Panofsky, Wolfgang K.H.
October 1973
Foreign Affairs;Oct73, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p109
This article deals with the hostage relationship between the Soviet Union and the U.S. regarding their strategic nuclear armaments. The critics seem to imply that the mutual-hostage relationship between the populations of the U.S. and the Soviet Union is a consequence of policy, and would therefore be subject to change if such a policy were modified. Yet this relationship is a matter of physical fact and is thus grossly insensitive to any change in strategic policy. Any successful attempt to project an image--however ill-founded of a clean nuclear war generating minimum civilian casualties could make the use of nuclear weapons in limited conflicts more acceptable. The fact remains--irrespective of the extent to which the strategies of either country include plans for deliberate retaliation against the opponent's population--that the peoples of both countries are in jeopardy in any kind of nuclear conflict. Once the technical nature of the forces is restricted, making them unsuitable for an effective first strike against the other side's strategic weapons, then certain types of counterforce responses to an enemy attack should not longer be considered real options. On the positive side, there is increasing pressure for more layers of safety devices, better communications etc. Moreover, there may also be hope that Permissive Action Links--devices which by mechanical means prevent one military echelon from executing a strike without permission from a higher level--may be used for strategic as well as tactical nuclear-weapons systems.


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