United States were an effective deterrent to potential nuclear weapons acquisition by allies, but only where in-theater deployments of U.S. conventional forces remained stable over time.  Overall, such alliances were more effective in deterring potential proliferation than in curbing actual proliferation.  In other words, it was far easier for the United States to dissuade an ally from initiating a nuclear weapons program in the first place, than it was to coerce an ally into abandoning an existing weapons program.  What was critical was the ally’s expectation that in-theater deployment of U.S. conventional forces would remain stable.  When allied leaders feared U.S. conventional forces would be withdrawn, they had an incentive to contemplate nuclear proliferation irrespective of the current level of threat posed by a local adversary.  “Stick-based” nonproliferation strategies, such as the superpower guarantor’s threat of additional troop withdrawals or cancellation of the alliance altogether, would be counterproductive because they only exacerbate the ally’s abandonment fear.[25] Instead, the “best possible recourse available to the [superpower] guarantor is its economic and technological power over the ally (6).” Therefore, an optimal U.S. nonproliferation strategy toward an ally should combine reassurance about in-theater conventional deployments with the implicit threat of curtailing economic and technological cooperation.[26] 

Lanoszka’s “security commitment theory” is realist because it holds that “states [engage] in nuclear proliferation-related behaviors as a response to external stimuli (23).”[27] His theory builds upon Glenn Snyder’s alliance security dilemma—specifically a protégé’s fear of abandonment and the great power patron’s fear of entrapment.[28] Both the United States and its bilateral and multilateral treaty allies faced pervasive uncertainty about one another’s future intentions, as well as the intentions of their respective adversaries. While successive U.S. presidential administrations wanted to make extended deterrence commitments credible to adversaries and allies alike, they also worried about being entrapped (or enmeshed) by reckless allies.[29] Allies, in turn, have good reasons to fear possible abandonment by Washington. Consequently, they sought tangible indicators of a U.S. security commitment.  The American nuclear umbrella, in and of itself, was not credible.  Instead, in-theater deployment of U.S. conventional troops and military equipment were more likely to be viewed as credible by the treaty ally, as well as by adversaries, because such deployments bolstered deterrence-by-denial (15-16).[30]

Lanoszka restricts the scope of his theory, and consequently his selection of cases, to proliferation disputes between the United State and its treaty allies.  Unlike non-treaty allies in dangerous regions who had every reason to doubt U.S. security commitments, all else being equal, bilateral and multilateral treaty allies ought to have had greater confidence in U.S. support.  However, even treaty allies had a baseline level of concern about possible abandonment by Washington.  Therefore, their leaders carefully monitored any changes in U.S. foreign policy doctrine.  When allied leaders anticipated or experienced unfavorable redeployments of U.S. conventional forces, their abandonment fears dramatically increased.  That said, from an ally’s perspective, ‘abandonment’ was not necessarily synonymous with an actual termination of the alliance contract.  Rather, any unwanted or sudden change in-theater conventional deployments would exacerbate abandonment fears, regardless of public and private assurances from U.S. diplomats and senior administration officials of their continued support.

Lanoszka tests hypotheses from his security commitment theory against three alternative, but not mutually exclusive, theories of nuclear proliferation: the adversary thesis, the domestic politics thesis, and the prestige thesis. The first one, largely derived from Stephen Walt’s balance-of-threat theory, holds that threats arising from a local adversary are sufficient to prompt nuclear proliferation, regardless of a superpower’s security guarantee.[31] Both Lanoszka’s theory and the adversary thesis hold that nuclear proliferation-related activities are strategic responses to other states’ material capabilities and intentions. Therefore, to empirically distinguish between the two, he examines how allied leaders perceived their external threat environment prior to any substantive changes in US security commitments (23).

The second alternative, the domestic politics thesis, which draws upon Etel Solingen’s political economy theory, holds that regime survival, rather than state security, drives nuclear proliferation-related behavior.  Outward-looking regimes favor greater integration with the global economy as a means to bolster their domestic legitimacy through economic growth. After the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (popularly known as Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or NPT) came into force in 1971, such regimes would avoid nuclear weapons development because it would lead to economic isolation.  Conversely, inward-looking regimes will try to legitimate themselves through nationalism and economic self-sufficiency.  These types of regimes will likely engage in nuclear proliferation to bolster their nationalist bona fides.[32]

The prestige thesis, the third alternative which builds upon Jacque Hyman’s psychological theory of proliferation, holds that proliferation-related activities are not the result of a rational cost-benefit calculation of external threats or regime survival, but rather the product of the belief system and prestige concerns of leaders. This thesis suggests that leaders of certain regimes—so-called oppositional nationalists—are more likely to perceive a nuclear weapon capability as symbols of international status.  Conversely, leaders from societies with strong anti-militarist norms are more likely to that conclude nuclear weapons development would undermine their state’s international prestige and standing.[33]

One of the book’s contribution lies in Lanoszka’s conception of his dependent variable: the nuclear proliferation-related behavior of the U.S. treaty ally.  As he points out, nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation are not dichotomous.  Nuclear proliferation-related behavior refer to a continuum of activities of which the actual development of nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles are at the extreme end. The decisions to assemble and test a nuclear explosive device are fundamentally political ones.  By conceptualizing the dependent variable as a range of activities, Lanoszka is not only able to expand the number of cases, but also to trace and explain a range of such behavior by each ally over time (11-13).  He writes that “any effort to acquire enrichment and reprocessing capabilities without proper safeguards or international agreements constitutes nuclear proliferation-related behavior,” adding “my definition helpfully excludes benign cases like the Netherlands and Belgium (13).” He further adds that being a non-nuclear weapons state (NNWS) signatory of the NPT does not always imply peaceful nuclear intentions.

