Conventional wisdom states that the stability-instability paradox does not explain the effect of nuclear proliferation on the conflict propensity of South Asia and that nuclear weapons have had a different and more dangerous impact in South Asia than Cold War Europe. I argue that the paradox explains nuclear South Asia, that the similarities between nuclear South Asia and Cold War Europe are strong, and that conventional instability does not cause revisionist challenges in the long run. I develop and probe a psychological causal mechanism that explains the impact of nuclear weapons on Cold War Europe and South Asia. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf may have adopted more moderate foreign policy towards India after experiencing fear of imminent nuclear war during the ten month mobilised crisis in 2002 as Nikita Khrushchev did forty years earlier. I argue that the stability-instability paradox explains Cold War Europe and nuclear South Asia and will, conditional on Iranian and North Korean revisionism, predict the impact of nuclear weapons development on these states’ conflict propensities.
Nonproliferation Review, 2013, Vol 20, Issue 3, p. 433-451