The Second Nuclear Age

The Second Nuclear Age

The Second Nuclear Age

The Second Nuclear Age


The author takes issue with the complacent belief that a happy mixture of deterrence, arms control and luck will enable humanity to cope adequately with weapons of mass destruction, arguing that the risks are ever more serious.


Foreword Keith B. Payne

The Second Nuclear Age is the most recent of Colin Gray's already prodigious roster of published works. His writings, now familiar in expert defense circles from Washington to Tokyo and all stops in between, span more than two and a half decades. In toto, they earn him the status of one of the West's preeminent civilian strategists. Whenever Professor Gray pens a new title, expectations are high and note must be taken; when that title proclaims the arrival of a “new nuclear age, ” particular attention is warranted.

The analytic goals identified for The Second Nuclear Age are not modest. They are, first, to understand the strategic threats posed by nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in a dramatically unfamiliar international political context (until now described only by what it is not, i.e., the “post–Cold War period”); and, second, to identify those measures most useful to the West in addressing those threats, including discerning what is and is not worth retaining from Cold War security policies. The enormity of this analytic task is daunting, calling for Gray's obvious mastery of military history, Cold War strategic policies both East and West, the direction of current threats and policies, and a keen insight as to the significance of emerging features of international politics.

Gray's starting point is to observe that Cold War thinking and policy concerning nuclear weapons were shaped decisively by the context of East-West enmity and competition. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, that context was so altered as to call into question established wisdom and policy involving nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the security age now dawning remains dominated by the existence of nuclear weapons (with biological weapons emerging as a particularly salient factor). In . . .

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