The Munich Blunder
Much of the revolution in thinking about war now associated in our minds with the invention of the atomic bomb actually took shape in the years during and immediately following World War I. The unprecedented carnage of 1914 to 1918 strengthened the conviction in many hearts that war had ceased to be effective "as an instrument of national policy."1 In the 1920s and 1930s, it became commonplace to speak of the next war as threatening an end to civilization. The new technology of destruction--machine gun, tank, airplane, poison gas--promised unimaginable horrors should the calamity of world war be repeated. Air power, in particular--described in a manner closely resembling the way in which we now speak of nuclear weapons--was contemplated with growing apprehension. In the next war, it was predicted, bombers would quickly reduce whole cities to rubble; tens of thousands of civilians would perish from aerial gas attacks in a single day. "In war," affirmed British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the late 1930s, echoing the prevailing views of his contemporaries, "them are no winners."2
World War I was widely thought to have discredited not merely a particular set of policies but the traditional approach to foreign policy. It was viewed as an indictment not simply of this or that government or foreign office but of the balance of power itself. To prevent another such catastrophe--a cataclysm that promised to be many times worse than the one just concluded--it would be necessary to reconstruct diplomacy on an entirely new foundation. The traditional mechanisms and expedients
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Publication information: Book title: Closing Pandora's Box:Arms Races, Arms Control, and the History of the Cold War. Contributors: Patrick Glynn - Author. Publisher: Basic Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 45.
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