Regional Peace and Nuclear Weapons
Introduction to IJWP, June 2021
This issue has two themes: regional peace and stability, and China’s perspective on nuclear weapons. Peace and stability are examined in two regions: India and its neighbors to the east, and Nigeria and it neighbors to the northeast. Both these regional powers have neighbors who share ethnic and cultural backgrounds and are artificially divided by state administrative boundaries. These people want to freely associate. However, in both cases the surrounding states are less stable, more impoverished, and serve as harbors for terrorists.
In the first article, “India’s Foreign Policy Calculus: The Northeast Region as a Transformational Zone of Peace and Stability” by Dominic K. Khanyo, India’s eastern neighbors—Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam—are also China’s southern neighbors. The growing power competition between India and China makes these neighboring countries both important for trade and security. India’s northeast region, largely wedged between Bangladesh and Myanmar is of strategic importance in India’s foreign policy for the region. The countries in this region can be a buffer between the two rising powers of India and China, which would both benefit from transportation routes to South and Southeast Asian ports and peaceful and stable trading relations.
The second article, “Nigeria’s Foreign and Security Policies in the Era of Boko Haram Terrorism” by Sunday Omotuyi, looks at the region to the northeast of Nigeria—Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Again, the borders are quite porous because they cut right through ethnic groups. In recent years Boko Haram has been able to conduct terrorist raids and kidnapping in Northern Nigeria, and then escape across borders for safe haven. This has forced Nigeria’s foreign policy to focus on better security cooperation with its neighbors, so that if crimes are conducted in Nigeria, it neighbors will assist in the capture of the perpetrators.
The problem of safe haven for non-state actors first became prominent in the West after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York were perpetrated by people with refuge in Afghanistan. Russia had suffered such attacks earlier. The paper on India’s Northeast region has similar concerns about terrorists hiding in Myanmar and Nigeria has been worried about terrorists hiding in Chad. Currently, the United States is worried about criminal gangs crossing the Mexican border, smuggling people, contraband materials, and committing robbery and violence. The issue of open borders for trade and family visits vs. the need for security from criminals hiding in neighboring countries is a global post-Cold War problem. This requires a new focus on regional good neighborliness and coordinated apprehension of criminals for the sake of peace and stability. Unfortunately, the booty gained from wealthier countries by criminal enterprises is often shared with corrupt leaders of states in exchange for protection.
Indian and Nigerian foreign policies are hopeful examples of addressing this problem of cross-border trade and security. They validate Immanuel Kant’s idea of a “cunning of history” and the voluntary seeking of federations among states for “perpetual peace.”
Our third article, “Varying Perceptions of Nuclear No-First-Use: Chinese–United States Convergences and Discordance” by Zhong Ai, is a discussion of the policy of “no first use” (NFU) from a Chinese perspective. No first use is a position that Mao Zedong stated when China began to develop nuclear weapons. Mao argued that if China did not want to be bullied, they needed nuclear weapons at least as a deterrent against attack by another nation. And, it was tactically valuable for Mao to pledge NFU in an attempt to lessen the likelihood other states would interfere with China developing them. Mao’s doctrine continues to influence China’s nuclear policy. But is NFU an adequate policy?
Zhong states that, from the standpoint of nuclear strategy, NFU is only logical if it is premised on a credible second-strike capability. However, from the standpoint of peace, NFU is a first step required in confidence building towards nuclear disarmament. It puts rival states at more ease. In the days of Mao, China only sought deterrent capability, however today China is a world power capable of building a second strike capability equal to the United States or the Soviet Union. From the strategic standpoint, China should develop a second strike capability, but from the standpoint of peace it asks the US and other nuclear powers to declare NFU and enter into strategic arms reductions.
Zhong argues that the US will not commit to a NFU policy because the element of uncertainty serves as a deterrent against a first strike by a rival power. Further, using the idea of “preemptive war” to invade Iraq in 2003, the US has shown disregard for the central tenant of just war theory—that it is wrong to attack another sovereign state, and force can only be legitimately used for defense, and then only in proportion. China, North Korea, and Iran all point to this rogue US behavior as a reason to expand their nuclear arsenals.
Zhong does not fully address anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs), which are more consistent with the principles of just war theory than weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). ABMs are strictly defensive weapons and thus do not pose a direct threat to other states. However, if a state has both nuclear missiles and ABMS, they are a greater threat to other states because they can both be an aggressor and defend themselves against a state that has pledged NFU. Rather than develop a second strike capability, which is a policy that accepts killing many innocent people, the development of ABMs represent a moral high ground.
If every nuclear state were to possess ABMs capable of thwarting a nuclear strike by an aggressive regime, a nuclear disarmament treaty would be easier to achieve and the world would not have to live under fear of mass extinction from nuclear weapons. States with ABMs refusing to negotiate strategic arms reduction would expose themselves as having aggressive intentions that did not value human life and merit sanctions by the rest of the world.
Finally, in our book review section we have taken the liberty to publish a review of a 1954 book of Pitirim Sorokin, who argues,
If unselfish love does not extend over the whole of humanity, if it is confined within one group—a given family, tribe, nation, race, religious denomination, political party, trade union, caste, social class or any part of humanity—in such an in-group altruism tends to generate an out-group antagonism.
Sorokin’s statement applies to the adoption and acceptance of just war theory, and it extends to all states if antagonism is to be avoided and nuclear threats diminished.
Gordon L. Anderson, Ph.D.
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