In his recent article “The Inscrutable Intentions of Great Powers,” Sebastian Rosato argues that it is far more difficult for states to signal their intentions than existing scholarship recognizes. He claims that the various signaling mechanisms proposed in the IR literature — both domestic-level characteristics and international-level behaviors — “at best…allow for marginal reductions in uncertainty” (51). Thus, Rosato supports the ‘offensive realist’ worldview that “great powers focus on the balance of power” and that “self-help is persistent, balancing is endless, the security dilemma is intractable…competition is the norm and cooperation is both rare and fleeting” (88).
Preventing sovereign states from acquiring and deploying a military technology that all but guarantees their security is beyond difficult. Early in the nuclear age, many United States policymakers and analysts thought that nuclear nonproliferation efforts were, at worst, impossible, and, at best, too costly. Despite this pessimism, the U.S. has made nuclear non-proliferation a priority of American grand strategy since 1945, and has been willing to pay a high price, ranging from breaking its tradition of no permanent peacetime alliances to pressuring Cold-War allies such as West Germany and South Korea while cooperating with a bitter geopolitical and ideological rival, the Soviet Union, to stem the spread of nuclear weapons. No one expected these nuclear nonproliferation policies to be easy or completely successful. If you had told even the most optimistic American decision-maker in 1965 that half a century later (2015) no nuclear weapons would have been detonated against another state, either in anger or by accident, and that the number of states possessing nuclear weapons remained in the single digits, they would have been overjoyed (and likely would have thought that you were crazy).
In April 2011, Pakistan tested a new missile, the Hatf-9 Nasr, designed to deliver nuclear warheads to targets within a 60-kilometer range. While scholars had inferred that Pakistan’s nuclear posture might require it to employ nuclear weapons against tactical targets on the battlefield, this was the first platform designed explicitly for that goal. This missile milestone occurred simultaneously with an impressive expansion in Pakistan’s production of fissile material, permitting it greater latitude to consider apportioning its growing force between a mix of battlefield and strategic targets.
Llewelyn Hughes and Austin Long provide a thoughtful analysis of contemporary energy security. The strengths of the article make it a valuable resource for anyone interested in energy security, policymakers, and scholars. It asks some vital questions for modern international security, including how serious the risks are to any given state’s oil supply, and who has the capacity to make those threats. The authors argue convincingly that it is the United States that has the greatest capacity to wield an oil weapon.
The Treaty on the European Union (EU) stipulates that one of the key objectives of the Union is to provide citizens with a high level of safety within an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). Given that the fight against terrorism is a prominent aspect of this general objective, it is remarkable that, in spite of its political relevance and decade-long history, it has only relatively recently received due attention in the academic community. At the time of writing, only a handful of post-9/11 edited volumes and special issues have focused on specific aspects of the EU counterterrorism efforts and initial monographs on the subject have only been relatively recently published by the three editors behind this special issue: Javier Argomaniz has produced a theoretically informed assessment of the coherence of the EU response, Oldrich Burres has examined the extent to which the EU can offer an added value in the fight against terrorism in Europe and Christian Kaunert  has studied how counter- terrorism has been a driver in the process of construction of the EU’s AFSJ.
Since 2011, Britain’s strategy in the Middle East, in particular its response to the movements of the so-called ‘Arab spring,’ has been excoriated by voices from across the political and ideological spectrum in Britain, as well as from the region itself. Indeed, amid a push for renewed intervention in Iraq last August, Prime Minister David Cameron received a personal letter from church leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury expressing their concern about Downing Street’s lack of “coherent response” to the myriad crises in Syria and Iraq. As it noted, his government’s policy appeared determined chiefly by “the loudest media voice at any particular time.” On subject of London’s current approach to the region, the leading commentator and Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, Chris Doyle, likewise recently told audiences that “one has to question whether the UK supports democracy in the region at all… Let us not pretend for one moment that British Middle-East policy has ever been consistent, or indeed ethical.” It is in the context of this much-disparaged strategic opacity that Philip Leech and Jamie Gaskarth seek to scrutinise Britain’s response to events since 2010 in “British Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring.”
How long will the United States remain the world’s sole superpower, uniquely capable of commanding the commons and projecting sustained military power to overseas regions? Why has the United States been so prone to use military force in the years since the Soviet Union collapsed? And how might answers to these questions hinge on strategic choices made in Washington? These are the questions Nuno Monteiro set out to answer in his rigorously argued Theory of Unipolar Politics. They have been at the center of intense debates for a quarter century—and not just in the ivory tower but also among pundits, politicians, intelligence analysts, policymakers and even leaders of major powers. Monteiro’s arguments have attracted a lot of attention, and deservedly so. Not only does he develop them with great care and express them in clear, forceful prose, he does not shrink from tackling tough problems. In contrast to Kenneth Waltz’s seminal Theory of International Politics, for example, Monteiro’s book deals head on with the interaction between strategic choice and systemic outcomes and the influence of nuclear deterrence on classical balance-of-power thinking.
In this smart, provocative piece, Austin Long and Brendan Rittenhouse Green issue a ringing challenge to the conventional wisdom about the viability of secure, second-strike nuclear forces. As they note at the outset, “the ability of a nuclear force to absorb a preemptive attack and nonetheless retaliate with enough weapons to cause unacceptable damage” is “one of the central concepts in nuclear analysis” (38). The combination of an exponential increase in firepower (such that all that came before was deemed ‘conventional’) and secure, or survivable, long-range airpower (land- and sea-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, specifically mobile ICBMs and SLBMs) has long been thought to render nuclear weapons revolutionary. Indeed, scholars and analysts who focus on nuclear politics and strategy and the historical development of military power and strategy, particularly on military revolutions, have embraced the notion of a nuclear revolution. However, Long and Green argue, second-strike mobile land- or sea-based ballistic missile nuclear forces are not as invulnerable to preemptive attack as some have assumed. “The United States,” they write, “has invested massive resources into intelligence capabilities for a first strike, including successful innovation in tracking submarines and mobile missiles.” (41). The heart of their piece is devoted to a systematically developed, carefully researched, well-documented account of the development of the Cold-War intelligence programs that enabled the United States to find and track relocatable Soviet nuclear assets (aka targets)—mobile ICBMs and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs)—and the continuing post-Cold War development of intelligence capabilities in the hunt for mobile missiles. Long and Green’s bottom line, or “principal claim,” is that “American intelligence for counterforce operations has been far better than most knowledgeable experts have believed” (42). In other words, intelligence, or the lack of intelligence, is not an obstacle to the employment of preemptive, first-strike, counterforce capabilities.
Given recent trends in American strategy, militarily relevant science and technology, and the global balance of power, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is in the process of gaining a new lease on life, regardless of whether Canadian and American politicians wish it to be so. The three analyses under review offer many specific insights and provide a very useful review of NORAD’s institutional history and strategic debates, but they fail to situate the discussion in the broader structural context of world politics, worsening great power military rivalries, and the rapidly developing compounded crisis of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).
Stuart Farson and Nancy Teeple identify an interesting puzzle in the history of Canadian public policy. Why, in spite of several periods of open reflection about the matter, does the federal government eschew the setting up of a foreign intelligence service? The idea of foreign intelligence gathering came in and out of Canadian dialogue at each of the following times: while still in the era of the British Empire, around 1905; in the immediate aftermath of World War II during 1945; as a by-product of the McDonald Commission in 1981; in relation to the Special Committee in 1989; and as part of the Tory election manifesto of 2006 (48, 49, 52, 54).