AuthorHoadley, Stephen


Author: Commander Robert Green

Published by: Spokesman Books, Nottingham, 2018, 266pp, $36.

This is a thoughtful book by a former Royal Navy officer, Robert Green, whose duties included preparing to deliver nuclear weapons. (Robert Green is co-director, with Dr Kate Dewes ONZM, of the Disarmament and Security Centre, Christchurch, and formerly chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Middle Power Initiative.) Its equally thoughtful foreword is written by Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, RN. Its text is supplemented by an informative glossary of political institutions, treaties, concepts and weapons.

The premise of the book is familiar to anyone active in, or sympathetic to, the anti-nuclear movement: that the use of nuclear weapons would be indiscriminate, disproportionate, provocative and potentially suicidal. Further, the possession of a nuclear weapon delivery capability is not only risky and expensive but also has proved to be ineffective in preventing conflicts such as wars in the Middle East, South Asia and South-east Asia, and useless in addressing nontraditional security threats such as terrorism, drug mafias, pandemics, irregular migration and climate change.

This poses a dilemma to governments whose security policies rely on doctrines of deterrence, and consequent maintenance of nuclear weapons delivery systems. How such governments can, and should be, persuaded to eschew nuclear weapons is the main contribution of Green's book.

After lucidly summarising the tangled history, dubious legality, casual immorality, specious logic and misinformed politics of nuclear weapons acquisition, deployment and upgrading, Green proposes an alternative: 'non-provocative defence'. This concept, popular in the 1980s (see Geoffrey Wiseman's Concepts of Non-Provocative Defence) entails not only reoriented weapons configurations by governments but also new diplomatic and economic initiatives that are unambiguously defensive, thus conveying to all potential adversaries the willingness to co-operate, and never threaten to attack.

How are governments to move from the present reliance on nuclear deterrence to a future of non-provocative defence? Green offers six recommendations:

* pledge no first use of nuclear weapons...

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