For example, chapters 3 and 4 present controlled comparison of the nuclear proliferation-related behavior of West Germany and Japan.  Both treaty allies shared certain similarities: they were defeated World War II enemies of the United States; they had postwar liberal democratic governments; they enjoyed specular postwar economic reconstruction and growth; and they hosted a large-scale U.S. military presence.  Despite these similarities, West Germany began considering its nuclear options in the mid-1950s and maintained an ambitious stance with respect to nuclear non-proliferation until the late 1960s.  However, Japan began a strategy of nuclear hedging in the mid-1960s and continued that strategy until the mid-1970s, largely in response to uncertainty about U.S. conventional force deployments in the Japanese home islands and elsewhere in East Asia as the Vietnam War drew to a close. “Differences in their strategic situation led those two allies to vary in how they perceived changes in the security guarantee and in their subsequent behaviors (7).” It is important to note that while West Germany and Japan did develop capabilities in reprocessing and enrichment, neither actually initiated a full-fledged program to develop nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. By comparison, South Korea, which was arguably far dependent on U.S. in-theater conventional deployments than either West Germany (a land-locked frontline member of NATO) or Japan (an archipelago), did have a clandestine program develop nuclear warheads and long-range missiles—Project 890 —in the 1970s. 

Lanoszka claims the proliferation dispute between the United States and South Korea is a critical case for this theory since U.S. officials initiated plans for major troop withdrawals from the Korean peninsula on several occasions between 1968 and 1980 (8 and 110-111). These include: the Nixon administration’s withdrawal of the First Infantry Division (roughly 20,000 U.S. military personnel) in 1971, which prompted ROK president Park Chung Hee to initiate Plan 870; the Ford administration’s combined use of coercive diplomacy (e.g., threats to suspend U.S.-ROK civil nuclear cooperation and pressure on Canada and France to restrict nuclear technology exports to Seoul) and reassurance (e.g., pledges to stabilize the U.S. conventional force presence in South Korea) to convince Park to cancel a contract for a French-designed reprocessing plant in early 1976; and the Carter administration’s abortive attempt to withdraw the U.S. Second Infantry Division (the remaining 40,000 US military personnel) in 1977 and 1978, which led the Park government to continue the long-missile development team of Project 890.  In order for Lanoszka’s theory to have any validity, the magnitude of any unwanted U.S. troop deployments should have provoked a South Korean response. As chapter 5 demonstrates, Seoul’s nuclear proliferation-related activities were only comprehensible from the perspective of the decade-long crisis in the US-South Korean alliance.

Lanoszka does a superb job in providing the historical and geopolitical context of the United States’ nuclear proliferation disputes with West Germany, South Korea, and Japan, as well as a series of lesser disputes (or near disputes) with the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Australia, and Taiwan (132-148). In each of the three major cases and well as the five minor cases, uncertainty about U.S. extended-deterrence commitments led allied leaders to contemplate or actually implement nuclear proliferation-related behavior. Moreover, allies’ underlying concerns about U.S. reliability predated their initiation of nuclear proliferation-related behavior.  These disputes were not one-off coercive episodes between the superpower patron and a vulnerable protégé, but instead lasted several years.

Relatedly, Lanoszka’s major case studies illustrates how systemic and domestic constraints on the United States interacted to shape the types of conventional force deployments and later nonproliferation strategies that the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations pursued vis-à-vis West Germany, Japan, and South Korea between roughly 1954 and 1980. Again, the dependent variable of his security commitment theory is the nuclear proliferation-related behavior of the treaty ally, not the nonproliferation strategies pursued by Washington.  Nonetheless in each of the major case studies, he shows that it was anticipated shifts in the nuclear and conventional force balance between the superpowers and the need to reduce U.S. defense spending and balance-of-payment deficits that led officials in Washington to propose or implement the unwanted troop redeployments in the first place. These moves had the unintended consequence of prompting vulnerable treaty allies to engage in nuclear proliferation-related behaviors.

Lanoszka’s case studies, which are based upon extensive archival research, illustrate that strategically vulnerable allies had a great deal of agency even during the height of the Cold War.  To be sure, the degree of leverage any ally could exercise varied.  For example, as a frontline European state and a member of NATO, West Germany was arguably in a stronger bargaining position vis-à-vis the United States than were South Korea and Taiwan, who had no other allies.  That said, these treaty allies were not passive.  West German, Japanese, and South Korean leaders actively tried to influence US foreign policies and conventional force deployments to advance their own strategic interests.  For example, the governments of FRG chancellors Kurt Kiesinger and Willy Brandt were able to leverage the ambiguity about West Germany’s nuclear intentions to obtain treaty concessions from both superpowers.  These concessions, in turn, enabled Kissinger and later Brandt to implement Ostpolitik (74-75).

Likewise, Park was able to leverage the cancellation of the reprocessing plant contract to extract a pledge from the Ford administration to maintain constant U.S. conventional force levels on the Korean peninsula.  However, President Jimmy Carter’s effort to fulfill his 1976 election campaign pledge for a phased withdrawal of the U.S. Second Infantry Division nearly upended the settlement the Ford administration had reached with Park.  Ultimately, Carter’s proposed troop withdrawal and a compensatory package of arms sales to the ROK collapsed due to staunch opposition from Democrats in Congress, the uniformed military leadership, and officials in Carter’s own administration (125-128).  Nonetheless, Park, who was assassinated in October 1979, and his successor Chun Doo-Hwan were able to leverage the continuing ambiguity over South Korean nuclear intentions—specifically the maintenance of the long-missile development team within Project 890 and the continued effort by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) to acquire nuclear fuel reprocessing technology from foreign suppliers—to win concessions from the Carter and the Reagan administrations on U.S. conventional force deployments and arms transfers.

