The move by the US to utilize military force to fight against the acquisition of nuclear weapons has been greatly questioned both at the domestic level and abroad. While some think it is just, others oppose it arguing that employing military force is totally superfluous.
Those that oppose the military intervention believe that this move enlarges the gap between nuclear nations and non nuclear nations. A Question asked is, is it justifiable for the United States to integrate military force in the fight against the acquisition of nuclear weapons by nations that pose threats?
The main function of Nuclear Weapons Treaty was to prevent nuclear attacks during the Cold war. Nuclear Non-proliferation Regime Treaty (NTP) was agreed on in 1968 with the aim of stopping the proliferation of non-nuclear weapons. However, the al Qaeda attack on US on September 11, 2001 was a wakeup call to reexamine the utility of the 1968 treaty.
It is since then that the US government embarked on counter-proliferation actions with the aim of deterring the hostile nations from all means of acquiring the nuclear weapons. The counter proliferation mechanisms were non-war before the terrorism attack. With the attack, it brought the proclamation of use of military force to prevent rogue states from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The rogue states are known to be irrational and are capable of launching series of attacks on the US government or facilitate the acquisition of these weapons to other groups considered as a threat by US such as terrorists groups (Lamond and Ingram 1). Actually, the US administration justified its invasion on Iraq on the ground of Saddam Hussein’s allegations that he had nuclear weapons; this was counted as a huge threat by the US government and other nations at large.
Following the September act of terrorism in US, the invasion was justified. However, substitution for nuclear deterrence by preventive war was and still is questionable. Analysts still believe that credible nuclear deterrence is the best option to work against the rogue states.
Moreover, preventive war has been described as abhorrence by many US allies, and it would be going against US statecraft tradition. Conversely, the claims were baseless, and lacked supportive evidence that Iraq making of nuclear weapons posed any threat to the world (Record 2).
Preventive war is not the only alternative left for deterrence; other alternatives include dissuasion and coercive diplomacy. Other valid mechanisms include persuasion of other countries such as China, Russia and others to cease supply of vital technology and knowledge to rogue states.
This strategy is said to have achieved some success through slow acquisition of nuclear-power weapons (Levi and Ferguson 1). For example, Iran’s acquisition of capabilities of platinum and uranium enrichment is a threat to most nations. Therefore, all loop holes on cutting the supply of nuclear material to the rogue states should be filled as further gapping will ensure ease acquisition of such materials to the rogue states.
The only disadvantage of this approach is that there lies a possibility that these countries can obtain an indigenous source of the materials without any external assistance. This shows that the countries will somehow, inevitably be able to make nuclear weapons, thus a nonproliferation mechanism would not be a total success (Perkovich 2). Arguably, non-proliferation mechanism would fail only if the US government becomes reluctant or discontinues its previous efforts.
It is well known that US officials have the capability to make bold polices that would persuade the nuclear weapon supporting countries to reverse their course (Cordesman 425). The US and other nations are concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons through the international atomic agency (IAE) and have taken a measure to ensure that nuclear material and other related material are used for peaceful mission.
There is a need for the US government to stop negatively portraying nations, which are trying to acquire nuclear knowledge, for instance, Iran. In regard to Iran, America has been using phrases such as ‘axis of evil’ and ‘regime change’; such terms can easily exasperate the Iranian government (Litwak 7).
Therefore, the long-term goal of getting a free nuclear weapon world should be the core interest, and all nations should focus to meet conditions necessary to achieve this goal. This implies that the US government and other nuclear possessors should halt highlighting the security and political value for their nuclear arsenals: “If nuclear weapons are bad for a major nation and civilization, then it is equally bad for other major nations and civilization” (Perkovich 11).
Preventive war has been described as the alternative to nuclear deterrence. Preventive war and deterrence are policy options made to protect the US against attack by the nuclear weapon making nations.
Preventive war should only be considered if deterring the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) without war is in vain. Incorporation of military force in fighting against nuclear weapon acquisition by the US administration is alleged to be a mere result of fears that they are at risk of a horrendous attack. There is a great difference between preemptive and preventive attack.
Preemptive attack occurs when an enemy attack is evidenced. Preemptive attack is only justifiable if the attack is instant, overwhelming and has no other choice or time to deliberate. Preemption right is justifiable as it is comparable to a self-defense. For example, an army from an enemy government attacking another nation’s border would cause preemption attack (Brown 2).
Although the US government has been under pressure from various authorities to fight nuclear weapons supporting nations, use of preemption is inappropriate. The US authorities argue that preventive war is slow and may strengthen rogue states. It is being equated to gambling with the nation’s security today and in the future.
This reasoning justified the invasion on Iraq. However, there was no sufficient evidence to support the allegation that Iraq was a threat to the US government (Perkovich 13). Therefore, it is not just for US government to use military force to fight against the nuclear weapons supporting states (Cordesman 425).
It is not correct for the US to engage in military actions to stop other nations from acquiring knowledge on nuclear weapons and consequently developing nuclear weapons. There is a need to come up with a good strategy to fight the spread of nuclear weapons and knowledge and engaging in military preemptive strikes is not an option. The issue of developing nuclear weapons is a sensitive one and thus the need to include all the nations of the world to find a better way out.
Brown Chris. Self defense in an imperfect world. Ethics and international affairs. New York, NY: Prentice Hall, 2003. Print.
Cordesman Anthony. The Iraq: War strategy tactics and military lessons Washington: Center for strategic and international studies. Washington DC, WA: Cengage, 2003. Print.
Lamond Claudine and Ingram Paul. Politics around US tactical nuclear weapons in European host states. Atlantic Community, 2009. Web. October 29, 2011.
Levi Michael and Ferguson Charles. US-India nuclear co-operation: Strategy for moving forward. New York, NY: Council on Foreign Relations, 2006. Print.
Litwak Robert. Nonproliferation and dilemmas of Regime change, survival. Wilson Center, n.d. Web. October 29, 2011.
Perkovich George. Dealing with Iran’s nuclear challenge. Carnegie endowment for international peace. Iran Watch, 2003. Web. October 29, 2011.
Record Jeffrey. Nuclear deterrence, preventive war and counter proliferation: policy affairs No.519. CATO, 2004. Web. October 29, 2011.
Wazler Michael. Just and unjust wars: amoral argument with historical illustrations. Library of congress cataloging publication Data. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2006. Print.