Inadvertent Escalation

Inadvertent Escalation

Conventional War and Nuclear Risks

In this sobering book, Barry R. Posen demonstrates how the interplay between conventional military operations and nuclear forces could, in conflicts among states armed with both conventional and nuclear weaponry, inadvertently produce pressures for nuclear escalation. Knowledge of these hidden pressures, he believes, may help some future decision maker avoid catastrophe.

Building a formidable argument that moves with cumulative force, he details the way in which escalation could occur not by mindless accident, or by deliberate preference for nuclear escalation, but rather as a natural accompaniment of land, naval, or air warfare at the conventional level. Posen bases his analysis on an empirical study of the east-west military competition in Europe during the 1980s, using a conceptual framework drawn from international relations theory, organization theory, and strategic theory.

The lessons of his book, however, go well beyond the east-west competition. Since his observations are relevant to all military competitions between states armed with both conventional and nuclear weaponry, his book speaks to some of the problems that attend the proliferation of nuclear weapons in longstanding regional conflicts. Optimism that small and medium nuclear powers can easily achieve "stable" nuclear balances is, he believes, unwarranted.

Barry R. Posen

Barry R. Posen is Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Security Studies Program at MIT. He is the author of The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between the World Wars (winner of the Furniss Award and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award), Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks, and Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy, all from Cornell.



Restraint
A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy
Barry R. Posen
The United States, Barry R. Posen argues, has grown incapable of moderating its ambitions in international politics. In contrast to the failures and unexpected problems that have stemmed from America's consistent overreaching, Posen makes an urgent argument for restraint in the future use of U.S. military strength.



The Sources of Military Doctrine
France, Britain, and Germany Between the World Wars
Barry R. Posen
Barry R. Posen explores how military doctrine takes shape and the role it plays in grand strategy—that collection of military, economic, and political means and ends with which a state attempts to achieve security.