Pathogens as weapons : the international security implications of biological warfare
Author(s)Koblentz, Gregory D
International security implications of biological warfare
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Stephen Van Evera.
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This dissertation assesses the international security implications of biological weapons and the strategic consequences of their proliferation. It examines the impact of biological weapons on four key areas of concern for international security: proliferation, deterrence, civil-military relations, and threat assessment. The dissertation draws upon a range of theories from the field of security studies and a wealth of newly available information regarding the biological weapons programs of Iraq, the former Soviet Union, the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa. My analysis yields four major findings. First, it is extremely difficult to prevent the spread of biological warfare capabilities to actors that want them and these actors tend to be motivated by a desire to challenge the status quo. Contrary to conventional wisdom, biological weapons have utility across the spectrum of conflict and are well suited to supporting asymmetric strategies against stronger opponents. Second, biological weapons do not confer the deterrent benefits associated with nuclear weapons and will undermine reliance on deterrence as a security strategy. Biological weapons are not suitable as strategic deterrents due to the uncertainty regarding their effects, the availability of defenses and the reliance of these weapons on secrecy and surprise for their effectiveness. The accessibility of these weapons to a diverse range of actors, including terrorists, and the ease of clandestine attacks undermines the effectiveness of deterrence as a security strategy. Third, civilian oversight of biological warfare programs is hindered by the intense secrecy that shrouds these programs. This lack of supervision leads to abuse and corruption by(cont.) program managers, impedes adherence to international agreements, and increases the risk of such programs becoming the source of materials for terrorists. Fourth, states tend to have flawed assessments of their opponent's biological warfare capabilities and intentions. The result of such flawed assessments may be worst-case planning and overreaction to a perceived threat or complacency and continued vulnerability to attack. Biological. weapons will continue to exert a destabilizing influence on international security until defenses against these weapons are improved, governments can reliably detect biological weapons activities, the proliferation of biological weapons materials and expertise is staunched, and the norms against their possession and use are strengthened.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2004.Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-222).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology