October 14, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sean Harder, 563-264-1500
New Understanding of Security Threats
Must Drive Rethink of US Nuclear Weapons Policy
Muscatine, Iowa – A changing US strategic policy must be driven by a new understanding of the security threats facing the United States and the relative strengths and weaknesses in the measures adopted to meet them.
The overall strategic picture is trending along a set of particular pathways, characterized by:
Current policy will not be sustainable to achieve a secure nuclear future for the United States and the global community, and the United States must couch its nuclear decision making with the above indicators in mind.
A group of nuclear policy experts, academics, and NGO representatives met to discuss these issues at "US Strategic Posture and Conventional Capabilities," a roundtable at the Stanley Foundation's 49th annual Strategy for Peace Conference October 10-12, 2008, at Airlie Center near Warrenton, Virginia.
Issues discussed ranged from the current US nuclear doctrine to what steps the US should take toward continuing its support of a world without nuclear weapons. Stemming from the 2001 US Nuclear Posture Review, participants drew upon areas that need to be underscored looking toward a new administration that will develop its own Nuclear Policy Review in 2009.
Along with the growing realization of the above nuclear indicators, it is also true that military force in the 21st century is headed toward being a smaller subset of US foreign policy, and strategic utility of the unilateral use of force is declining.
In this strategic environment, roundtable participants achieved consensus that the main goal of US strategic policy should be to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, either by state or nonstate actors. Equally true, in this changing security environment, nuclear weapons in 2008 have no military utility, only political utility. The challenge is how to reduce the political utility of nuclear weapons in a manner that is strategically stable.
In order to move toward addressing this strategic environment, participants made a number of concrete recommendations for an incoming administration to consider:
Participants also noted several key questions that remain underexamined and ripe areas for future investigation. Among these are:
The Stanley Foundation will release a more comprehensive report on this Strategy for Peace Conference discussion in the coming weeks.
This document summarizes the primary findings developed at the event. Participants neither reviewed nor approved this document. Therefore, it should not be assumed that every participant subscribes to all of its recommendations, observations, and conclusions.
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The latest issue of Courier features articles on the state of securing nuclear material as the final nuclear security summit approaches in early April. It also includes a special reprint of an article from the Center for Public Intregrity, "The Stalking Threat of Nuclear Terrorism." Alex Bellamy, an expert on R2P, discusses the progress made in "Acting on the Responsibility to Protect," and three students from a global scholars conference comment about climate change. Lastly, a brief look at the foundation's Iowa Student Global Leadership conference. The full Spring 2016 issue. PDF (2.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE.
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