Strategy and Survival

  • Gerald Segal


If politics is the art of the possible, then nuclear strategy is the art of the impossible. The word ‘art’ is appropriate because nuclear strategy is more concerned with the intangibles of politics, psychology, personality and perception. It is true that there is much science in nuclear weapons, in their design, development and deployment, but no strategy for their use could be subject to neat theories. Nuclear strategy is the art of the ‘impossible’ because in the final analysis nuclear weapons are too horrific for their use to be contemplated in a rational calculation of possibilities. Now that we are perched on this moral high ground, some might say that the discussion must end. Since you cannot use nuclear weapons, then it is a waste of time to discuss any strategy except the one of how to achieve rapid disarmament. Alas, the world of moral and intellectual purity is rarely the world of politics. Because nuclear weapons exist, and because there is an enemy against whom defence is perceived to be necessary, the art of nuclear strategy needs to be explored further.


Nuclear Weapon Nuclear Force Civil Defence Cruise Missile Soviet Power 
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Copyright information

© Gerald Segal, Edwina Moreton, Lawrence Freedman, John Baylis 1983

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  • Gerald Segal

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