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Owen R. Coté

Owen Coté is Associate Director of the MIT Security Studies Program and Editor of the journal International Security.

Titles by This Author

Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material

What if the bomb that exploded in Oklahoma City or New York's World Trade Center had used 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium? The destruction would have been far more vast. This danger is not so remote: the recipe for making such a bomb is simple, and soon the ingredients might be easily attained. Thousands of nuclear weapons and hundreds of tons of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from the weapons complex of the former Soviet Union, poorly guarded and poorly accounted for, could soon leak on to a vast emerging nuclear black market.

This study by Graham Allison and three colleagues at Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs warns that containing the leakage of nuclear materials—and keeping them out of the hands of groups hostile to the United States—is our nation's highest security priority.

As the most open society on a shrinking planet, the United States has no reliable defense against smuggled weapons fashioned from black-market materials by a determined state or terrorist group. Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy highlights the fact that the only way to combat the threat is by preventing nuclear leakage in the first place. Its message is both timely and urgent: it outlines the new nuclear danger and details how to reshape U.S. national security policy to deal with these dangers.

 

Titles by This Editor

An International Security Reader

In recent years, a new wave of scholarship has argued that democracies have unique advantages that enable them to compete vigorously in international politics. Challenging long-held beliefs--some of which go back to Thucydides’ account of the clash between democratic Athens and authoritarian Sparta--that democracy is a liability in the harsh world of international affairs, many scholars now claim that democracies win most of their wars. This research suggests that democracies emerge victorious because they prudently choose to fight wars that they can win, and because they can marshal more resources, make better decisions, and muster public support for their military campaigns. Critics counter that democracy itself makes little difference in war and that other factors, such as overall power, determine whether a country tastes victory or defeat. In some cases, such as the Vietnam War, democracy may even have contributed to defeat.

The book includes crucial contributions to the debate over democracy and military victory, presenting important theoretical, conceptual, and empirical arguments.

Roots, Strategies, and Responses

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, scholars and policy analysts in national security have turned their attention to terrorism, considering not only how to prevent future attacks but also the roots of the problem. This book offers some of the latest research in terrorism studies. The contributors examine the sources of contemporary terrorism, discussing the impact of globalization, the influence of religious beliefs, and the increasing dissatisfaction felt by the world’s powerless. They consider the strategies and motivations of terrorists, offering contending perspectives on whether or not terrorists can be said to achieve their goals; explore different responses to the threat of terrorism, discussing such topics as how the United States can work more effectively with its allies; and contemplate the future of al-Qaida, asking if its networked structure is an asset or a liability.

The essays in Contending with Terrorism address some of the central topics in the analysis of contemporary terrorism. They promise to guide future policy and inspire further research into one of most important security issues of the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Max Abrahms, Daniel Byman, Erica Chenoweth, Audrey Kurth Cronin, Renée de Nevers, Mette Eilstrup-Sangiovanni, Hillel Frisch, Calvert Jones, Andrew Kydd, Sean M. Lynn-Jones, Elizabeth McClellan, Nicholas Miller, Assaf Moghadam, Michael Mousseau, Rysia Murphy, William Rose, Paul Staniland, Robert Trager, Barbara Walter, Dessislava Zagorcheva

Nuclear Proliferation and International Security in the 21st Century

The spread of nuclear weapons is one of the most significant challenges to global security in the twenty-first century. Limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials may be the key to preventing a nuclear war or a catastrophic act of nuclear terrorism. Going Nuclear offers conceptual, historical, and analytical perspectives on current problems in controlling nuclear proliferation. It includes essays that examine why countries seek nuclear weapons as well as studies of the nuclear programs of India, Pakistan, and South Africa. The final section of the book offers recommendations for responding to the major contemporary proliferation challenges: keeping nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists, ensuring that countries that renounce nuclear weapons never change their minds, and cracking down on networks that illicitly spread nuclear technologies.

Nearly all the chapters in this book have been previously published in the journal International Security. It contains a new preface and one chapter commissioned specifically for the volume, Matthew Bunn's "Nuclear Terrorism: A Strategy for Prevention."

Contributors: Samina Ahmed, Chaim Braun, Matthew Bunn, Christopher F. Chyba, Matthew Fuhrmann, Šumit Ganguly, S. Paul Kapur, Ariel E. Levite, Peter Liberman, Austin Long, Sean M. Lynn-Jones, Alexander H. Montgomery, Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, William C. Potter, Whitney Raas, Scott D. Sagan, Etel Solingen

American Power and International Stability

The unprecedented military, economic, and political power of the United States has led some observers to declare that we live in a unipolar world in which America enjoys primacy or even hegemony. At the same time public opinion polls abroad reveal high levels of anti-Americanism, and many foreign governments criticize U.S. policies. Primacy and Its Discontents explores the sources of American primacy, including the uses of U.S. military power, and the likely duration of unipolarity. It offers theoretical arguments for why the rest of the world will—or will not—align against the United States. Several chapters argue that the United States is not immune to the long-standing tendency of states to balance against power, while others contend that wise U.S. policies, the growing role of international institutions, and the spread of liberal democracy can limit anti-American balancing. The final chapters debate whether countries are already engaging in "soft balancing" against the United States. The contributors offer alternative prescriptions for U.S. foreign policy, ranging from vigorous efforts to maintain American primacy to acceptance of a multipolar world of several great powers.

