cially if they had any reason at all to suspect that the president was not sane. And
there is no reason to suppose that the Russian military is any different in this
respect from the American.
But nuclear war can also come in a world in which destruction is both mutual
and assured even if the leaders of both sides are perfectly sane. Consider a crisis
that neither side sought but resulted from events that spiraled out of control -- a Cuban missile crisis that got out of hand. A series of miscalculations might convince one side or the other that its choice was between being destroyed by the
other's first strike or striking first in a preemptive blow, a choice that was seen as
being between utter, total destruction on the one hand and, on the other, horrendous casualties but enough survivors to constitute a viable nation and society.
And nuclear war can even more easily come in the midst of a crisis because of
a series of mistakes and miscalculations on one side and then the other, as the Cuban missile crisis so vividly demonstrated. One move can logically lead to
another until both sides suddenly find themselves in the midst of a war. At the
outbreak of World War I, the former German chancellor Prince Bernard Von
Bülow is supposed to have said to his successor, "How did it all happen?" The
reply was, "Ah, if we only knew!"
Mutual assured destruction is a powerful deterrent, in other words, but it is
not a guarantee. In a MAD world, nuclear war may come later rather than sooner,
but if humankind can do no better than mutual assured destruction to deter
nuclear war then sooner or later nuclear war will surely come.
The Israeli nuclear weapons program and the Iraqi program are discussed in Chapter 12.
R. Ernest Dupuy and
Trevor Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military History ( New
York: Harper & Row, 1970), 990, 1, 198.
Gerhard L. Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II ( Cambridge University Press, 1994).
McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty
Years ( New York: Random House, 1988), viii.
The following is drawn from John F. Sopko, "The Changing Proliferation Threat", Foreign Policy 105 (Winter 1996- 1997): 3-20.
Richard K. Betts, in "The New Threat of Mass Destruction", Foreign Affairs ( January-February 1998): 26 ff, argues that while the threat of nuclear war has receded that of
chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction has increased. A vial of anthrax
dispersed over Washington, D.C., he believes, could kill as many as 3 million people.
Since traditional deterrence will not stop a disgruntled group from striking at America,
he concludes that the United States must pull back from excessive foreign involvements
and begin a program of civil defense to protect against such weapons.
Theodore H. White, Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon ( New York: Athenaeum, 1975), 22-23; personal interviews.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: From Nuclear Military Strategy to a World without War:A History and a Proposal.
Contributors: Roger Hilsman - Author.
Publisher: Praeger Publishers.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1999.
Page number: 163.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.