Nuclear Weapons in International Relations Analytical Essay by Nicky

An exploration of the role of nuclear weapons in past, present, and future international relations.
# 145218 | 2,013 words | 15 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Oct 29, 2010 in International Relations (War and Conflict)

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This paper examines the role of nuclear weapons in relations among the world's nations, asserting that international relations have been transformed through the use of nuclear strategy. The paper notes that the Bush Doctrine that was adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was presented to the public as a reformulation of America's traditional moral mission; a way to preserve American values in the face of the new threat of global terrorism. The paper takes the stance that the possession of weapons of nightmarish power is permitted only to those who can demonstrate that they hold the moral high ground; in the end, the threat of force replaces the use of force, yet that threat remains ever present. The paper concludes that as long as a superpower dreams of obtaining more weapons, there will always be more "enemies" for the superpower to fight - more enemies over whom it can demonstrate its moral superiority by virtue of its possessing a superior supply of nuclear weapons.

From the Paper:

"Khrushchev backed down, and the shell game moved back to Southeast Asia. Unable to deploy forces directly against each other, the two blocs faced off through a kind of proxy war. Once again, matters turned on the relative legitimacy of the two systems. Vietnam was presented to the public as a moral war, with a virtuous nuclear-armed power against its sinister Communist rivals. The decision whether to use or not to use nuclear weapons rested ultimately with persons of high moral standing - those within the American system who held what amounted to a "priestly knowledge" of these weapons' real capabilities, "Political leaders in the United States have failed throughout the nuclear age to consult with, or disclose to, the public the occasions on which the use of nuclear weapons was seriously contemplated." (Taylor) Nuclear strategy, like the decision to go to war was reserved for an elite few. The shadowy atmosphere that hung over America's nuclear strategy was reflected in the full daylight of the public controversy over the Vietnam Conflict. The public saw what America's elite could not - that the war was not winnable because American nuclear weapons could not protect America from foreign nuclear weapons. The military and civilian administrations could not define victory because there could be no victory. (Hirschbein 37) The destruction of communism in a particular region did nothing to stop the threat of nuclear destruction. Nuclear weapons deterred themselves - at least in the hands of major powers."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Botti, Timothy J. Ace in the Hole: Why the United States Did Not Use Nuclear Weapons in the Cold War, 1945 to 1965. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996.
  • Flint, Colin, ed. The Geography of War and Peace: From Death Camps to Diplomats. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Hilsman, Roger. From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1999.
  • Hirschbein, Ron. Massing the Tropes: The Metaphorical Construction of American Nuclear Strategy. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2005.
  • Hochman, Dafna. "Rehabilitating a Rogue: Libya's WMD Reversal and Lessons for US Policy." Parameters 36.1 (2006): 63+.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

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Nuclear Weapons in International Relations (2010, October 29) Retrieved February 06, 2023, from

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"Nuclear Weapons in International Relations" 29 October 2010. Web. 06 February. 2023. <>