such a pledge? A conventional European war would create the greatest risk ever of nuclear war. Any policy, however pious its intent, that makes conventional war more thinkable makes nuclear war more likely.
And that is the fundamental flaw in both this argument and the general attack on deterrence. It examines current policy in the light of some ideal, and finds it wanting. It ignores the fact that rejecting these policies forces the adoption of more dangerous alternatives, and makes more likely the calamities we are trying to avoid. In the end these arguments defeat themselves.
Nuclear weapons are useful only to the extent that they are never used. But they are more likely to fulfill their purpose, and never be used, if one's adversary believes that one indeed has the will to use them' in retaliation for attack. That will to use them is what the moralists find unacceptable. But it is precisely on that will that the structure of deterrence rests. And'it is on the structure of deterrence that rest not only "secondary" values of Western civilization but also the primary value of survival in the nuclear age.