The Nuclear Threat as an Instrument of National Policy.
Military issues research memo.,
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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This paper analyzes the impact of nuclear armaments on US national and military policy since World War II. The immediate post-World War II years are reviewed with the conclusion that the threat of the atomic bomb was of little value for specific application during this period of US nuclear monopoly. The era of US superiority during the 1950s is assessed, including the nuclear threat during the Korean conflict, the concept of massive retaliation, and the 1956 Suez crisis. Evidence supporting the efficacy of the nuclear threat remains inconclusive. In the 1960s, with the move to parity, the issues become more sophisticated. The Cuban Missile Crisis provided a theater for nuclear threats but Cubas proximity to the United States gave conventional military power the major role. Because of the threat of escalation of a conflict to mutual annihilation, the United States and the Soviet Union tend to avoid direct political or military confrontation thus the nuclear threat appears to have great utility in deterring conflict but less value in deterring initial aggression. In the present and future, it becomes necessary to balance desires for meaningful limitations on strategic nuclear weapons against the possibility that reduced levels may make general war more acceptable. The nuclear threat, as posed by both superpowers, has utility as an instrument of national policy but not when employed as an act of desperation.
- Humanities and History
- Nuclear Warfare