Lanoszka’s chapter on the U.S.-South Korean proliferation dispute calls into question claims made by Don Oberdorfer, a Washington Post correspondent stationed in Seoul in the mid-1970s, that various officials in the Ford administration, including Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Philip Habib, Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, and his successor, Donald Rumsfeld, threatened to terminate the U.S.-ROK Mutual Security Treaty if Park’s government pursued a nuclear weapon capability.[34] As Lanoszka notes, Oberdorfer’s account largely relies on secondary sources or published interviews with former ROK officials conducted years after the fact. As he writes, “No direct documentary evidence shows that American decision makers ever delivered an unambiguous threat linking South Korean nuclear weapons activities to the termination of the alliance (215).” This is significant because Oberdorfer’s book is one of the main sources cited by international relations scholars who assert the Ford administration threatened to militarily abandon South Korea, unless Park cancelled a contract to acquire a French-built nuclear fuel processing plant and to foreswear any plan to develop a nuclear weapon capability.[35]  

Similarly, Lanoszka’s study of the U.S.-West German proliferation dispute calls into question the effectiveness of American coercive diplomacy on Bonn’s nuclear proliferation-related behavior.  Alliance considerations were, at best, an indirect influence on West Germany’s decision not to develop a nuclear weapons program in early 1960s and later to sign the NPT in 1968.  He challenges historian Marc Trachtenberg’s claim that the Kennedy administration, fearing that the Franco-German Élysée Treaty might leave the door open for the development on an autonomous German nuclear weapons program after French president Charles de Gaulle scuttled the Multilateral Nuclear Force (MLF), used coercive diplomacy to force Adenauer’s resignation in favor of the more pliable Ludwig Erhard in October 1963.[36] Instead, as Lanoszka notes, the FRG’s governing Christian Democratic Party (CDU) had already forged a deal with its junior coalition partner, the Federal Democratic Party (FDP) for the elderly Adenauer’s departure before the next general election. He concludes, “Erhard’s accession might have suited American interests, but it did result from American meddling (70).”

Lanoszka also casts doubt on Gene Gerzhoy’s assertion that Walt Rostow, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s national security adviser, delivered an abandonment threat to Rainer Barzel, the Chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group and Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger’s special envoy, in February 1968.  Specifically, Gerzhoy claims that Rostow used the threat of military abandonment to coerce Kiesinger’s government into signing the NPT.[37] Upon closer examination of declassified documents, however, it appears that West German leaders had long since decided against acquiring an independent nuclear capability by the time Rostow allegedly made this threat to Barzel (71). Furthermore, by early 1968, the Johnson administration had already decided against trying to coerce West Germany into signing the NPT.[38]

Overall, the empirical evidence that the Kennedy and Johnson administrations actually delivered abandonment threats to the Adenauer and Kiesinger governments in 1963 and 1968, respectively, is quite weak, as is the evidence that the Ford administration made similar threats to the Park government in 1976. More importantly, in both disputes abandonment threats would have been self-defeating given the central roles of NATO and the U.S.-ROK Mutual Security Treaty in achieving overall U.S. strategic objectives: to contain the growth of Soviet power and influence in Europe and to cultivate China as an “ally of convenience” against the Soviet Union, while simultaneously drawing down U.S. troop levels in East and Southeast Asia in the 1970s.[39] Actually carrying out a threat to militarily abandon West Germany or South Korea would have jeopardized the achievement of those broader regional objectives.

Atomic Assurances is a welcome addition to the literature on nuclear nonproliferation and intra-alliance bargaining.  Lanoszka sets out to develop a mid-range theory to explain variation in the nuclear proliferation-relation behavior of various US treaty allies during the Cold War.  He not only succeeds in this task, but his detailed historical case studies also shed new insights into how the United States inadvertently precipitated these proliferation disputes with its allies in the first place.  Far from being co-equal pillars of grand strategy, the containment of the Soviet Union (and the recruitment of China as an “ally of convenience” against the Soviets) and nuclear nonproliferation were often competing objectives.  The final and perhaps most important policy contribution of Lanoszka’s book is to show the limits of U.S. coercive diplomacy in achieving nonproliferation outcomes, even in disputes with treaty allies.



Response by Alexander Lanoszka, University of Waterloo

Having your work read thoroughly by others is already quite an honor for an author. I thus feel especially fortunate to have received such insightful and engaging reviews as those written by Paul van Hooft, Stéfanie von Hlatky, and Jeffrey Taliaferro.  Beyond being humbled, I am very grateful to them for their commentaries on my book.

Before I address several issues that these three reviewers raise, I should state at the outset that my book does not flatly dismiss the role that military alliances play in nuclear proliferation.  To the contrary, as I argue in the book, provisions of extended deterrence and the military and doctrinal infrastructure that underpins them can shape allied decisions as to whether to seek nuclear weapons.  That said, I push back against claims that alliance coercion was decisive in ending certain proliferation efforts.  Alliance coercion did play a role in shaping the trajectories of those efforts, perhaps even delaying and putting firm limits on what was possible.[40] Nevertheless, as I argue below as well, the motivations for ceasing nuclear proliferation-related behavior have often been complex and multifaceted.[41]

