ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Nuclear War and US-Third World Relations-The Neglected Dimension

The Neglected Dimension James Petras Morris Morley INTRODUCTION THE subjects of nuclear warfare, the nuclear arms buildup, and the possibility of nuclear confrontation have become a major preoccupation of writers on international conflict. Part of the debate has centred on identifying the possible catalysts. Those deemed most likely to precipitate nuclear warfare or those appearing most frequently in the literature are: (1) Accident, error, or equipment malfunction or system failure; (2) The actions of a 'rogue general', or irrational behaviour by those in control of nuclear weapons; (3) Miscalculations. A conventional war could escalate if one government underestimates the other side's willingness to use nuclear weapons and, thus, deploy them. Or one combatant may experience either 'wishful thinking or exaggerated fears', cither of which could 'distort the assessment of risks in a crisis'1 and lead to a nuclear response; (4) The unintended consequences of a continuing military buildup by the superpowers; (5) A 'bolt-from-t he-blue' preemptive first strike by one superpower on the nuclear arsenal of the other to minimize losses from an attack by the other. Discussion of this possible action usually is premised on the belief thai a political conflict can be resolved only by military means and that a surprise nuclear offensive is better than waiting for the inevitable strike by an opponent; (6) Technological developments that have shortened the time nuclear weapons take to reach their targets or the time required to deploy new nuclear weapons; (7) Either deliberate or unintended consequences of actions by third parties that lead to superpower involvement. A third party may puusue an objective involving the use of nuclear weapons; or seek a goal by non- nuclear means that produces a sequence of events leading to nuclear war Involving the superpowers; or simply create an accident; and (8) Nuclear proliferation, especially in the third world, may increase the likelihood of nuclear war involving the two superpowers.

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