Contributors: Gerard Alexander, Stephen Brooks, John G. Ikenberry, Christopher Layne, Keir Lieber, John Owen IV, Robert Pape, T. V. Paul, Barry Posen, Kenneth Waltz, William Wohlforth

Offense-defense theory argues that the relative ease of offense and defense varies in international politics. When the offense has the advantage, military conquest becomes easier and war is more likely; the opposite is true when the defense has the advantage. The balance between offense and defense depends on geography, technology, and other factors. This theory, and the body of related theories, has generated much debate and research over the past twenty-five years.

This book presents a comprehensive overview of offense-defense theory. It includes contending views on the theory and some of the most recent attempts to refine and test it.

Changing Dimensions of International Security

Despite growing concerns after September 11, 2001, over the global terrorist threat and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, international security no longer hinges only on arms control and the prevention of war. Nonmilitary concerns, including emerging infectious diseases, environmental degradation, demographic trends, and humanitarian catastrophes, also represent significant threats to global stability. In this book, leading analysts offer an overview of critical security dangers facing the world today.

The book looks first at the relationship between weapons and security, discussing such aspects of proliferation as "nuclear entrepreneurship" in Russia and the threat of biological warfare. It then examines nonmilitary security concerns, including resource scarcity, migration, HIV/AIDS in Africa, and why humanitarian assistance sometimes does more harm than good. Finally, it looks at the role of transnational actors, including terrorist groups, nongovernmental organizations, and the privatized military industry.

Most recent wars have been complex and bloody internal conflicts driven to a significant degree by nationalism and ethnic animosity. Since the end of the Cold War, dozens of wars—in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Somalia, the former Soviet Union, and elsewhere—have killed or displaced millions of people. Understanding and controlling these wars has become one of the most important and frustrating tasks for scholars and political leaders.

This revised and expanded edition of Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict contains essays from some of the world's leading analysts of nationalism, ethnic conflict, and internal war. The essays from the first edition have been updated and supplemented by analyses of recent conflicts and new research on the resolution of ethnic and civil wars.

The first part of the book addresses the roots of nationalistic and ethnic wars, focusing in particular on the former Yugoslavia. The second part assesses options for international action, including the use of force and the deployment of peacekeeping troops. The third part examines political challenges that often complicate attempts to prevent or end internal conflicts, including refugee flows and the special difficulties of resolving civil wars.

China's relentless economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s heralded its emergence as a great power in world politics. As its economy expanded, China seemed poised to become the second-largest economy in the world. At the same time, it modernized its military and adopted a more assertive diplomatic posture. Many observers have begun to debate the international implications of China's rise. Some analysts argue that China will inevitably pose a threat to peace and security in East Asia. A few even predict a new cold war between Beijing and Washington. Others claim that a powerful China can remain benign. None believes that China can be ignored. The essays in this volume assess China's emerging capabilities and intentions, debate the impact that China will have on security in the Asia-Pacific region, and propose polices for the United States to adopt in its relations with China.

More than a decade has passed since the end of the Cold War, but the United States has yet to reach a consensus on a coherent approach to the international use of American power. The essays in this volume present contending perspectives on the future of U.S. grand strategy. U.S. policy options include primacy, cooperative security, selective engagement, and retrenchment. This revised edition includes additional and more recent analysis and advocacy of these options. The volume includes the Clinton administration's National Security Strategy for a New Century, the most recent official statement of American grand strategy, so readers can compare proposed strategies with the official U.S. government position.

Stephen Walt and His Critics

Formal theories and rational choice methods have become increasingly prominent in most social sciences in the past few decades. Proponents of formal theoretical approaches argue that these methods are more scientific and sophisticated than other approaches, and that formal methods have already generated significant theoretical progress. As more and more social scientists adopt formal theoretical approaches, critics have argued that these methods are flawed and that they should not become dominant in most social-science disciplines.

Rational Choice and Security Studies presents opposing views on the merits of formal rational choice approaches as they have been applied in the subfield of international security studies. This volume includes Stephen Walt's article "Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies," critical replies from prominent political scientists, and Walt's rejoinder to his critics.

Walt argues that formal approaches have not led to creative new theoretical explanations, that they lack empirical support, and that they have contributed little to the analysis of important contemporary security problems. In their replies, proponents of rational choice approaches emphasize that formal methods are essential for achieving theoretical consistency and precision.