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

By Roger Hilsman | Go to book overview

idea was to base the MX in silos very close together in a remote area. If the Soviets attacked, the first of their own missiles to arrive would blow up or deflect the rest of those coming in, and so enough MX missiles would presumably survive to be able to launch a devastating retaliatory blow. But this idea, too, seemed flawed. Without a test, no one could be sure whether or not enough MXs would survive to constitute an adequate deterrent.

In the end, the Reagan administration asked Congress for one hundred MX missiles to be based in refurbished Minuteman silos. In 1982, Congress finally authorized only fifty, and specifically said that the reason for cutting the request in half was the MX's vulnerability in fixed silos.

The first ten MX missiles were deployed in refurbished Minuteman silos at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming and became operational in December 1986. The rest were to be deployed by the end of 1988. Thus, by 1988 Warren Air Force Base had fifty MX missiles each with ten warheads, and 160 of the old Minuteman missiles, each with three warheads.

At the same time that the first MX missiles were deployed, the Reagan administration asked Congress for another fifty, to be based on railroad cars, but not in the "racecourse" design. Two of the MX missiles would be placed on each of twenty-five trains. The trains would be shuttled around inside military reservations until time of crisis, when they would be deployed over the entire United States railway system.

With the MX and the Soviet equivalent deployed, the world entered a period when one missile launched in a surprise first strike could aim two warheads at each of five land-based missiles in fixed silos of the victim's retaliatory, secondstrike force so accurately that little hope remained that any of the missiles being attacked could survive no matter how much they were hardened. If the only effective deterrent was a secure, second-strike force, then that force would have to consist of submarine-based missiles, airborne missiles, mobile land-based missiles, or bombers with very advanced technology for getting through the enemy's radar and air defenses.

Suppose the United States came to rely not on submarine-based and mobile land missiles like Midgetman but mainly on the MX based in the old Minuteman silos, where they were both very vulnerable and very tempting, even provocative targets. Suppose also that the Soviets continued to rely for their main missile force on land-based missiles in fixed silos. The result would be that both sides would have to consider a strategy of launch on warning. If so, the United States and the Soviet Union would be like two old-time Western gunfighters in a saloon -- each eyeing the other suspiciously and tensed to draw the instant the other showed any sign of making a move, even to scratch his nose.


NOTES
1
See the various works on the subject by Bernard Brodie, Thomas Schelling, George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, William Kaufmann, Warner Schilling, Herman Kahn, George

-103-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xiv
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Part I - The First Attempts at Nuclear Strategy 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Manhattan Project and Early Strategic Thinking 3
  • Notes 14
  • Chapter 2 - Nuclear Strategy and the Attack on Korea 16
  • Notes 27
  • Chapter 3 - New Look, Massive Retaliation, and Flexible Response 28
  • Notes 39
  • Chapter 4 - The H-Bomb and the Balance of Terror 40
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 5 - The Debate on Nuclear Strategy 49
  • Notes 55
  • Part II - The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Case Study of Nuclear Strategy 57
  • Chpter 6 - The Crisis 59
  • Notes 70
  • Chapter 7 - The Significance 71
  • Note 77
  • Chapter 8 - McNamara II, the Schlesinger Doctrine, and Star Wars 81
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter 9 - No First Use, Counterforce, and Mad as a Strategy 95
  • Notes 103
  • Chapter 10 - The Breakup of the Soviet Union and the Bush -- Yeltsin Agreement 105
  • Notes 113
  • Part IV - The World Turned Upside Down 115
  • A Chapter 11 - Developments in Weapons 117
  • Notes 122
  • Chapter 12 - The Members of the Nuclear Club and Their Arms 123
  • Notes 138
  • Chapter 13 - Soviet, Chinese, and European Nuclear Strategy 139
  • Notes 147
  • Chapter 14 - Armageddon: Six Scenarios of Nuclear War 148
  • Notes 163
  • Part V - Arms Control and Disarmament 165
  • Chapter 15 - The History of Arms Control 167
  • Notes 179
  • Chapter 16 - The Prospects for Arms Control 180
  • Notes 186
  • Part VI - Why War? 187
  • Chapter 17 - The Social and Political Functions of War 189
  • Chapter 18 - Nationalism 198
  • Notes 210
  • Chapter 19 - A World Political Process Without World Government? 211
  • Notes 225
  • Chapter 20 - A Curious Creature 227
  • Notes 230
  • Part VII - Conclusions 231
  • Chapter 21 - A Long-Term Solution, a Medium-Term Compromise, and a Short-Term Stopgap 233
  • Chapter 22 - The Lessons of the "Small Wars" Since World War II 238
  • Notes 256
  • Chapter 23 - Humanitarian and Peacekeeping Forces 259
  • Notes 274
  • Chapter 24 - Conventional Forces for the Medium-Term Compromise 278
  • Notes 290
  • Chapter 25 - Nuclear Forces for the Short- Term Stopgap 291
  • Notes 304
  • Index 305
  • About the Author *
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