The Ambiguities of Nuclear Proliferation Histories

In his thorough review of my book, Taliaferro correctly labels my theory as “realist,” but I do not want readers to have the impression that the book is realist in its arguments.  One reading of the book is that it provides a test for standard realist arguments about alliances and nuclear proliferation.  I believe that the “security commitment theory” most helpfully describes why U.S. treaty allies sometimes embarked on the path towards nuclear proliferation.  Nevertheless, I could not dismiss the importance of other factors.  Of the three main cases under review, West Germany, Japan, and South Korea, South Korea had the most unambiguous drive to seek sensitive nuclear technologies.  It did suffer an abrupt and major withdrawal of U.S. military personnel, one that was especially jarring for President Park Chung-hee considering his country’s participation in the Vietnam War.  Yet he was also a secretive authoritarian ruler whose ideas about nuclear deterrence seem at best vague.  I never could understand what he really hoped to achieve with a nuclear weapons capability in light of South Korea’s lack of strategic depth. I never received a satisfactory answer that connected the dots between nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, U.S.-China rapprochement, and North-South relations.[42] Even for a critical case like South Korea, given its front-line status and reliance on its security ties with the United States, a strictly realist account invites more questions than provides answers. Still, I do think that realist considerations cannot be ignored.  Setting aside whether “security commitment theory” best explains the onset of nuclear programs, I agree with Taliaferro that my three cases all varied in their leverage over the United States.  I also agree that West Germany had the most leverage, not least because it was so central to U.S. grand strategy in the Cold War.  Its importance makes me disinclined to believe that U.S. threats to abandon it had any credibility, a notion that has become popular in recent scholarly literature.[43]  

In her review, von Hlatky is especially attentive to some of the ambiguities that characterize the history of nuclear proliferation.  She makes two insightful observations that at first glance appear to concern separate issues but are in fact closely tied.  The first is that the Japanese case—or at least my telling of it—is one where the alliance dimension is most ambiguous, in part because of the aloofness shown by the United States.  Precisely because of the ambiguities that von Hlatky highlights, this case has at once been for me the most exasperating and most interesting one to research.  Two plausible explanations can account for the reluctance shown by the United States to pressure Japan hard on nonproliferation.  One is that Washington did not need to resort to such pressure, for it judged that the risks as far as Japan was concerned were low.  Another is that U.S. decision-makers reasoned that such pressure would be unsuccessful—even counterproductive—and thus decided against it.  Alas, complicating my analysis is the fact that both possible explanations have support.  Washington knew that nuclear weapons were becoming anathema to an increasingly large number of Japanese citizens, yet Japan chose to invest in centrifuge technology just when the United States was experiencing internal discord while its war effort in Vietnam was failing.  U.S. government officials also found Tokyo’s arguments for not ratifying the Nonproliferation Treaty to be specious at best, but Washington was also aware that any economic threats against Japan might backfire at a time when it relied on Japanese trade.  President Richard Nixon spoke approvingly of the possibility that Japan might acquire its own nuclear weapons, but later justified the U.S. alliance with Japan to Chinese leaders on the basis of its nonproliferation benefits.[44] My bottom line is simple, if admittedly unsatisfying: the richness and complexity of this case make me hesitant to give full support to clean arguments that claim that one factor above all determined Japan’s behavior.

The second issue that she raises relates to how policy problems are framed.  Drawing on Benoit Pelopidas’s work, von Hlatky asks whether allies really face a binary choice—a conceptual “nuclear straitjacket”—whereby they must choose either to rely on their received security guarantees or to acquire nuclear weapons.[45] In my view, one can go one step further: abandonment concerns are not binary either, especially because allied states always have rational reasons to fear abandonment. What varies is the intensity of those concerns, something that cannot be measured dichotomously.  As such, if we do not take a dichotomous view regarding abandonment fears, then being bound to a nuclear straitjacket makes far less sense even at the conceptual level, to say nothing of policy.  However, I do not wish to imply that—beyond a certain threshold—nuclear proliferation must be inevitable.  As before, much ambiguity exists here.  My case studies—including that on Japan—suggest that contingency and leaders’ beliefs matter.  Still, von Hlatky identifies a serious blind spot in our expert understandings of alliance politics.  Even those states that intensely fear abandonment or have misgivings about their alliances do have options other than acquiring nuclear weapons.  Indeed, nuclear proliferation might be far from being the best or most viable option.  Beyond enhancing conventional military power, a bereft ally can conclude a non-aggression pact with its adversary.  Appeasement may indeed be another option, whether to buy time or to resolve grievances, but unlike non-aggression pacts, such efforts at accommodation may require major concessions.[46] Researchers should further explore the non-nuclear choices that states with deteriorating alliances can make. Suffice it to say, the main case studies I examine in Atomic Assurance cover those countries that resorted to these measures as well.  West Germany ultimately accommodated the Soviet bloc by way of Ostpolitik.[47] Japan signed a non-aggression pact with China in 1976 following its displeasure with U.S. unilateralism in East Asia in the years before.[48] South Korea sought non-aggression pacts with North Korea at the same time as it tried to develop its own nuclear arsenal.[49]

A Story About Alliances or U.S. Alliances?

The main thrust of Paul van Hooft’s review is that it remains unclear whether my book tells a story about alliance politics in general or U.S. alliances in particular.  His review appears to tilt towards the latter interpretation of my book and so raises two important questions.  First, do the findings gleaned from my analysis carry over to illuminate Soviet alliances or, for that matter Chinese alliances, in the Cold War and after?  Second, could regional powers like France or Great Britain have more ’skin in the game’ by virtue of geography and thus be more credible security guarantors than a superpower located an ocean away?

