Beyond Nuclear Thinking

Beyond Nuclear Thinking

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Beyond Nuclear Thinking
    Book Description:

    Most of what is written on nuclear weapons concentrates, understandably, on the here and now: the nuclear threat is a central and continuing fact of modern history . But this is intellectually constricting, both for understanding the nuclear age and for making thoughtful political judgments. It is essential to recognize what we have inherited since 1945 and why people have thought about nuclear weapons in the way they have. In Beyond Nuclear Thinking, Robert Malcolmson analyses the development of nuclear weapons and nuclear strategy since 1945, connecting the legacies of the past with the politics of the 1990s.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6263-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER ONE “The Great Deterrent”
    (pp. 3-27)

    In 1957, a marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir John Slessor, published a collection of his essays and lectures under the title,The Great Deterrent.These words were apt and entirely in accord with the conventional Anglo-American thinking of the early and mid-1950s. For they drew attention to a fundamental premise of Western politico-military policy: nuclear weaponry had become critically important, in the opinion of its non-communist possessors, to the pursuit of peace and security. The bomb (first, fission; later, fusion) was seen as the crucial counterweight to the aggressive instincts of world communism. It was first and foremost...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Standing Tall (But Naked)
    (pp. 28-51)

    In January 1953, as presidential power in Washington was changing hands, a study entitled “Armaments and American Policy” was submitted to the secretary of state. This report, which was prepared by a small committee of consultants chaired by J. Robert Oppenheimer, pointed to the emerging vulnerability of the United States to atomic attack and the inadequate public appreciation of this new fact of life. As these experts put it: “both the public and the responsible military authorities appear to be persuaded that the important characteristic of the atomic bomb is that it can be used against the Soviet Union; much...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Make-Believe
    (pp. 52-84)

    The catchy but very different titles of two books of essays on American foreign policy published only four years apart provide a political barometer of changing American sentiments on world affairs during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first volume, published in 1979, was entitledEagle Entangled: United States Foreign Policy in a Complex World.The second, which appeared in 1983 and dealt with United States foreign policy in the 1980s, was entitledEagle Defiant.² At the end of the 1970s many Americans were frustrated, often angry, and sometimes humiliated about their nation’s apparent fall from international grace; they...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Peace through Fear
    (pp. 85-114)

    One of the wisest judgments made about nuclear weapons came early in the Cold War. In the winter of 1949–50 when George Kennan was about to resign his position in the State Department, he raised, in a trenchant manner, the question of the role of nuclear weapons in American security policy. There was, he said, one crucial question: “Are we to rely upon weapons of mass destruction as an integral and vitally important component of our military strength, which we would expect to employ deliberately, immediately, and unhesitatingly in the event that we become involved in a military conflict...

  8. Epilogue
    (pp. 115-118)

    On 21 February 1944, Marie Vassiltchikov, a young woman of White Russian descent living in Berlin, a city whose inhabitants had been under siege for several months from waves of allied bombers, attended a movie and recorded her feelings in her diary. “This evening we sawOchsenkrieg[War of Oxen], a film about war in the Middle Ages. It was particularly restful to see people whacking away at one another with wooden clubs. After five or six hours’ fighting the battlefield was strewn with seven bodies!”¹ While systematic violence was nothing new, the tools of violence certainly were. What was...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 119-138)
  10. Index
    (pp. 139-141)