Edited by Frank Whelon Wayman, Paul R. Williamson, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Solomon Polachek
Chapter 8: Forecasting nuclear weapons proliferation: a hazard model
From the original test of the first atomic device in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945 to the present day, the creation, testing, and deployment of these weapons has generated an extraordinary amount of discussion, debate, speculation, and research. On the positive side, we are told that by dropping the very primitive first two bombs on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki in August 1945 the US was able to bring Japan to surrender and thus avoid the costly island-hopping campaign that could have taken more than a year and perhaps at the cost of thousands of American and Japanese fatalities. In addition, these bombings served to send a “message to Moscow” and thus make the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) a more tractable diplomatic partner. Then it followed that the US monopoly and later weapon superiority would function as a deterrent to Soviet strategies of expansion. In due course, however, the Soviets acquired their own nuclear capabilities such that the next half-century became a period of mutual deterrence, keeping the bipolar rivalry, one of proxy wars and recurrent probes, and thus producing a Cold War standoff while avoiding World War III. And out of that stand-off came the eventual collapse of the Soviet empire, the end of the Cold War, and the emergence of what became a US global hegemony in the 1990s.
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