Did British and French acquisition of nuclear weapons slow their decline as great powers? Not in the slightest. . . .There is no reason to suppose that Iran's situation would change very much if it acquired the bomb, either, and therefore no reason to agonize about it. Let alone go to war.
Did China's detonation of a bomb in 1964 suddenly make them a superpower? Hardly. China remained a minor actor on the world stage until it adopted market principles, and its rising global influence is due to three decades of economic growth, not a pile of nukes. . . .
The white government in South Africa eventually produced a handful of bombs, but nobody noticed and apartheid ended anyway.
What about India and Pakistan? India's "peaceful nuclear explosion" in 1974 didn't turn it into a global superpower, and its only real effect was to spur Pakistan -- which was already an avowed rival -- to get one too. And it's worth noting that there hasn't been a large-scale war between the two countries since, despite considerable grievances on both sides and occasional skirmishes and other provocations.
Monday, December 3, 2012
Does Getting a Nuclear Weapon Change much for a Country?
Apropos of the alarmism about Iran getting a bomb, Stephen Walt asks what happened when other countries went nuclear: