The domino theory–as it applies to “going nuclear”–is a myth unsubstantiated by history according to Johan Bergenas author of The Nuclear Domino Myth and writing for the Stimson Center in Foreign Affairs.  He argues the mere handful of nuclear-weapons capable nations is direct evidence of the nuclear domino myth and that a nuclear Iran doesn’t mean the rest of the Middle East will similarly go nuclear.

Such a hypothesis is impossible to definitively prove or disprove, however, Bergenas’ argument comes undone with his acknowledgement the U.S.’s nuclear umbrella has stopped nuclear dominos from falling recently.

Bergenas points out after North Korea went nuclear, neither neighboring South Korea nor Japan did even though they both have the capability to do so.

So does this disprove the nuclear domino theory?  Not at all.  Instead, it’s a confirmation of the concept of containment, because as Bergenas says, “These countries’ decisions to not go nuclear are largely thanks to extensive U.S. efforts to dissuade them.”

Largely, eh?

So if the U.S. had not dissuaded South Korea and Japan, they would likely have gone nuclear?  In other words, it appears a nuclear domino effect exists, but that it can be stopped with containment (that is, via the U.S. nuclear umbrella).

So from analogy, when Iran goes nuclear, if the rest of the Middle East doesn’t follow suit, it will be because the U.S. nuclear umbrella is in place, right?  Again, that would appear to be domino interrupted and not domino denied.

What if the rest of the Middle East does follow suit?  More evidence the nuclear domino myth is itself a myth, right?  Domino suggested—again, you can’t prove or disprove this stuff–versus domino denied.

Perhaps a more accurate demythification effort would deal with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Could one draw the conclusion the NPT is largely a totem given the fact three of the world’s nine nuclear-weapons nations are non-signatories to the NPT, and a fourth has withdrawn from it?

What’s often described as non-proliferation is instead managed proliferation (under the auspices of the peaceful use of nuclear energy).  Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Jordan are going to get nuclear power capabilities soon.  Is this non-proliferation?  A precursor to nuclear dominos falling?  Or, is it nuclear dominos actually falling?  Green energy?  I guess it depends on your definitions.


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