During the Cold War, NATO planners assumed that early use of nuclear weapons would be authorized to respond to a major Soviet attack. NATO strategy was critically dependent upon that assumption. This paper will briefly describe how that came to be the case, as seen and influenced by officials in Washington. The American perspective is chosen because, notwithstanding the important contributions of other Allies, it was the nuclear weapons supplied by (and ultimately controlled from) Washington that made the strategy possible. American interests thus had special importance in NATO’s strategic debates.
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