Future Roles for Nuclear Arms: Weapons, Symbols, or Anachronism
NATIONAL WAR COLL WASHINGTON DC
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Until the United States used atomic bombs to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the possibility of creating such a super-weapon was known only to a small number of physicists and military officials. Reactions to the new super-weapon were split. Immediately after the War efforts were made to turn back the clock and eliminate nuclear weapons. At the same time, additional countries began working to develop their own. For the next two decades nuclear weapons remained a central element of war-fighting between the great powers. During the 1970s a gradual transition began, driven partly by the strategic deterrence doctrine of the day, and partly by trends in public opinion in the United States and abroad. By 1980, if not earlier, nuclear weapons were generally perceived to be essential to international peace but essentially unusable in war. The fact that the United States and the Soviet Union each possessed sufficient weapons of sufficient invulnerability to guarantee a devastating second strike on the other was understood to be the guarantor of peace between the superpowers albeit not necessarily between their surrogates. However, nuclear weapons were widely perceived to be unusable against smaller powers, none of which was perceived to pose a truly strategic threat to either superpower. Nuclear weapons had become symbols of status as a global power, but their utility in war was except for global war among the superpowers questionable.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Nuclear Weapons