Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Democracy versus Deterrence: Nuclear Weapons and Political Integrity
Authors: Cooke, Steve
Futter, Andrew
First Published: 5-Oct-2017
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US), Political Studies Association
Citation: Politics, 2017, 1–14
Abstract: 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.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0263395717733978
ISSN: 0263-3957
eISSN: 1467-9256
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2017, SAGE Publications (UK and US) . Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Politics and International Relations

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
democracy versus deterrence-prepub.pdfPost-review (final submitted author manuscript)265.74 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

Items in LRA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.