Strategic Decisions and Nuclear Armament

Strategic Decisions and Nuclear Armament

Strategic Decisions

and Nuclear


Nick DiStefano

Ryan Renacci

Kevin Partington

Nuclear Strategies, Doctrines

and Concepts

Nuclear Strategy: military strategy

employed by nuclear weapons states; it


• how many nuclear weapons to deploy and

delivery system to be used;

and what kind of policies to adopt

regarding circumstances for their use.

Aspects of Strategic


‣When should a country decide to get involved?

‣Ongoing concern; When to get out of the race or, the contrary, and

increase spending?

‣Necessity for Popular Support; How a government Gains Approval

To Spend.

STRATEGY of my presentation

‣First Point: A look at History of US spending

‣Investigate historical tactics/strategies of five

countries: Brazil, South Africa, Japan, US and


‣Strategies surrounding the US’s approach to

nuclear armament: Kennan vs. Dulles

‣How a government (specifically regarding the

US Government) gains approval to spend?

Strategies Concerning Other


• From the 1960s to 1990s, Brazil pursued ambitious

program for nuclear energy.

• Brazil has now disavowed nuclear weapons: signed

Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

• Brazil Mines uranium and ships to canada; currently

constructing nuclear power reactor.

• First and only country to construct nuclear weapons and subsequently

to abandon its weapons program voluntarily.

• 1980s-Constructed six gun-type nuclear weapons.

• Less than a decade after its first nuclear weapon, with a diminishing

security threats and a need to shed its pariah status, South africa

decided to dismantle.

• In 1947 constitution, renounces right to use force or threat of force as a

means of international disputes.

• Result, Japan does not have any weapons of mass destruction


• Tokyo is highly active in the international nonproliferation and

disarmament arena.

• July 1945 - US detonates first atomic bomb. US holds

monopoly of atomic bomb. Soviet Union vigorously

pursued development and was successful in 1949.

• In August 1949, USSR detonates first atomic bomb.

From that moment forward, US could not use nuclear

weapons as instrument of offensive warfare.

Backlash of Soviet Bomb

• Truman administration felt publicly weakened

by the soviet bomb.

• In order to compensate for loss of prestige,

Built Hydrogen Bomb.

• This decision, along with the formation of

NATO, creation of an independent Western

Game State and insistence of keeping U.S.

forces in japan was intended to establish a

position of US strength.

George Kennan & John Foster Dulles

• American advisor, diplomaT, political scientist

and historian.

• Known as “the father of containment.”

• U.S. Secretary of State under Dwight D.

Eisenhower (1953-1959)

• Advocated an aggressive stance against


• Pioneers of massive retaliation and brinkmanship.

What Strategy to Pursue?

• “The way to deter aggression is for the

free community to be willing and able to

respond vigorously at places and with

means of its own choosing.” - John Foster


Nuclear Deterrence: Claim that nuclear

weapons are able to deter nuclear or

conventional attack by threatening

disastrous retaliation.

What Strategy to pursue?

• George Kennan, US Ambassador to

USSR advised the following:

– In times of peace the US should engage in

a policy of “minimum deterrence.” The U.S.

should restrict the number of weapons that

it would take to make an attack on this

country a risky, unprofitable and irrational


– In times of war the US should accept a

strategy of “no first use.”

– Which plan of action do you agree with


Concept of Containment

• Strategy first saw its application

in the Truman Doctrine of 1947.

• Summer of 1947, George Kennan

published the “X-Article” and

introduced containment to larger


• Some argued that all post-1945

U.S. foreign policy doctrines and

concepts were in some way

“Strategies of Containment.”


Strategy of Containment; gain for

popular support?

• Definition: policy using military, economic and diplomatic

strategies to temper the spread of communism, enhance

America’s security and influence abroad and prevent a

domino effect.

• In what ways did this fear affect spending?

First Goal: Restoration of the

Balance of Power

• Ultimate goal of U.S. foreign policy should not

be the division of world into soviet and USSR

spheres; rather, US foreign policy should aid in

establishment of independent centers of power

in Europe and Asia.

– Help encourage self-confidence in

nations threatened by Soviet


First Goal: Restoration of the

Balance of Power

• Marshall Plan was the primary

program of the US for rebuilding

and creating a stronger economic

foundation for the countries of

Western Europe

• repelling the threat of internal

communism after WWII.

