Avoiding Nuclear War: A RAND Research Approach and Agenda

by Mark A. Lorell, Nanette Brown

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This Note describes and assesses current research on the avoidance of nuclear war and outlines an overall research approach to the problem. This approach seeks to identify the basic issues emerging in the current debate and to define a research agenda suitable for addressing those issues. Three areas of disagreement persist among analysts considering the problem of nuclear war: (1) the paths to war, (2) the effect of nuclear weapons on the role of war in international relations, and (3) the objectives of escalation control and management. The authors propose that the analytic framework for studying these issues should encompass the entire escalation process, beginning with peace and moving to the level of massive nuclear exchanges. Their initial examination of the escalation process suggests that the effectiveness of different management measures may vary considerably depending on the intent of the actors, the accuracy of their assessments, and the stages of the situation in the escalation process.

This research in the public interest was supported by RAND, using discretionary funds made possible by the generosity of RAND's donors, the fees earned on client-funded research, and independent research and development (IR&D) funds provided by the Department of Defense.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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