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Taylor & Francis
Published in Nonproliferation Review, 20(1) 2013: 107-22.
The Obama administration has made a great effort to increase the role of advanced conventional weaponry in US national security thinking and practice, in part to help reinvigorate the global nuclear disarmament agenda by reducing the role played by nuclear weapons in the US defense posture. However, such a strategy is fundamentally flawed because increases in US conventional superiority will exacerbate US relative strength vis-à-vis other powers, and therefore make the prospect of a nuclear weapon-free world seem less attractive to Washington’s current and potential nuclear rivals. Consequently, it is highly likely that the impact of efforts to increase US advanced conventional superiority through ballistic missile defense and a conventional “prompt global strike” program will ensure that the Obama administration is adopting a pathway to nuclear abolition on which it is the sole traveler for the foreseeable future.