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Strategic Deterrence Thirty Years Later: What has Changed?

  • Mcgeorge Bundy
Part of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Conference Papers book series (IISSCP)

Abstract

The first, and perhaps the most important, question about nuclear weapons is whether, or to what degree, they are truly different from others. There was not much doubt on this point in July 1945 at Alamogordo, and the reactions of statesmen and soldiers to the first private reports of that event show that one did not have to be present to be impressed. It was Churchill who called it ‘the Second Coming in Wrath’ and MacArthur who said, ‘This will completely change all our ideas of warfare.’ We have even earlier evidence, from those who worked on Tube Alloys in Britain and on the ‘Manhattan’ Project in the United States, that the special character of the prospective bomb was a crucial element in their extraordinary performance. Going even further back, we meet the powerful mixture of fear, hope and intense concern with which the small world of those who understood its meaning reacted to the discovery of fission by Hahn and Strassman in 1938.

Keywords

Nuclear Weapon Strategic Capability American Guarantee Military Target Deterrent Power 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959), p. 391.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Colin S. Gray, ‘A Case for a Theory of Victory’, International Security, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 1979 ), pp. 54–87.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Raymond Aron, The Century of Total War (New York: Doubleday, 1954), ch. 8.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Margaret Gowing, Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy 1939–1945 (London: Macmillan 1964), p. 168.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Raymond Aron, Paix et Guerre entre les Nations, 4th edn (Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1966), p. 7 (my translation).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Carl Kaysen, ‘Keeping the Strategic Balance’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 46, No. 4 (July 1968), p. 672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 11.
    A. W. DePorte, Europe between the Superpowers (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Michael Howard, The Relevance of Traditional Strategy’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2 (January 1973), p. 262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mcgeorge Bundy

There are no affiliations available

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