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Extended Nuclear Deterrence and Participation: Overcome Together, Don’t Go It Alone

By Wolfgang Richter

In order to prevent further political and military destabilization, Germany must assume its leading role in Europe responsibly. At the present time, a unilateral withdrawal of the Federal Republic from nuclear sharing would shake up European solidarity and stability. At the same time, however, it is important to suppress the concepts of limited nuclear warfare with tactical nuclear weapons and to breathe new life into conventional and nuclear arms control.

The concept of nuclear deterrence emerged at the beginning of the Cold War from the conventional inferiority of the United States and their allies in Europe to the Soviet Union. At the beginning of the East-West conflict, the Allies deterred with massive nuclear weapons strikes in the event of an aggression by the Soviet Union. Due to the Soviet Union’s developing capacity of a strategic retaliatory strike, NATO’s deterrence strategy was adjusted several times over the duration of the conflict by strengthening the conventional armed forces. The “decoupling debate” that is recurring today also has its origin here.

After the end of the Cold War, various opportunities were missed to create a strategic balance of interests between the United States and Russia. At least since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the dilemmas of the escalation theories have returned. Although the nuclear arsenals on both sides are nowhere near as large as they were in the Cold War era, there is still mutual destructibility. In addition, the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons comes to the fore today.

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