Begrenzte Großmachtkriege unterhalb der Nuklearschwelle

von Ralf Ostner

US-Strategen wie TX Hammes mit seiner Offshore Controll oder Airseabattle in Anlehnung an das Airlandbattle der NATO in den 80er Jahren, halten Großmachtkriege für begrenzbar unterhalb der Nuklearschwelle. Auch der indische Ex-General Asthana hält einen konventionellen Krieg mit Pakistan unterhalb eines Atomkriegs für denkbar. In diese strategischen Denker reiht sich nun auch ein russischer Denker ein. Sehr lesenswerter Artikel in Russia in Global Affairs über die Bedeutung und Entwicklung der Rolle von Atomwaffen in der Zukunft, ja vielleicht auch gefährliche Gedanken innerhalb Rußlands:

“Long Peace” and Nuclear Weapons

26 march 2019
Will They Prevent Big War?

Alexei V. Fenenko, Doctor of Political Science

Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Associate Professor of Faculty of World Politics




Technically and politically, a land-based regional war between Russia and the United States is now more likely than in the 1960s and it may be a great temptation for politicians. In this situation, nuclear weapons will hardly serve as a deterrent. We often forget that the use of nuclear weapons is not a military but a political factor: using them requires a top-level approval. Such an approval is unlikely not only during a limited war on the territory of a third state but also during a full-scale war. It would be appropriate to recall the “chemical precedent” when great powers fight without resorting to their weapons of mass destruction.(…)


Conditions are also developing for conducting major regional wars. Over the past ten years, there have emerged at least two conflict areas between Russia and the United States—the Baltic-Black Sea region and the Middle East—where the parties are deploying military infrastructures in close proximity to each other. In the future, Afghanistan may become a third such area, where U.S. bases are potential targets for Russian retaliatory strikes if Russian facilities are destroyed somewhere else. The U.S. and Russia are actively developing, and now deploying in crisis regions, various types of air defense systems and regional missile defense systems. Washington’s plans to recreate a fleet of medium and shorter-range missiles fit into this logic. They are an ideal means for taking hostage as many regional objects as possible.

Theoretically, one can imagine a limited war between great powers, in which nuclear weapons will not be used, just as chemical weapons were not used in World War II.

The key question of the 21st century strategy is: Can nuclear weapons be used in some other way, beyond the “air power” concept? There have been no such strategies so far. Yet, the past twenty years have seen new interesting studies in this area.

  • “Minimization” of nuclear weapons. In the early 2000s, publications appeared in the United States on the creation of “mini-nukes” with a yield of one to five kilotons (Caldicott, 2004). This weapon can theoretically be used to destroy hard and deeply buried targets with minimal environmental consequences. Nuclear weapons will repeat the evolution of artillery in the early mopern period, from heavy siege weapons of the Hundred Years’ War to light quick-firing guns of the 16th century.
  • Combination of tactical nuclear weapons and infantry actions. Similar experiments were conducted during military exercises in the United States and the Soviet Union back in the 1950s. However, this idea was revived in the U.S. “joint operations” concept of 2005. It provides for combining the use of rapid reaction forces and local nuclear strikes (Doctrine, 2005). There has been no data so far testifying to the continuation of these studies, but these may be secret.
  • “Weapon of genocide”. Russian expert Andrei Kokoshin back in 2003 wrote that nuclear war may have a political goal as a war waged by a nuclear state against a non-nuclear one (Kokoshin, 2003, p. 3). In this case, nuclear weapons turn into weapons of genocide of certain peoples. Perhaps, an ideal solution to this problem would be “a light version of nuclear weapons,” such as neutron bombs which destroy organic matter and inflict minimal damage on infrastructure. Genocide, the scale of which in the first half of the 20th century was limited due to a low technological level, is now becoming easier to commit.

There arises a seemingly unusual perspective. It is not nuclear weapons that help maintain stability; rather, a gradual decay of the “long peace” will raise the need for the transformation of nuclear weapons, perhaps, into some other type of weapon. Modern types of nuclear weapons are not suitable for large regional wars. Therefore, they may either die out (which, in fact, has happened to chemical weapons, which are now being destroyed) or adapt to new conditions and become an integral part of future regional conflicts. Nuclear weapons already act not so much as a guarantee against war as a guarantee that your enemy will not use them against you—like chemical weapons in World War II.



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