Books of Note
Outlier States: American Strategies to Change, Contain, or Engage Regimes
Robert S. Litwak, Johns Hopkins University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2012, 256 pp.
In this book, Robert S. Litwak examines the challenges of altering the behavior of states that operate outside international norms and assesses the Obama administration’s strategy and proposed methods for re-integrating these states into the global community. Specifically, he looks at the conceptual shift from the designation of states pursuing illegal nuclear programs and state-sponsored terrorism, such as Iran and North Korea, as “rogue states,” which grew in prominence during the George W. Bush administration, to the “outlier states” terminology employed by the Obama administration. Litwak argues that the latter term implies a new focus on compliance as a criterion for their acceptance into the international community. In application, the engagement strategy associated with the “outlier” terminology signals to such states that they can achieve “political rehabilitation” by changing their behavior. In the specific context of nuclear proliferation, pursuing an outlier strategy decouples the issue of denuclearization from regime change and achieves the former goal through a “retooled” containment strategy, including coercive diplomacy, deterrence, and reassurance. This differs significantly from the strategy associated with the rogue state designation. That approach emphasizes regime change, as in the case of Iraq, because it views the regime’s noncompliance as stemming from its character, which cannot be readily altered. Although not all readers are likely to agree that an outlier strategy can address proliferation concerns, Litwak makes a compelling and well-reasoned argument for its prospects.
Arms Control in the 21st Century: Between Coercion and Cooperation
Oliver Meier and Christopher Daase, eds., Routledge Global Security Studies, June 2012, 247 pp.
Oliver Meier and Christopher Daase, the editors of this collection of essays, argue that the international arms control and nonproliferation regime has experienced a “paradigm shift,” moving its focus from cooperation to coercion. According to Meier, a senior researcher with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg and the international representative and correspondent of the Arms Control Association, and Daase, a professor of international organization at the University of Frankfurt, arms control in the 20th century was based on verifiable, legally binding treaties, but in the beginning of the 21st century, the Bush administration instead emphasized informal arrangements to prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. The first several chapters are devoted to identifying and explaining this shift. The middle section evaluates the effectiveness of coercion techniques, including sanctions and the use of force in a preventive strike. The final chapters offer perspectives from other regions, including Europe, India, and the Middle East, on U.S. use of coercive methods. Not all the authors in this section agree that President George W. Bush’s policies constituted a paradigm shift. Meier and Daase outline lessons they draw from the various essays, such as “[c]oercive instruments should be applied with extreme caution” and “[w]e need a global consensus on the legitimacy of coercive measures.” Ultimately, they say, it is up to policymakers to improve coercion techniques by reconciling them within the framework of cooperation.—LAUREN WEISS
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