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Resolved: The United States should adopt a declaratory nuclear policy of no first use (bibliography)

Resolved: The United States should adopt a declaratory nuclear policy of no first use (bibliography)

Amisha’s reading list — key articles

This reading list has key articles that can be used to understand the core arguments in the debate.

“No First Use” and Nuclear Weapons This article is a good review of US First Use declaratory policy and the pros and cons

Pro — The Overwhelming Case for No First Use.  This is a great 2020 article that makes a strong case for No First Use

Pro — No First Use and Credible Deterrence. This is a great scholarly but brief article that makes the core case for NFU. Despite progress in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the largest arsenals, a number of states are now looking to increase their reliance on nuclear weapons not only for deterrence, but also for coercion or war fighting.  There is scant evidence that nuclear weapons are effective or well suited for these roles, and the risks of relying on nuclear weapons for more than deterrence of nuclear attack are under appreciated.  We review the evolution of US nuclear strategy and assesses the prospects for establishing a policy of no first use.  A no first use policy would in no way reduce deterrence of nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.  Nuclear weapons are not an effective deterrent against non-nuclear attack because there are few if any scenarios in which a US threat to use nuclear weapons first in response to non-nuclear aggression against the United States or its allies would be credible.  The benefits of adopting a policy of no first use include reducing the risks of accidental nuclear escalation or nuclear use from miscalculation, as well as supporting nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

Con — The Costs of an American ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Doctrine. This article outlines 5 basic arguments against NFU

Con — Reject “No First Use” Nuclear Policy This article says NFU undermines deterrence vis-a-vis Russia and China.

Con — Debating Nuclear No First Use, Again. This scholarly article reviews the arguments in favor of NFU, argues against them, and explains why the Obama administration decided not to adopt NFU.

US Nuclear Weapons Policy Background

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues.

Background

Wall Street Journal Video Explainer 

Considering No First Use.  This short Congressional Research Service Report reviews the main pro and con arguments about nuclear no first use.

Senate committee questions Trump’s nuclear authority This is a brief description of the hearing that you can find here.

The utility of nuclear weapons and the strategy of No First Use  This article explains the operational changes that would need to be made in US nuclear weapons in order for a NFU policy to be credible. It is an older article without a date, but it is useful to show what operational changes are needed.

Why the Democratic Debate Revived an Old Question About Nuclear Weapons (2019).This is a brief explanation of some of they key arguments in the debate.

General/Both sides

Policy Roundtable: Nuclear First-Use and Presidential Authority

1. “Introduction: Debating Fundamental Questions in American Nuclear Strategy,” by Galen Jackson
2. “It’s Time for a U.S. No-First-Use Nuclear Policy,” by Nina Tannenwald
3. “Nuclear First Use Is Dangerous and Unnecessary,” by Jon B. Wolfsthal
4. “A Considered ‘No’ on ‘No First Use,'” by John R. Harvey
5. “Should Presidential Command Over Nuclear Launch Have Limitations? In a Word, No,” by Rachel Elizabeth Whitlark
6. “Somewhere Between ‘Never’ and ‘Always,’” by Brendan Rittenhouse Green

Refusing to Nuke First.  This article examines the pros and cons of NFU. It seems to conclude that it may be beneficial but that it probably won’t produce much benefit.

Pro

Virtual roundtable on the Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons. This hast a collection of articles from scholars and policy analysts who support NFU.

No First Use explained.  This offers a very short overview of NFU and supports its adoption.

In the Age of Trump, the nuclear Threat is Growing This article simply says that the risk of nuclear use is increasing and that we need to adopt policies to reduce risk of use.

The US must end first us policy.

Thermonuclear monarchy and a sleeping citizenry This article is a bit difficult to read because it is a speech that is not tightly focused, but it makes two main arguments — that any nuclear use would be catastrophic and that allowing one person to make decisions on use violates the Constitution and international law.

No First Use and Credible Deterrence. This is a great scholarly but brief article that makes the core case for NFU. Despite progress in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the largest arsenals, a number of states are now looking to increase their reliance on nuclear weapons not only for deterrence, but also for coercion or war fighting.  There is scant evidence that nuclear weapons are effective or well suited for these roles, and the risks of relying on nuclear weapons for more than deterrence of nuclear attack are under appreciated.  We review the evolution of US nuclear strategy and assesses the prospects for establishing a policy of no first use.  A no first use policy would in no way reduce deterrence of nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.  Nuclear weapons are not an effective deterrent against non-nuclear attack because there are few if any scenarios in which a US threat to use nuclear weapons first in response to non-nuclear aggression against the United States or its allies would be credible.  The benefits of adopting a policy of no first use include reducing the risks of accidental nuclear escalation or nuclear use from miscalculation, as well as supporting nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

Would China use nuclear weaopns first in war with the United States? Adding this new purpose could also be the first step on a slippery slope to an incremental broadening the role of nuclear weapons in Chinese national security policy. Americans would be a lot safer if we could avoid that. The United States government should applaud China’s no first use policy instead of repeatedly calling it into question. And it would be wise to adopt the same policy for the United States. If both countries declared they would never use nuclear weapons first it may not guarantee they can avoid a nuclear exchange during a military crisis, but it would make one far less likely.

