Date of Graduation

Spring 2020


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John Rose


American upheaval over the Chinese technologically advanced strategic threat permeates throughout the government and political culture. The response to this fear is a somewhat nascent reactive U.S. policy toward China as it relates to strategic weapon systems. The U.S. currently is responding by attempting to revitalize an aging nuclear architecture, and re-prioritize strategic weapons in U.S. defense spending. However, U.S. policy must move beyond justifying nuclear weapons and requesting increased funding. What is necessary for this balance beyond an arms race is the intellectual prescription for the calculated employment or fielding of those arms.

Ultimately, this paper suggests the U.S. develop a Chinese facing strategic weapons policy consisting of a phased approach of temporal periods with associated polices, technological pursuits, and arms control implications - similar to those posited in the early stages of the Cold War. This paper assessed formal U.S. policy documents, de-classified documents, and federal intelligence reports and testimonies to understand more completely nuclear/strategic weapon force postures. The research canvassed publications from well-known Western think tanks, diplomats, and officials; as well as comparable non-Western, primarily Asian sources for a more complete analysis of culture, economy, and policy. The paper concludes that Chinese nuclear force posture and economic dynamics provide a window for the United States to prepare its own strategic forces and policy to better address the growing threat. This type of complex strategic analysis proved critical to responsive nuclear force postures in the Cold War. An assessment of Chinese strategic culture provided insight into how to produce an effective and dynamic U.S. nuclear policy. Lastly, a sample time-bound force development road map depicts the utility and applicability of such a model, while making some key recommendations for future policy.


Chinese nuclear posture, U.S. nuclear policy, nuclear strategy, Chinese strategic culture, strategic periods, Cold War and current policy, Chinese economic challenges, U.S.-China rivalry, arms race, great power competition

Subject Categories

Comparative Politics | Growth and Development | International Relations


© Christopher Keith Giuliano

Open Access