Van Hooft is correct to highlight that I devote insufficient discussion to other security guarantors in my book.  I full-heartedly agree that the literature on alliance politics and nuclear proliferation has a U.S. bias.  The scholarship on these topics can benefit from looking more widely at other alliance systems.  Yet my decision to focus on U.S. alliances was deliberate.  I originally had a chapter that explored whether the main argument of the book has validity with respect to Soviet alliances.  Unfortunately, I determined—on the welcomed recommendation made by readers of earlier versions of the book manuscript—that this chapter sat uneasily with the rest of the book (U.S.-centric as it was) and so would fare better as a stand-alone journal article. It ended up as one published in the Journal of Global Security Studies.[50]

I argue therein that we need not invoke idiosyncratic explanations—which typically would emphasize Moscow’s uniquely domineering approach to alliance management—to understand nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation among its formal treaty allies.  The degree to which foreign policy interests overlapped in Moscow and allied capitals, as well as the extent to which the Soviet Union supported its commitments with hard military power, varied in a manner that corresponds roughly with the patterns of nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation that we see in the Communist world. The Soviet Union had forward deployed large numbers of combat credible (and nuclear-armed) forces in East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, eschewing a defence-in-depth posture that would have explicitly consigned those countries to being a mere buffer zone. The Warsaw Pact’s so-called Southern Tier, which covered at least Romania and Bulgaria, received less attention and importance from Moscow.  Relative to its European alliances, Moscow’s relationships with the People’s Republic of China and North Korea were beset by Soviet aloofness and divergent interests, to say nothing of the minimal military footprint that the Soviet Union had in the Far East, especially in the first half of the Cold War.[51] 

I thus do believe that a case can be made that even the Soviet Union’s military alliances exhibited some of the same patterns as those recounted in Atomic Assurance.  Under Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania made questionable movements towards acquiring nuclear technology.[52] Moscow did not have a relaxed attitude about Bucharest’s nuclear ambitions, but it did not show the same level of urgency as the United States had shown at times with its own allies. Soviet efforts to restrain China’s nuclear ambitions were haphazard, indecisive, and ultimately unsuccessful.  The same was true with respect to North Korea’s ambitions.  Indeed, Soviet leaders brushed aside threats by North Korean leaders to acquire nuclear weapons in the late 1980s.  By then, having access to South Korean credit mattered more to them than North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.[53] 

Van Hooft also asks whether regional powers would “fare better should they extend nuclear deterrence.” Would the requirements for providing a credible security guarantee to European partners be less demanding for France and Great Britain than for the United States?  In my view, the answer is: ‘it depends.’ Suppose that the United States and France had the same military wherewithal—that is, ability—to fight an adversary to at least a stalemate.  Maybe they can even win if forced to fight.  Would France be more willing to fight by virtue of being from the same region as a beleaguered ally?  Possibly, but willingness to fight and resolve are both a function of multiple factors.  The United States might dislike the adversary more than France did.  France could be dovish, whereas the United States could be more hawkish and so accord different values to cooperation with the adversary.  In other words, U.S. threat assessments could be closer to the ally’s than French ones.  Indeed, this is what we see in contemporary Europe: Poland and the Baltic countries do value the United States more so than France as a security guarantor, wary as they are of talk of ‘strategic autonomy’ in Paris.[54]

I do find evidence that allies were attentive to what other regional powers were doing over the course of the Cold War.  To begin with, from the West German perspective, the United States was more acceptable as an external guarantor than Great Britain, not because Great Britain was a regional competitor, as van Hooft suggests, but because the United States was far more able to support West German security. After all, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe was pleading with London to maintain the necessary force requirements for the British Army on the Rhine—a deployment which had put significant pressure on British balance of payments and monetary policy.[55] Economically more successful than Great Britain in the first half of the Cold War, France also had a military presence in West Germany. However, the Forces françaises en Allemagne (FFA) were mostly stationed in regions that hugged the Franco-German border—specifically, the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and the Saar.  Just looking at a map reveals that those forces ultimately served as France’s first line of defense, affording that country even more depth.  Indeed, a Warsaw Pact invasion force would have had to have overcome U.S. military positions or wheel around British ones before fighting French soldiers.  Even so, West German leaders petitioned the French government to maintain its forces on West German territory after France withdrew from NATO’s integrated military command in 1966.[56] Sharing a border—let alone being from the same region—was an insufficient form of reassurance. Finally, as von Hlatky highlights in her review, I show that West German and Japanese decision-makers often compared themselves to their French and British counterparts.  Whether during negotiations for a nonproliferation treaty or during discussions of alliance nuclear strategy, allied elites worried of being relegated to second-class status by dint of not having nuclear weapons.  I am admittedly not sure whether they were “echoing the concerns of a broader constituency of states that criticized the fairness of its terms,” to quote von Hlatky’s excellent question, but my reading of the cases is that their concerns were more parochial. Indeed, in multiple interviews I conducted in Seoul and in Tokyo, I was told that if the other U.S. ally got nuclear weapons, then their country would have come under pressure to get their own.  I am not sure whether such region-wide nuclear proliferation would really happen, but these statements point to how nuclear weapons themselves have intrinsic value.  Considerations of status and honor seem much more salient than military need.

An Agenda for Future Research

Put together, in my humble view at least, these excellent thoughtful reviews clear several overlapping paths for future research.  One relates to the beliefs that individual leaders have about nuclear deterrence and alliance politics.  Recent scholarship has uncovered variability in how decision-makers value their international reputation.[57] Perhaps leaders of states dependent on great powers for their security vary in their beliefs about alliance reliability and, by extension, what should be done if they judge their alliances to be fundamentally flawed. After all, because of international anarchy, allied leaders have no rational reason to entrust their security onto those great powers that could just as well abandon them in a serious crisis.  Yet some decision-makers may be more trusting than others.  Another avenue for research speaks to the “nuclear straitjacket”: must allies whose faith in their received commitments is broken desire nuclear weapons?  Most of the case studies discussed in my book are drawn from a time when the nonproliferation regime was weak, if not non-existent.  The current generation of leaders might be much more hesitant about procuring nuclear weapons to solve their international problems and so embrace other tools of statecraft to mitigate the effects of potential alliance abandonment.  Finally, the study of alliance politics should consider other security guarantors, actual or potential.  Amid discussion of ‘European strategic autonomy,’ countries should vary in their beliefs about the attractiveness of, say, French extended nuclear deterrence in relation to the U.S. provision thereof.  If such variation exists, one wonders whether a common logic underpins those beliefs.



