democracy versus deterrence-prepub.pdf (265.74 kB)
Download file

Democracy versus Deterrence: Nuclear Weapons and Political Integrity

Download (265.74 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 31.08.2017, 10:47 by Steve Cooke, Andrew Futter
This paper argues that the practice and performance of nuclear deterrence can never be fully representative or democratic due to the particular pressures placed on leaders by the nuclear condition. For nuclear deterrence to be effective – and for nuclear weapons to have any political value – a leader must always convince both their electorate as well as any possible foe, that they are willing to use nuclear weapons in extremis, irrespective of whether this is their true position. In any nuclear-armed state, where politicians privately believe that using nuclear weapons is always wrong, but publicly stress that possessing nuclear weapons to use as a deterrent is right, they are forced to act dishonestly. These tensions are particularly acute in the UK context given the reliance on just one form of nuclear weapons system for deterrence and the concurrent requirement to pre-delegate secret orders through a “letter of last resort”. The consequences for democratic nuclear-armed states are troubling; for public morality, the personal integrity of democratic leaders, and for true democratic accountability. The paper concludes that public criticism of political leaders, and citizen voting choices, ought to take account of the problem of transparency posed by policies of nuclear deterrence.

History

Citation

Politics, 2017, 1–14

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/Department of Politics and International Relations

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Politics

Publisher

SAGE Publications (UK and US), Political Studies Association

issn

0263-3957

eissn

1467-9256

Acceptance date

24/08/2017

Copyright date

2017

Available date

07/11/2017

Publisher version

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0263395717733978

Language

en