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The Spurious Nuclear Learning: Why Nixon Used Nuclear Coercion during the Vietnam War 상세보기 화면
제목 The Spurious Nuclear Learning: Why Nixon Used Nuclear Coercion during the Vietnam War
저자 Myung Chul Kim
Year 2020
Date December
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영문 키워드 nuclear weapons, coercive diplomacy, nuclear learning, President Nixon, Vietnam War
DOI https://doi.org/10.22883/kjda.2020.32.4.005

Because the existing nuclear theories overlook leaders’ historically diverse preferences about how to use nuclear weapons, they cannot adequately explain why the United States used nuclear coercion at all against weak states or for non-vital national interests when the United States had superior conventional forces. I argue that while U.S. leaders’ learning of the overly destructive damage of military nuclear use raised the threshold of using nuclear weapons to attack, the lack of learning or biased learning of the repercussions of coercive nuclear use allowed many leaders to retain their belief in the coercive power of nuclear weapons. Drawing on theoretical concepts of nuclear learning and historical analysis, this paper explains how U.S. leaders’ spurious learning of the political reality of nuclear weapons led them to the counterproductive use of nuclear coercion. The historical analysis shows that President Richard Nixon was more willing to use nuclear coercion to end the Vietnam War than other leaders like President Lyndon Johnson. Nixon derived his nuclear strategy, represented by his “madman theory,” from his observation of atomic diplomacy during the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis, though Nixon’s learning seemed to be fairly spurious as the role of nuclear coercive diplomacy in ending the War and Crisis is still highly debatable.

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