[1] Full disclosure: In December 2015, as a workshop participant, I reviewed and commented upon parts of an early version of this book. 

[2] Thomas C. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 195-199; J.D. Singer, “Inter-Nation Influence: A Formal Model.” American Political Science Review 57:2 (1963), 429-430.  David A. Baldwin, “Power Analysis and World Politics,” World Politics 31:2 (1979), 188-190.

[3] Alexander Lanoszka, “Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation among Soviet Allies,” Journal of Global Security Studies 3:2 (April 2018), 217-33.

[4] Glenn H. Snyder, Deterrence and Defense: Toward a Theory of National Security (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), chap. 3.

[5] For a good example of the assumed automaticity prevalent in conventional thinking about U.S. grand strategy, see Kathleen Hicks, “Getting to Less: The Truth about Defense Spending,” Foreign Affairs (March/April 2020), 60.

[6] Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 187-188.

[7] See also: Lawrence Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 3rd ed., 2003 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1981), 276.

[8] U.S. officials repeatedly expressed doubts that the U.S. would follow through on its guarantees.  National Security Advisor for Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, at a private gathering of American and European strategies in Brussels in September 1979 said: “If my analysis is correct, we must face the fact that it is absurd to base the strategy of the West on the credibility of the threat of mutual suicide… and therefore I would say  […] that our European allies should not keep asking us to multiply strategic assurances that we cannot possibly mean or if we do mean, we should not want to execute because if we do execute, we risk the destruction of civilization.” Cited in Earl C. Ravenal, “Counterforce and Alliance: The Ultimate Connection,” International Security 6:4 (1982), 37. Defense Secretary for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert McNamara, wrote that “in long private conversations with successive Presidents Kennedy and Johnson-I recommended, without qualification, that they never initiate, under any circumstances, the use of nuclear weapon.” Cited in David Garnham, “Extending Deterrence with German Nuclear Weapons,” International Security 10:1 (1985), 97. See also Reid Pauly’s analysis of the reticence of U.S. officials to escalate to the use of nuclear weapons during wargames: Reid BC Pauly, “Would US Leaders Push the Button? Wargames and the Sources of Nuclear Restraint,” International Security 43:2 (2018): 151-192.

[9] The most important thing about U.S. ground forces in Europe was “their nationality”. Freedman, The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, 276.

[10] For example, Marc Trachtenberg made clear in his classic Constructed Peace how important the presence of American forces was to reassure Western Europeans – and specifically West Germans and the French - that the U.S. would not abandon them. Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

[11] Julian Barnes and Cooper, “Trump Discussed Pulling U.S.  From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia,” The New York Times, 14 January 2019; Bert Thompson, Ulrich Kühn, and Tristan Volpe, “Tracking the German Nuclear Debate,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 15 August 2018, https://carnegieendowment.org/2018/08/15/tracking-german-nuclear-debate-pub-72884. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump signaled a willingness to discuss proliferation to U.S. allies in Asia.  Charlie Sykes, “Interview with Donald Trump” (620 WTMJ, 28 March 2016), https://soundcloud.com/620-wtmj/charlie-sykes-interviews-donald-trump; Editorial Board, “A Transcript of Donald Trump’s Meeting with The Washington Post Editorial Board,” Washington Post, 21 March 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2016/03/21/a-transcript-of-donald-trumps-meeting-with-the-washington-post-editorial-board/.

[12] Barry R. Posen, Restraint: A New Foundation for US Grand Strategy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2014), 61; John J. Mearsheimer, Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), 232-233; Stephen M. Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Primacy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), xi.

[13] Vesna Danilovic, “The Sources of Threat Credibility in Extended Deterrence,” Journal of Conflict Resolution 45:3 (2001): 341-369.

[14] Bruno Tertrais, “Will Europe Get Its Own Bomb?,” The Washington Quarterly 42:2 (2019): 47-66.

[15] Jacques Chirac, “Speech by Mr. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, during His Visit to The Strategic Air and Maritime Forces at Landivisiau / L’Ile Longue,” (19 January 2006), http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/policy/french-nuclear-policy/PDFs/Chirac,%20Speech%20Delivered%20at%20the%20Strategic%20Air%20and%20Maritime%20Forces%20at%20Landivisiau.pdf; Francois Hollande, “President Hollande, Speech on Nuclear Deterrence, 19 February 2015,” http://www.nuclearfiles.org/menu/key-issues/nuclear-weapons/issues/policies/President-Hollande-Speech-on_a921.pdf.

[16] Bruno Tertrais notes that French officials emphasize that when the French Air Force participates in the air defense of the Baltic States, it does so as the air force of a nuclear power, and that they believe that Russia understands this. Tertrais, “Will Europe Get Its Own Bomb?”: 54.

[17] Robert J. Art, A Grand Strategy for America (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013).

[18]  Francis J. Gavin, “Strategies of Inhibition: US Grand Strategy, the Nuclear Revolution, and Nonproliferation,” International Security 40:1 (2015): 9-46; Gene Gerzhoy, “Alliance Coercion and Nuclear Restraint: How the United States Thwarted West Germany’s Nuclear Ambitions,” International Security 39:4 (2015): 91-129.

