Of owl or ostrich? The U.S. Policy of calculated ambiguity to deter the use of chemical and biological weapons
Lakamp, Mark A.
Yost, David S.
Wirtz, James J.
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The United States has adopted a policy of calculated ambiguity regarding the role of nuclear weapons in response to a potential chemical or biological weapons (CBW) attack. Many factors affect decisions about the role nuclear weapons play in U.S. counterproliferation strategy. This thesis describes the policy of calculated ambiguity and offers some observations about its prospects and pitfalls. The thesis presents evidence that suggests nuclear weapons could play a positive role in the U.S. counterproliferation strategy, at least in some circumstances. It also explains how such a role could conflict with the U.S. nonproliferation strategy. Such a role would also violate the nuclear taboo and be seen by a majority of countries as illegal and immoral. The United States has chosen a policy of calculated ambiguity in an attempt to retain the deterrent value of nuclear weapons without paying the political, legal, and moral costs of explicit reliance on nuclear weapons to deter the use of CBW. This may have short-term benefits, but ultimately may damage the national interest.
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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