Elizabeth A. Stanley. International Perceptions of U.S. Nuclear Policy. Sandia Report SAND2007-0903 (Sandia National Laboratories, February 2007), 128 pp.
This report presents a summary of international perceptions and beliefs about U.S. nuclear policy, focusing on four countries—China, Iran, Pakistan and Germany—chosen because they span the spectrum of states with which the United States has relationships. Paradoxically, although the goal of U.S. nuclear policy is to make the United States and its allies safer through a policy of deterrence, international perceptions of U.S. nuclear policy may actually be making the United States less safe by eroding its soft power and global leadership position. Broadly held perceptions include a pattern of U.S. hypocrisy and double standards—one set for the United States and its allies, and another set for all others. Importantly, the U.S. nuclear posture is not seen in a vacuum, but as one piece of the United States’ behavior on the world stage. Because of this, the potential direct side effects of any negative international perceptions of U.S. nuclear policy can be somewhat mitigated, dependent on other U.S. policies and actions. Nonetheless, U.S. nuclear policy does influence U.S. international reputation and soft power, which matter immensely for successful multilateral and proactive engagement on other pressing global issues.