[19] Dan Reiter, “Security Commitments and Nuclear Proliferation,” Foreign Policy Analysis 10:1 (2014): 61-80.

[20] For example: Posen, Restraint; Walt, The Hell of Good Intentions; Mearsheimer, Great Delusion., as well as Christopher Layne, The Peace of Illusions: American Grand Strategy from 1940 to the Present (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006); Andrew J. Bacevich, “Ending Endless War: A Pragmatic Military Strategy,” Foreign Affairs 95 (2016), 36; Stephen Wertheim, “How to End Endless War,” The New Republic, 22 March 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153239/end-endless-war-case-against-american-military-supremacy.

[21] Etel Solingen, ed., Sanctions, Statecraft, and Nuclear Proliferation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Solingen, Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007)

[22] Benoit Pelopidas, “The Nuclear Straightjacket: American Extended Deterrence and Nonproliferation,” in Stéfanie von Hlatky and Andreas Wenger, eds., The Future of Extended Deterrence: NATO and Beyond (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2015): 73-104.

[23] For recent studies of US coercive diplomacy to thwart nuclear proliferation by non-treaty allies see Or Rabinowitz and Nicholas L. Miller, “Keeping the Bombs in the Basement: U.S. Nonproliferation Policy toward Israel, South Africa, and Pakistan,” International Security 40:1 (2015): 47-86; Or Rabinowitz, Bargaining on Nuclear Tests: Washington and Its Cold War Deals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). For arguments at the efficacy of the credible threat of US economic sanctions see Nicholas L. Miller, Stopping the Bomb: The Sources and Effectiveness of US Nonproliferation Policy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018); and idem, “The Secret Success of Nonproliferation Sanctions,” International Organization 68:4 (2014): 913-944.

[24] Francis J. Gavin, “Strategies of Inhibition: U.S. Grand Strategy, the Nuclear Revolution, and Nonproliferation,” International Security 40:1 (2015): 9-46.

[25] On the distinction between “carrot-based” and “stick-based” nonproliferation strategies a great power patron might pursue, see Nuno P. Monteiro, and Alexandre Debs, "The Strategic Logic of Nuclear Proliferation," International Security 39:2 (2014): 7-51, 19.

[26] Elsewhere, I refer to these as hybrid nonproliferation strategies.  See Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, Defending Frenemies: Alliance Politics and Nuclear Nonproliferation in US Foreign Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019), 14 and 47-48.

[27] Lanoszka does not title the theory he develops in Atomic Assurances.  Elsewhere, I refer to it as “security commitment theory” and derive hypotheses about the types of nonproliferation strategies that United States would pursue toward treaty allies that also hosted US conventional forces.  See Taliaferro, Defending Frenemies, 58-59.

[28] For classic treatments of the alliance security dilemma see Glenn H. Snyder, “The Security Dilemma in Alliance Politics,” World Politics 36:4 (1984): 461-495; and Glenn H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997).

[29] For an analysis of how the Truman and Eisenhower administrations’ fear of entrapment in East Asia shaped the mutual defense pacts with the ROK, Japan, and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan between 1951 and 1954 see Victor D. Cha, Powerplay: The Origins of the American Alliance System in Asia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016). For the distinction between entrapment and entanglement see Tongfi Kim, “Why Alliances Entangle but Seldom Entrap States,” Security Studies 20:3 (2011): 350-377.

[30] For an analysis of the impact of nuclear weapons deployments on allied territory for the credibility of superpowers’ security guarantees see Matthew Fuhrmann and Todd S. Sechser, “Signaling Alliance Commitments: Hand-Tying and Sunk Costs in Extended Nuclear Deterrence,” American Journal of Political Science 58:4 (2014): 919-935.

[31] Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), 21-26.  Walt defines threat as a composite of states’ aggregate material power, offensive military capabilities, perceived aggressive or benign intentions, and proximity.

[32] Etel Solingen, Nuclear Logics: Contrasting Paths in East Asia and the Middle East (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

[33] Jacques E. C. Hymans, The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions, and Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[34] Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History, 2nd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 58.

[35] Nuno P. Monteiro and Alexandre Debs, "The Strategic Logic of Nuclear Proliferation," International Security 39:2 (2014): 7-51; Alexandre Debs and Nuno P. Monteiro, Nuclear Politics: The Strategic Causes of Proliferation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Eugene B. Kogan, “Coercing Allies: Why Friends Abandon Nuclear Plans” (Ph.D. dissertation, Brandeis University, 2013), chapters 3 and 4; Jonathan D.  Pollack and Mitchell B. Reiss, “South Korea: The Tyranny of Geography and the Vexations of History,” in Kurt M. Campbell, Robert J. Einhorn and Mitchell B. Reiss, eds., The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2004): 254-292; Seung-Young Kim, “Security, Nationalism and the Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons and Missiles: The South Korean Case, 1970–82,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 12:4 (2001): 53-80, esp. p. 65; and T. V. Paul, Power Versus Prudence: Why Nations Forgo Nuclear Weapons (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000), 121.

[36] Marc Trachtenberg, A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945-1963 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 73.

[37] Gene Gerzhoy, "Alliance Coercion and Nuclear Restraint: How the United States Thwarted West Germany's Nuclear Ambitions," International Security 39:4 (2015): 91-129, 123-124.

[38] On this point, Lanoszka cites Jonas Schneider, and Gene Gerzhoy, “Correspondence: The United States and West Germany’s Quest for Nuclear Weapons," International Security 41:1 (2016), 182-185; and Makreeta Lahti, “Security Cooperation as a Way to Stop the Spread of Nuclear Weapons? Nuclear Nonproliferation Policies of the United States Towards the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel, 1945-1968” (Ph.D., Universität Potsdam, Germany, 2008).

