May 19, 2022

New CNAS Report | "Long Shadows: Deterrence in a Multipolar Nuclear Age"

By Stacie Pettyjohn, and Jennie Matuschak

Washington, May 19, 2022—Today, the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) released a new report, Long Shadows: Deterrence in a Multipolar Nuclear Age, from authors Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the Defense Program, and Jennie Matuschak, former research assistant in the Defense Program. The report examines the nuclear policies and postures of the United States and its three primary nuclear adversaries: China, Russia, and North Korea.

"For the first time, the United States faces two nuclear-armed great powers as well as a nuclear-armed regional adversary that it seeks to deter from attacking not only the U.S. homeland, but also its allies," write the authors. "Although the fundamental tenets of deterrence and tools like arms control remain unchanged, the current and future situation is more complex and challenging than the Cold War."

The report includes detailed analyses on the nuclear profiles of the U.S., Russia, China, and North Korea, along with an assessment of the nuclear capabilities of each of the countries relative to each other.

The report concludes by providing five policy recommendations based on the key findings. These recommendations are as follows:

  • The Biden administration should maintain current U.S. declaratory policy and implement existing modernization plans for the U.S. triad and nuclear infrastructure.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) should renew its focus on nuclear deterrence as a part of its strategy of integrated deterrence.
  • The United States should take steps to strengthen deterrence and crisis stability against North Korea.
  • The DoD must study escalation risks across a range of conventional and conflict scenarios with China, Russia, and North Korea to understand likely flashpoints and red lines.
  • The United States should pursue strategic dialogues with China and Russia and establish communication links and crisis mechanisms to avoid misperception and inadvertent escalation.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the report authors, please contact Cameron Edinburgh at cedinburgh@cnas.org


Authors

  • Stacie Pettyjohn

    Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Program

    Stacie Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at CNAS. Her areas of expertise include defense strategy, posture, force planning, the defense budget, ...

  • Jennie Matuschak

    Former Research Assistant, Defense Program

    Jennie Matuschak is a former research assistant for the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, Ms. Matuschak served as a Joseph S. Nye, ...