For NSC-68, nuclear strategic policy was a continuation of the ideas of strategic bombing.1 Despite rather confident claims by the Air Force,2 however, this continuity caused concern in some observers. In 1949, the Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, commissioned the Harmon Committee to evaluate US plans for an atomic campaign against the Soviet Union. The Committee estimated that the projected attack on seventy Soviet cities would result in a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in Soviet industrial capacity and perhaps 2.7 million fatalities and 4 million casualties. Even such staggering industrial losses, however, ‘would not be permanent and could be alleviated by Soviet recuperative action depending on the weighted effectiveness of follow-up attacks.’ Furthermore, ‘the capability of Soviet armed forces to advance rapidly into selected areas of Western Europe, the Middle East and the Far East would not be seriously impaired’. The Committee concluded that planned air attacks alone would not ‘destroy the roots of Communism, or critically weaken the power of Soviet leadership to dominate the people’.3 A strategic air offensive against urban industrial targets could not promise ‘victory’ no matter how that crucial word might be defined.
KeywordsEurope Explosive Expense Defend Monopoly
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Notes and References
- 2.R. F. Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine: A History of Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force 1907–1964, 2 (Maxwell Air Force Base: Aerospace Studies Institute, June 1971), 551Google Scholar
- 2.Aaron Friedberg, ‘A History of the U.S. Strategic “Doctrine” — 1945–1980,’ The Journal of Strategic Studies, 3 (December 1980), pp. 40–1.Google Scholar
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- 6.Jacob Viner, ‘The Implications of The Atomic Bomb for International Relations,’ Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 90 (January 1946), pp. 53–4.Google Scholar
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- 28.K. Ward, ‘Evolution of US Strategic Targeting Doctrine’ (Oxford University, M.Phil. thesis 1981).Google Scholar
- 29.Albert Wohlstetter, ‘Is There a Strategic Arms Race?’ Foreign Policy 15 (Summer 1974), p. 5; see also ‘Rivals But No Race,’ Foreign Policy 16 (Fall 1974), pp. 60–1, by the same author.Google Scholar