[39] I make point about the Ford and Carter administration’s strategic objectives in East Asia in Taliaferro, Defending Frenemies, chapter 5.  For a detailed analysis of the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administration’s effort to cultivate China as an “ally of convenience” against the Soviet Union from 1971 to 1989 see Evan N. Resnick, Allies of Convenience: A Theory of Bargaining in US Foreign Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019), chapter 2.

[40] For an argument about how features of the nuclear nonproliferation regime can help buy time against proliferators, see Lisa L. Koch, “Frustration and Delay: The Secondary Effects of Supply-Side Proliferation Controls,” Security Studies 28:4 (2019): 773-806.

[41] For another, under-appreciated view about complex and nuanced character of various nuclear proliferation efforts, see Itty Abraham, “The Ambivalence of Nuclear Histories,” Osiris 21:1 (2006): 49-65.

[42] For an excellent study of South Korea’s ballistic missile program, see Nicholas Seltzer, “Baekgom: The Development of South Korea’s First Ballistic Missile,” The Nonproliferation Review 26:3-4 (2019): 289-327.

[43] See, e.g., Gene Gerzhoy, “Alliance Coercion and Nuclear Restraint: How the United States Thwarted West Germany's Nuclear Ambitions,” International Security 39:4 (2015): 91-129.

[44] Yukinori Komine, “The “Japan Card” in the United States Rapprochement with China, 1969–1972,” Diplomacy & Statecraft 20:3 (2009): 496, 503.  Francis J. Gavin wonderfully captures the two-faced nature of Nixon’s nuclear thinking.  See idem, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America's Atomic Age (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012): 104-119.

[45] Benoit Pelopidas, “The Nuclear Straightjacket: American Extended Deterrence and Nonproliferation,” in Stéfanie von Hlatky and Andreas Wenger, eds., The Future of Extended Deterrence: NATO and Beyond (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2015): 73-104

[46] Norrin M Ripsman and Jack S. Levy, “Wishful Thinking or Buying Time?  The Logic of British Appeasement in the 1930s,” International Security 33:2 (2008): 148-181.

[47] Some argue that Ostpolitik was ultimately subversive because it placed on the agenda human rights, trade, and cultural exchange.  Moscow was unsure what to make of Ostpolitik.  See Vojtech Mastny, “Superpower Détente: US-Soviet Relations, 1969–1972,” GHI Bulletin Supplement I (2003): 20. Still, West Germany negotiated a set of treaties that catered to Soviet interests during Willy Brandt’s Chancellorship.

[48] Chae-Jin Lee, “The Making of the Sino-Japanese Peace and Friendship Treaty,” Pacific Affairs 52:3 (1979): 433.

[49] Lyong Chuo, The Foreign Policy of Park Chunghee: 1968-1979 (PhD dissertation: The London School of Economics and Political Science, 2012): 129, 177.

[50] See Alexander Lanoszka, “Nuclear Proliferation and Nonproliferation among Soviet Allies,” Journal of Global Security Studies 3:2 (2018): 217-233.

[51] Henrik Hiim argues that China’s own approach to nonproliferation has been highly contingent on various factors, some of which strategic.  See Henrik Stålhane Hiim, China and International Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Strategic Assistance (London: Routledge, 2018).  Note that I, along with Galen Jackson, make a similar case with respect to the United States—namely, that the goal of nonproliferation is on its own insufficient in steering policy.  It must be linked to other issues for it to receive priority.  See Galen Jackson, “The United States, the Israeli Nuclear Program, and Nonproliferation, 1961–69,” Security Studies 28:2 (2019): 360-393.

[52] Eliza Gheorghe, “Building Détente in Europe?  East–West Trade and the Beginnings of Romania’s Nuclear Programme, 1964–70." European Review of History/Revue européenne d'histoire 21:2 (2014): 238.

[53] Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (New York: Basic Books, 2014): 158, 166.

[54] The recent controversy over French President Emmanuel Macron’s remarks about NATO and Article 5 is indicative in this regard.  For an excellent discussion of why France has not found a receptive audience even among its European allies, see Kori Schake, “Why the U.S. Outplays France,” The Atlantic, 8 November 2019, retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/charles-de-gaulle-lives-again/601618/. See also Margarita Šešelgytė, “Armament and Transatlantic Relationships: The Baltic States Perspective,” Ares Group Comment #47, November 2019, retrieved from https://www.iris-france.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Ares-47.pdf.

[55] Hubert Zimmermann, “The Sour Fruits of Victory: Sterling and Security in Anglo-German Relations during the 1950s and 1960s,” Contemporary European History 9:2 (2000): 225-243; David French, Army, Empire, and Cold War: The British Army and Military Policy, 1945-1971 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012): 221; and Lanoszka, Atomic Assurance, 56. Of course, the United States would soon face similar balance-of-payment pressures. Eventually, the three allies resolved their disagreements in the Trilateral Negotiations in the late 1960s.

[56] Hélène Perrein-Engels, La présence militaire française en Allemagne de 1945 à 1993 (PhD dissertation: University of Metz, 1994): 134-135. Vaguely, President Charles de Gaulle informed the French military in 1964 that France would “feel threatened as soon as the territories of Federal Germany and Benelux are violated.” Quoted in Bruno Tertrais, “Will Europe Get Its Own Bomb?” The Washington Quarterly 42:2 (2019): 52.

[57] Keren Yarhi-Milo, Who Fights for Reputation: The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018).  Jacques Hymans has already shown that some leaders might be pre-disposed than others to seeing nuclear weapons as useful for shoring up their security needs.  See Hymans, The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation: Identity, Emotions and Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).