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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the wake of the development of nuclear weapons, the survival of civilization, and perhaps humanity, hinges on answering the “nuclear political question”: Which political arrangements are needed to provide security from large-scale nuclear violence? Over the course of the nuclear era, a great debate on this question has occurred in three quite different rounds. In the first round, “nuclear one world” ideas about the obsolescence of the state-system and necessity of a world state predominated, but reached both conceptual and practical impasses. In the second round, across much of the Cold War, a trinity of deterrence-centered approaches, simple deterrence, war strategism, and arms control, prevailed. In the currently unfolding third round, proliferation and leakage have weakened confidence in nuclear deterrence, while both war strategism and arms control have become more radical, offering opposite “bombs away” answers of coercive counter-proliferation and preventive war, and deep arms control and nuclear abolition.

Keywords: nuclear one worldism, deterrence, strategism, arms control, terrorism, statism, abolition

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