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Prolif solves arms race and prevents miscalculated war

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Prolif solves arms race and prevents miscalculated war

Waltz 2003 (Kenneth Waltz, professor Professor of Poly Sci at Berkley, 2003, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed”)//SQR

Fifth, certainty about the relative strength of adversaries also makes war less likely. From the late nineteenth century onward, the speed of technological innovation increased the difficulty of estimating relative strengths and predicting the course of campaigns. Since World War II, technological advance has been even faster, but short of a ballistic missile defense breakthrough, this has not mattered. It did not disturb the American-Soviet military equilibrium, because one side's missiles were not made obsolete by improvements in the other side's missiles. In 1906, the British Dreadnought, with the greater range and fire power of its guns, made older battleships obsolete. This does not happen to missiles. As Bernard Brodie put it, "Weapons that do not have to fight their like do not become useless because of the advent of newer and superior types." 5 They may have to survive their like, but that is a much simpler problem to solve. Many wars might have been avoided had their outcomes been foreseen. "To be sure," Georg Simmel wrote, "the most effective presupposition for preventing struggle, the exact knowledge of the comparative strength of the two parties, is very often only to be obtained by the actual fighting out of the conflict." 6 Miscalculation causes wars. One side expects victory at an affordable price, while the other side hopes to avoid defeat. Here the differences between conventional and nuclear worlds are fundamental. In the former, states are too often tempted to act on advantages that are wishfully discerned and narrowly calculated. In 1914, neither Germany nor France tried very hard to avoid a general war. Both hoped for victory even though they believed the opposing coalitions to be quite evenly matched. In 1941, Japan, in attacking the United States, could hope for victory only if a series of events that were possible but unlikely took place. Japan hoped to grab resources sufficient for continuing its war against China and then to dig in to defend a limited perimeter. Meanwhile, the United States and Britain would have to deal with Germany, supposedly having defeated the Soviet Union and therefore reigning supreme in Europe. Japan could then hope to fight a defensive war until America, her purpose weakened, became willing to make a compromise peace in Asia. 7 Countries more readily run the risks of war when defeat, if it comes, is distant and is expected to bring only limited damage. Given such expectations, leaders do not have to be crazy to sound the trumpet and urge their people to be bold and courageous in the pursuit of victory. The outcome of battles and the course of campaigns are hard to foresee because so many things affect them. Predicting the result of conventional wars has proved difficult. Uncertainty about outcomes does not work decisively against the fighting of wars in conventional worlds. Countries armed with conventional weapons go to war knowing that even in defeat their suffering will be limited. Calculations about nuclear war are made differently. A nuclear world calls for a different kind of reasoning. If countries armed with nuclear weapons go to war with each other, they do so knowing that their suffering may be unlimited. Of course, it also may not be, but that is not the kind of uncertainty that encourages anyone to use force. In a conventional world, one is uncertain about winning or losing. In a nuclear world, one is uncertain about surviving or being annihilated. If force is used, and not kept within limits, catastrophe will result. That prediction is easy to make because it does not require close estimates of opposing forces. The number of one's cities that can be severely damaged is equal to the number of strategic warheads an adversary can deliver. Variations of number mean little within wide ranges. The expected effect of the deterrent achieves an easy clarity because wide margins of error in estimates of the damage one may suffer do not matter. Do we expect to lose one city or two, two cities or ten? When these are the pertinent questions, we stop thinking about running risks and start worrying about how to avoid them. In a conventional world, deterrent threats are ineffective because the damage threatened is distant, limited, and problematic. Nuclear weapons make military miscalculation difficult and politically pertinent prediction easy.

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