Academic journal article Military Review

Britain's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: From before the V-Bomber to beyond Trident

Academic journal article Military Review

Britain's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: From before the V-Bomber to beyond Trident

Article excerpt

BRITAIN'S STRATEGIC NUCLEAR DETERRENT: From Before the V-Bomber to Beyond Trident by Robert H. Paterson. 194 pages. Frank Cass and Co., Portland OR. 1997. $45.00.

In Britain's Strategic Nuclear Deterrent, Robert H. Paterson provides a useful precis to understanding the strategic decision making of the United States' closest ally-Britain. Tracing historical features that shaped Britain's entry into the nuclear club, Paterson deftly assembles the components of London's strategic calculus over the intervening decades. He illustrates how these features emerged within the Anglo-American context and offers a provocative projection of future decisions within an evolving post-Cold War paradigm.

Central to Paterson's thesis is Britain's special relationship with the United States. Eschewing any pretense of autonomy in Britain's strategic-deterrence development, Paterson accurately depicts the interdependent (and frequently dependent) nature of Britain's nuclear programs.

Linking Britain's detonation of an independently developed nuclear device in 1952 to global perceptions of its continued great power status, Paterson follows with an excellent resume of British strategic programmatics. He excels in tracing Britain's early nuclear-delivery programs as improving Soviet and US capabilities eclipsed them. Succinctly reviewing France's nuclear program, Paterson constructively contrasts the French experience, insightfully observing that, thanks to its trans-Atlantic partner, Britain's nuclear deterrent was acquired far cheaper than that of France. …

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