July 23, 2019 —
The term “strategic stability” originated from the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. It referred to the idea that, despite their global competition, Washington and Moscow had a vested self-interest in establishing a stable, balanced deterrent relationship between their respective military forces and avoiding nuclear war. Reducing incentives for nuclear arms racing or launching a preemptive nuclear strike thus became central organizing principles for Cold War diplomacy and the pursuit of superpower detente.
Despite decades of talks, however, a fully realized and jointly shared understanding of strategic stability proved elusive. Both parties agreed strategic stability was an important end state, but neither could agree on a concrete definition of the term. As Adam N. Stulberg and Lawrence Rubin discuss in their introduction to this edited volume, this phenomenon persists in the Great Power competitions and regional rivalries of today. The concept of strategic stability remains a touchstone for scholars and policy makers attempting to understand the complex role played by nuclear weapons in contemporary international affairs. But it also remains devilishly difficult to define, negotiate, and implement between today’s nuclear rivals. READ MORE>>>