Keeny Jr., Spurgeon M.; Panofsky, Wolfgang K. H.
December 1981
Foreign Affairs;Winter81/82, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p287
Academic Journal
This article discusses the nuclear policy of the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Since World War II there has been a continuing debate on military doctrine concerning the actual utility of nuclear weapons in war. This debate, irrespective of the merits of the divergent points of view, tends to create the perception that the outcome and scale of a nuclear conflict could be controlled by the doctrine or the types of nuclear weapons employed. In reality, the unprecedented risks of nuclear conflict are largely independent of doctrine or its application. The principal danger of doctrines that are directed at limiting nuclear conflicts is that they might be believed and form the basis for action without appreciation of the physical facts and uncertainties of nuclear conflict. The failure of policymakers to understand the truly revolutionary nature of nuclear weapons as instruments of war and the staggering size of the nuclear stockpiles of the U.S. and the Soviet Union could have catastrophic consequences for the entire world. Military planners and strategic thinkers for 35 years have sought ways to apply the tremendous power of nuclear weapons against target systems that might contribute to the winning of a future war.


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