Nuclear Strategy and World Order

The current U.S. nuclear strategy goes beyond the legitimate objective of survivable strategic forces to active preparation for nuclear war.

Nuclear Strategy and World Order

Nuclear Strategy and World Order

The current U.S. nuclear strategy goes beyond the legitimate objective of survivable strategic forces to active preparation for nuclear war. The Reagan administration strategy rejects minimum deterrence and prepares for a nuclear war that might be protracted and controlled. The strategy reflects the understanding that a combination of counterforce targeting, crises location of urban populations, and ballistic missile defense could make nuclear war purposeful and tolerable. The strategy includes five unwarranted assumptions: (1) the Soviets might decide to launch a limited first strike on the United States or its allies; (2) the USSR is more likely to be deterred by the threat of limited U.S. counterforce reprisals than by the threat of overwhelming, total nuclear retaliation; (3) victory is possible in a superpower nuclear war; (4) a counterforce nuclear strategy can be undertaken without compromising the prospects of vertical and horizontal arms control; and (5) peace can be maintained indefinitely via nuclear deterrence. According to the author, Reagan administration strategy must be reversed, and an alternative strategy should be pursued. The United States needs to seek a comprehensive test ban, renounce the first use of nuclear weapons, and institute additional weapon free zones. (Author/NE)

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