By Philip Bobbitt

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Extra resources for Democracy and Deterrence: The History and Future of Nuclear Strategy

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This commitment to respond to every encroachment or threat was 'containment'. But the Truman administration had never devised a strategy for deriving coercive political results from simply the threat posed by the American nuclear arsenal; its strategy was responsive only. Certainly that administration was at no point willing deliberately and publicly to threaten the use of nuclear weapons. 14 The incoming Eisenhower administration, however, faced an imperative its predecessor had been able to avoid.

Even assuming American air superiority, an intolerable level of destruction would result from an attack by only a small fraction of the Soviet force. In light of the cost-effectiveness of this weapon, and the relative abundance of the resources needed to produce it, Brodie predicted that the American monopoly of atomic fission could not be expected to last more than five to ten years. Having established that both superpowers were likely to possess a weapon against which there was no defence, Brodie assayed the means to manage this mutuality.

The presumption is that a future war could well be a complicated affair, in which one particular engagement would not necessarily be decisive. In fact, because it is expected that both sides would make every effort to protect their strategic forces, they would not necessarily appear as attractive targets at all. Thus the objective is not a disarming first strike but objectives geared to a type of conflict which excluded the mutual destruction of cities. 9 Eisenhower was scarcely sympathetic to this analysis.

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