Thinking about Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects

By Michael Quinlan | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 1

The following essay appeared in the UK government’s Statement on the
Defence Estimates 1981 (Cmnd. 8212-I, pp. 13–14)


Nuclear Weapons and Preventing War

Nuclear weapons have transformed our view of war. Though they have been used only twice, half a lifetime ago, the terrible experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be always in our minds. But the scale of that horror makes it all the more necessary that revulsion be partnered by clear thinking. If it is not, we may find ourselves having to learn again, in the appalling school of practical experience, that abhorrence of war is no substitute for realistic plans to prevent it.

There can be opposing views about whether the world would be safer and more peaceful if nuclear weapons had never been invented. But that is academic; they cannot be disinvented. Our task now is to devise a system for living in peace and freedom while ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used, either to destroy or to blackmail.

Nuclear weapons are the dominant aspect of modern war potential. But they are not the only aspect we should fear. Save at the very end, World War II was fought entirely with what are comfortably called ‘conventional’ weapons, yet during its six years something like fifty million people were killed. Since 1945 ‘conventional’ war has killed up to ten million more. The ‘conventional’ weapons with which any East–West war would be fought today are much more powerful than those of 1939–45; and chemical weapons are far more lethal than when they were last used widely, over sixty years ago. Action about nuclear weapons which left, or seemed to leave, the field free for non-nuclear war could be calamitous.

Moreover, whatever promises might have been given in peace, no alliance possessing nuclear weapons could be counted on to accept major nonnuclear defeat and conquest without using its nuclear power. Non-nuclear war between East and West is by far the likeliest road to nuclear war.

We must therefore seek to prevent any war, not just nuclear war, between East and West. And the part nuclear weapons have to play in this is made

-181-

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Thinking about Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword x
  • Preface xii
  • Abbreviations xx
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Significance of Nuclear Weapons 3
  • 1 - The Nuclear Revolution 5
  • 2 - The Tools of Thinking 13
  • 3 - Deterrence 20
  • 4 - Nuclear Deterrence in NATO 33
  • 5 - The Ethics of Nuclear Weapons 46
  • Part II - Managing Nuclear Weapons 57
  • 6 - Risks 59
  • 7 - Proliferation 76
  • 8 - Arms Racing, Costs, and Arms Control 88
  • 9 - Easements and Escape Routes 99
  • Part III - National Nuclear-Weapon Postures and Policies- Britain, India, Pakistan 113
  • 10 - United Kingdom Doctrine and Policy 115
  • 11 - Nuclear Weapons in South Asia 133
  • Part IV - The Path Ahead 151
  • 12 - The Abolition of Nuclear Armouries? 153
  • 13 - The Practical Agenda 166
  • Appendix 1 181
  • Appendix 2 184
  • Index 190
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