Who Can We Trust With the Nuclear Button? No One  The Cold War is over and all presidents make mistakes. Yet they still have sole control over whether to start a nuclear war.

Taking First-Use of Nukes Off the Table: Good for the United States and the World. War on the Rocks. This article makes a concise case for NFU and has strong answers to common objections.

No First Use in the United States. This is a simple FAQ from the Global Nuclear Zero campaign that outlines the case for NFU.

No First Use: Myths vs. Reality. This FAQ answers common objections to NFU.

The flimsy case against No First Use This article answers the conventional weapons deterrence and allied security arguments.

It’s time to end the nuclear age This is a very brief article that says the US should adopt

No First Use is Right for America  This article makes a general case in favor of NFU.

The Case for No First Use Policy  This article makes a quick, general case for NFU.

End the First Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons This is a strong newspaper article written in favor of NFU.

America Would Never Be the First to Use Nukes. So Why Say We Might? The article contends that we should not have a first use policy because we would never use them first anyhow.

A bill to restrict FU This is a political promotion for a bill, but it has some key quotes that you might use for introductory quotes for lay judges.

Life beyond Arms Control: Moving toward a Global Regime of Nuclear Restraint & Responsibility This scholarly journal article that the risks of accidental and miscalculated war are increasing and that we need to take actions such as adopting NFU policies will reduce the risks

The Commitment Trap Why the United States Should Not Use Nuclear Threats to Deter Biological and Chemical Weapons Attacks.” International Security 24 (4): 85–115.

Why Obama Should Declare a No-First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, August 18. This makes a general case in favor of NFU.

Con

Reject “No First Use” Nuclear Policy This article says NFU undermines deterrence vis-a-vis Russia and China.

Debating Nuclear No First Use, Again. This scholarly article reviews the arguments in favor of NFU, argues against them, and explains why the Obama administration decided not to adopt NFU.

Where would Europe stand on a NFU Policy? This article says NATO opposes NFU, which will help with your NATO good argument.

China’s No First Use Nuclear Fiction. This article contends that China’s NFU policy is a lie and that China would use nuclear weapons first.

I don’t believe China is serious about No First Use A second article that says China’s NFU pledge is not credible.

How to Make the U.S. Military Weak Again This article claims that NFU will weaken US deterrence against conventional threats.

No First Use: A Solution in Search of a Problem “If there was a good chance that President Trump was going to order a nuclear strike on some country for no good reason, this policy change would make sense. But this is the president who’s eager to play footsie with Kim Jong-un, who nods along to Vladimir Putin’s nonsensical claims at joint press conferences, who’s publicly expressing confidence in Xi Jinping during the clashes in Hong Kong, and who made a big show of calling off a military strike against Iran at the last minute. Despite all the bellicose rhetoric, Trump clearly wants to avoid a military conflict.”

‘No First Use’ Nuclear Policy Proposal Assailed by U.S. Cabinet Officials, AlliesThis article says NFU alienates our allies and threatens deterrence

Elizabeth Warren Wants A Nuclear No First Use Policy, But It Won’t Be Easy to Implement

No First Use: A Categorical Mistake

A No-First-Use Policy Would Make the United States Less Secure

US Air Force Secretary Skeptical of No-First-Use Nuclear Policy

‘No First Use’ Nuclear Policy Proposal Assailed by U.S. Cabinet Officials, Allies

U.S. allies unite to block Obama’s nuclear ‘legacy’

Nuclear Weapons Aren’t Just For the Worst Case Scenario

Declaring a no-first-use nuclear policy would be exceedingly risky

Payne, K. 2016. “‘No First Use’ Nuclear Policy Would Be a Mistake.” National Review, July 6. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/437510/it-would-reduce-potential-cost-usingconventional-chemical-and-biological-attacks

No-First-Use Policy and a Credible Nuclear Umbrella: Paradox or Possibility?The article examines the dilemma between the no-first-use policy and providing a credible extended deterrence to US non-nuclear allies. It traces the previous administration’s effort towards a nuclear free world and briefly discusses two East Asian allies’ reactions to such a policy. The article points out the difficulties of achieving two conflicting goals and suggests two policies that would need to be in place before the next administration proposes the no-first-use policy: communicating comprehensive conventional crisis response scenarios to allies and continuing engagement with North Korea. While these two recommendations might be difficult to attain at this point in time, without these, any no-first-use policy proposed by the new administration would fall into the same traps as previous attempts to implement no-first-use, and ultimately, be short-lived.

Related

Trump nuclear posture review 

NATO

Why NATO matters 

It will take more than a Trump victory to solve NATO’s strategic malaise