Rhetoric in Ukraine has reinforced the fallacy of limited nuclear exchange

Since the end of the Cold War, Russia, the United States, France, and China have continued to possess and develop nuclear weapons below the strategic level of land-based and submarine-launched intercontinental-range ballistic missiles. The long-touted rationale for this was simple: non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear weapons are necessary to give the decision-maker more options and provide a credible proportionate deterrence response to the use of similar weapons by an adversary.

The rationale continues by implying that such nuclear weapons use would occupy a third and separate strategic conflict space between conventional war and all-out strategic nuclear exchange. It is necessary, it has been argued, to occupy that space to deter at all levels.

The profound implication of this line of reasoning is that this “limited nuclear exchange” space is both distinct and separate from conventional war below and nuclear Armageddon above, and that transitions between the spaces can be controlled. This is at best unproven conjecture.

For many years, opponents to the continued existence of such tactical weapons in nuclear arsenals—including these authors—have argued to the contrary. Rather than being controlled, these transitions are simultaneously enabled, increased in probability, and accelerated by the very existence of such weapons.

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself. Veteran of a thousand psychic wars. I have seen the fnords. Deplatformed on Tumblr and Twitter.

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