The Rise and Fall of Nuclearism: Fear and Faith as Determinants of the Arms Race

By Sheldon Ungar | Go to book overview

8
Nuclear Forgetting versus Totalitarian Omnipotence

A sign on the door of a conference room in the State Department read: "In a Nuclear Age, Nations Must Make War Like Porcupines Make Love--Carefully."1 The sign was not sufficiently radical. In the course of the missile crisis, the leaders of both sides discovered that they could not make war at all. The crisis had revealed that the superpowers were, in a metaphor suggested by Oppenheimer, like two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other but only at the risk of its own life. Atomic weapons had "spoiled" war, a conclusion recognized in the first book on nuclear strategy, The Absolute Weapon, published in 1946 when only the A-bomb, in very limited numbers, existed. According to Frederick Dunn: "In fact to speak of it as just another weapon was highly misleading. It was a revolutionary development which altered the basic character of war itself."2

____________________
1
Cited in Detzer ( 1979, 131).
2
Dunn ( 1946, 4).

-135-

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The Rise and Fall of Nuclearism: Fear and Faith as Determinants of the Arms Race
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - God, Progress, and the Great Collapse 11
  • 2 - The Drama of Omnipotence 25
  • 3 - The Testing and Display of Indispensable Power 43
  • 4 - Managing the Confounding Power 57
  • 5 - The Soviet Atomic Bomb- Korean War Panic 77
  • 6 - Sputnik and the Challenge to America's Destiny 105
  • 7 - The Cuban Missile Crisis 123
  • 8 - Nuclear Forgetting Versus Totalitarian Omnipotence 135
  • 9 - First Strikes and the Window-Of- Vulnerability Panic 157
  • Conclusion 177
  • References 191
  • Index 207
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