Mark 17 Nuclear Bomb

When Allies Go Nuclear

February 12, 2021
Chuck Hagel, Malcolm Rifkind, Kevin Rudd and Ivo Daalder
This is a summary of an article originally published by Foreign Affairs with the subheading: "How to Prevent the Next Proliferation Threat."

In their latest piece for Foreign Affairs, Chuck Hagel, Malcolm Rifkind, Kevin Rudd and Ivo Daalder discuss the growing threat of nuclear proliferation among U.S. allies.

The authors write that, historically, U.S. allies in Europe and Asia have felt safe without nuclear arsenals due to widespread global participation and adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as U.S. commitments to protect allies under its “nuclear umbrella.”

However, the authors observe that circumstances have changed as “U.S. allies face a growing military threat from nuclear-armed powers, as China and Russia each become more aggressive and modernize their nuclear forces.” Simultaneously, the authors argue that allies perceive the United States as a less reliable ally and guarantor of safety, particularly during Donald Trump’s tenure as the administration expressed skepticism toward traditional alliances and institutions. In response, countries such as Germany, Poland, Japan, South Korea and Australia are, to varying extents, reconsidering their nuclear deterrence strategies.

The authors suggest several strategies to counter this growing unease, including reaffirming global security commitments, bringing “NATO and Asian allies into the nuclear planning process,” planning more joint military exercises and helping allies build up their defense capabilities.

Read the full article at Foreign Affairs.


Chuck Hagel

Chuck Hagel was the U.S. secretary of defense in 2013 to 2015.


Malcolm Rifkind

Malcolm Rifkind was the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary in 1995 to 1997 and its defense secretary in 1992 to 1995.


Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd is president of the Asia Society in New York and was prime minister of Australia in 2007 to 2010 and 2013.


Ivo Daalder

Ivo Daalder is president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He was the U.S. permanent representative to NATO in 2009 to 2013.

Photo by Kelly Michals shared under a Creative Commons license.