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Strategy in the New Era of Tactical Nuclear Weapons

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Journal Article - Open Access

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U.S. Army Washington United States

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PostCold War strategic discourse, primarily among Russian strategists, has challenged the precept that nuclear weapons are not useful toolsof warfare or statecraft. To reduce the likelihood that such ideas will ever be tested in practice, the US must openly address hard-case scenarios and develop a coherent strategy sufficient to give adversaries pause. This article posits that the key to successfully deterring the use of tactical nuclear weapons lies not in winning an arms race but in the clear articulation of a purpose and intent that directs all aspects of US policy toward the prevention of nuclear war and leaves no exploitable openings for opportunistic challengers. Further, an ideal strategy would be crafted to reducenot increasethe salience of nuclear weapons in geopolitics. The article considers three possible approaches to a strategy for tactical nuclear weapons,but the most desirable and effective will be a strategy of non-use based upon credible and well-prepared alternatives to a nuclear response.

Subject Categories:

  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Government and Political Science

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