Planning the Unthinkable: How New Powers Will Use Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons

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The proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons is now the single most serious security concern for governments around the world. Peter R. Lavoy, Scott D. Sagan, and James J. Wirtz compare how military threats, strategic cultures, and organizations shape the way leaders intend to employ these armaments. They reveal the many frightening ways that emerging military powers and terrorist groups are planning the unthinkable by preparing to use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons in future conflicts.

Distinguished specialists consider several states and organizations that have this weaponry: Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, as well as the Aum Shinrikyo cult. The contributors expose plans for using unconventional weapons, highlighting the revolutionary effects these arsenals might have on international politics and regional disputes.

Joseph S. Bermudez, Jane's Intelligence Review
Zafar Iqbal Cheema, Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
Avner Cohen, National Security Archive, George Washington University
Lewis A. Dunn, Science Applications International Corporation
Gregory F. Giles, Science Applications International Corporation
Peter R. Lavoy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and the Naval Postgraduate School
Timothy V. McCarthy, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
Scott D. Sagan, Center for International Security and Cooperation,Stanford University
Waheguru Pal SinghSidhu, Centre for International Studies, Oxford
Jessica Stern, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
Jonathan B. Tucker, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
James J. Wirtz, Naval Postgraduate School

About the Authors:
Peter R. Lavoy is Director, Counterproliferation Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School.
Scott D. Sagan is Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University.
James J. Wirtz is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs, Naval Postgraduate School.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Planning the Unthinkable offers numerous case studies, which include fascinating (if chilling) reading on a variety of countries. . . as well as terrorist groups. . . The challenge for the United States, these essays conclude grimly, is figuring out how to respond to the use of such weapons when—not if—they are used."—Foreign Affairs. November/December 2000

"Another outstanding volume in the 'Cornell Security Affairs' series, this edited work provides the first systematic examination of the integration of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons into the military doctrines and systems of command for emerging powers. . . These studies provide a necessary correction to the oversimplifications of policymakers and academics. Highly recommended."—Choice, April 2001, Vol. 38, No. 8

"This important volume breaks new ground by moving past a focus on the reasons why international actors acquire unconventional weapons. . . For the statesperson, the volume acts as an admonition to refrain from treating all proliferators alike; for the scholar, it serves as an exceptional example of the analytical robustness that results from a willingness to use multiple theoretical approaches to explain complex phenomena."—Dennis Foster, Pennsylvania State University. The Journal of Conflict Studies, Spring 2001

"This is a very useful and long overdue book. Unlike most other treatises,. . . this volume describes how countries like Iraq, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, as well as terrorist groups (potentially) treat their preferred weapons of mass destruction from the perspective of declaratory, procurement, deployment, and employment doctrine. . . The book as a whole remains a valuable introduction to how these states view their strategic capabilities and seek to control them in order to achieve certain desired political ends."—Ashley J. Tellis, RAND. Political Science Quarterly, Summer 2001

"This book will interest both specialists in international security and general readers. . . Planning the Unthinkable is a timely and well-written treatment of issues related to the most frightening weapons today. It provides a wide range of ideas about how to think more rigorously about the unthinkable."—Patrick James, Iowa State University. International Politics, Vol. 38, September 2001

"This book looks at how 'new proliferators' will use the NBC weapons that they have developed or are trying to acquire, and why. . . . The authors examine the evidence of this thinking in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Israel, India, Pakistan, and the Aum Shinrikyo cult, and the resulting war plans and command and control systems."—Future Survey, Vol. 23, No. 5, May 2001

"This landmark book asks a question that has preoccupied policymakers and international relations theorists alike: how will emerging proliferators use and control their weapons of mass destruction? The book is theoretically rich and provides the most empirically comprehensive answer yet available in the unclassified literature."—Peter Feaver, Duke University

"Planning the Unthinkable provides a thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of historical motives for acquiring - and possibly using - nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The book is forward-looking as well, providing insight into what is surely the greatest challenge confronting security policymakers today: understanding the risks of current and future proliferation. It should be read by every serious student of international security."—William J. Perry, U.S. Secretary of Defense, 1994-1997

"Planning the Unthinkable warns that today's most pressing security challenge is posed not only by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction but also by their use for political, military, and terrorist ends. By marshalling an impressive array of evidence and theoretical insights, the authors explain how countries of concern —including Iraq, Iran and North Korea —are likely to employ nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The themes articulated in this breakthrough book will strongly influence policymakers and scholars for many years to come."—Dr. Edward L. Warner III, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction

"In the tradition of Thinking about the Unthinkable—Herman Kahn's seminal Cold War consideration of U.S.-Soviet nuclear relations—this insightful book will help practitioners and scholars confront the most important twenty-first century challenge to U.S. security and international order. By examining the ideosyncratic motivations of state and non-state actors to acquire and use nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, the authors provide a significantly improved understanding of the complexities of the proliferation problem."—Dr. James N. Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Requirements, Plans and Counterproliferation

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801487040
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Origins of Military Doctrine and Command and Control Systems 16
2 Saddam's Toxic Arsenal: Chemical and Biological Weapons in the Gulf Wars 47
3 The Islamic Republic of Iran and Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons 79
4 Nuclear Arms in Crisis under Secrecy: Israel and the Lessons of the 1967 and 1973 Wars 104
5 India's Nuclear Use Doctrine 125
6 Pakistan's Nuclear Use Doctrine and Command and Control 158
7 The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Unconventional Weapons 182
8 Terrorist Motivations and Unconventional Weapons 202
9 Conclusions: Planning the Unthinkable 230
Contributors 259
Index 261
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