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The arrangements under which this responsibility is shared
cannot compromise the United States' sovereign right, or the right
of any other nuclear state, to determine whether and how its
nuclear weapons might be used. At the same time, effective sharing
of the responsibility for the outcome of any confrontation risking
use of WMD requires the United States to take its partners'
interests and political needs seriously in implementing extended
nuclear deterrence. The United States has faced the challenge of
balancing these two considerations for decades, as part of the
extended nuclear deterrence strategy for NATO. There, although the
United States has the final say over any use of its weapons, allied
groups provide political and military inputs for planning in
peacetime and, time permitting, consult on possible nuclear weapons
use in wartime.
This is not meant to suggest that the United States should
attempt to form standing alliances to contain the aggression of
regional states that seek WMD. As argued above, the political
support for creating new alliances does not exist. Still, it is
important that preparations for what might be called "collective
deterrence" of WMD-backed regional challenges keep pace with the
development of such threats. Such preparations can help let
prospective regional proliferators know that WMD would be of little
use in underwriting aggression, but that obtaining it could
polarize the international community against them.