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Best of Intentions

America's Campaign Against Strategic Weapons Proliferation

by Henry D. Sokolski


Examines U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of strategic weapons from 1945 to the present.

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April 2001


Pages 184
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/U.S. Defense Policy and Programs
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Although the United States efforts to prevent the spread of strategic weapons have varied significantly since 1945, they all presumed to be avoiding one or another type of strategic war. To the extent their military scenarios were sound, so too were the nonproliferation remedies these initiatives promoted. But, as Sokolski demonstrates, the obverse was also true--when these intiatives' military hopes and fears were mistaken, their nonproliferation recommendations also missed their mark.

What is the best hope for breaking out of this box and securing a higher rate of nonproliferation success? The United States must base nonproliferation policies less on insights concerning strategic military trends and more on the progressive economic and political trends that have increased the number of relatively peaceful, prosperous, liberal democracies. For the proliferating nations that are exceptions to this trend, the U.S. and its allies need to devise ways of competing that will encourage these governments to expend more energies shoring up their weaknesses and eventually giving way to less militant regimes. A major resource for students and military professionals interested in arms control and international relations.

Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Topic Centers

Foreword by Jim Woolsey
The First Half Century
The Baruch Plan
Atoms for Peace
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
Proliferation Technology Control Regimes
The Next Campaign
Appendix I: The Baruch Plan, Presented to the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, June 14, 1946
Appendix II: President Eisenhower's Address Before the General Assembly of the United Nations on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, December 8, 1953
Appendix III: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Appendix IV: Multilateral Export Control Regimes: Membership and Related Websites
Appendix V: Secretary of Defense Les Aspin's Remarks before the National Academy of Sciences Committee on International Security and Arms Control. December 7, 1993



...a well written and researched study of America's attempts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The graphs, appendixes, and bibliography are excellent and exhaustive. A worthy purchase for university libaries and an excellent volume for graduate and undergraduate national security classes.—Choice

...admirably lays out the essentials of nonproliferation history of all major anti-proliferation efforts. It is a brief work, but admirably lays out the essentials of nonproliferation history without excessive jargon or overly detailed technical discussions. These virtues make ^IBest of Intentions^R a very good choice for both undergraduate and graduate courses that address nonproliferation, as well as a useful primer for interested laypersons.—Comparative Strategy

...a significant work of scholarship: the first comprehensive history of American efforts to stop the global spread of strategic weapons capabilities since World War 2. Any self-respecting grown-up will want to buy a copy immediately.—The Weekly Standard

[It] contributes to multiple sets of literature. It belongs to the rich literature on nuclear doctrines, but breaks new ground in dissecting U.S. nonproliferation policy initiatives. In particular, the work belongs to an underdeveloped literature critiquing prevailing deterrence and arms control theory by emphasizing how intent, rather than capability, matters most to nuclear peace....It adds to the literature on U.S. foreign policy doctrines....the work links nonproliferation to the literature on the democratic peace and the importance of democracy-promotion. This final contribution may be even more crucial than Sokolski intended.—National Security Studies Quarterly

...Sokolski shows how many American nonproliferation efforts have been based on flawed understandings of the nuclear threat at various times. He concludes with strategies to correct for these misconceptions and offers some hope about the nature of the problem in the future.—Orbis


Henry Sokolski's work earns wide regard because it is both informed and trenchant. His analysis offers valuable insights and presents important challenges--not only to those who have advocated prior non-proliferation initiatives but to those who contend that there are better options. Sokolski's study calls the former to reassess the mixed results of arms control policies, the latter to prove that, beyond complaints, they can in fact map a sounder path to security.—Alton Frye^LVice President^LThe Council on Foreign Relations

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