From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal

By Roger Hilsman | Go to book overview
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Preface

The debate about how peace might be maintained in an age of missiles armed with nuclear warheads has revolved mainly around four approaches. All of these approaches will be analyzed in detail in the chapters that follow, but a brief description is necessary here.

One is the traditional military approach. Its emphasis is on deterrence -- epitomized by the aphorism, "If you would maintain peace, prepare for war." But many of its advocates also believe that if deterrence fails, it will be possible to win a nuclear war. What is required, they argue, is a large stockpile of the very best weapons and a strategy that aims at destroying the enemy's capacity to inflict damage on one's own forces, economy, and people, or at least to minimize that damage.

Of recent presidents, the only one who came out strongly in public for the military approach was George Herbert Walker Bush, in a statement made when he was vice president. When he was asked, "How do you win in a nuclear exchange?" Bush's answer was, "You have a survivability of command and control, survivability of industrial potential, protection of a percentage of your citizens, and you have a capability that inflicts more damage on the opposition than it can inflict upon you. That's the way you can have a winner." 1

A second approach is the Strategic Defense Initiative advocated by President Reagan and nicknamed "Star Wars." Reagan's hope was that Western technology could build a shield in outer space that would destroy incoming missiles in mid-flight.

A third approach is the so-called "no first use." In 1982, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy, George Kennan, and Gerard Smith jointly proposed that the United States should deny itself the option of being the first to use nuclear weapons. However, this renunciation would be coupled with an increase in conven

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From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War: A History and a Proposal
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