Second Goal: The Reduction of

Soviet Power Projection

• Suggestion of exploiting tensions between

Moscow and the international communist


• Soviet Union Projected Power toward the

outside by relying on communist governments

subservient to Moscow.

Second Goal: The Reduction of

Soviet Power Projection

• Kennan suggested that it made sense in

supporting Titoism in Yugoslavia without

assuming responsibility.

– Sometimes even to cooperate in communist regimes.

– Because nationalism proves more durable than

Communism, Kennan believed international

communism would break up sooner or later.


• Titoism is an adaptation of communist ideology

named after Josip Tito (leader of the Socialist

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

Third Goal: Modification of the

Soviet Concept of International


• Most ambitious: lead soviet union away from its

notion of international affairs toward a

particularistic understanding of reality.

– Soviet aggression was not aligned with the views of

the Russian people or with economic reality, but with

historic Russian xenophobia and paranoia.

– The soviet government’s structure prevented

objective or accurate pictures of internal and external


Concluding Remarks on

Strategy of Containment

• Strategy of Containment and the idea

of containing Communism was a

powerful tool for maintaining nuclear

arsenal as a defense against the

spread of communism. Fear Tactic?

• The end of the Cold War in 1989

marked the official end of U.S.

containment policy.

• Was the strategy of

containment successful?

Strategy of Deterrence

Deter- to prevent or discourage from acting

•Deterrence Theory- a military strategy developed during the Cold War.

Deterrence is a strategy that involves an

immense retaliation by a government if their

country were to be attacked. Aggressors

would suffer great damage if they were to

avoid listening and inflict aggressive action.

Weapons of mass destruction can be used as

a deterrent.

The Mutually Assured Destruction

(MAD), which was brought about by

the Cold War, is a form of this


Mutual Assured Destruction


•Development of new aircraft allowed the option for the

U.S. and Soviet Union to directly threaten each other

• Brought about by the fact that the Soviet

Union threatened the U.S. through nuclear

arms and the Cold War reached a new

level and became more dangerous than

ever before.

Russian forces achieved nuclear

equality with the U.S. Each side

would be able to destroy the other

many times over.

The whole theory of MAD basically involved the

idea of whoever shoots first, dies second.

Mutual Assured Destruction

• Assumed that if any side was attacked for any

reason, then the other would retaliate with equal or

greater force.

• The expected result would end up in total assured


•A full scale use of nuclear weapons by both sides would ultimately end up

in the destruction of both the threatening nation and the opponent.

•If neither side thought that they would be able to function after a full scale

nuclear exchange, then MAD has done its task at preventing a nuclear war

from occurring.

MAD Applied in Cuban Missile


• The Cuban Missile Crisis (U.S., Cuba

and the Soviet Union, 1962):

The U.S. discovered that the Soviet and

Cuban governments had placed nuclear

weapons near Cuba. When confronted the

Soviets claimed that the missiles were “not

capable of reaching the U.S.” and were

“strictly defensive”.

This crisis led to a close encounter

of an actual nuclear war. MAD/

Nuclear Deterrence was put into


“It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any

nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any

nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack

by the Soviet Union on the United States,

requiring a full retaliatory response upon the

Soviet Union.” -John F. Kennedy

The Only Winning Move Is Not to Play!

The Red Button!!



First Strike

• In nuclear strategy, referred to as a

surprise nuclear attack by one country on


First Strike Capability- the ability for an attacking country to

defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal and

survive the weakened retaliation of the opponent

The MGM-31 Pershing I: contained a W50

nuclear warhead. Prime example for a first

strike weapon as it contained a single

warhead with active radar terminal guidance,

short flight time (approx. 7 min), range of

1,800 km.

The First Strike



Are Weapons of Mass

Destruction able to Deter

• Weapons of mass destruction cannot serve as a


means to rational ends because they stand

against the principle of life itself and cannot serve

as instruments of policy.

The purpose of deterrence is to scare the

opponent out of a certain policy or action.

Nuclear deterrence, which is associated to

Mutual Assured Destruction, is the threat

to end up retaliating with nuclear


The risk from all the threats from

deterrence must be disproportionately

higher than any possible gain for it to

work. For nuclear deterrence to succeed,

the psychological and physical

preconditions must be fulfilled

•Bernard Brodie, a military strategist,

graduate from University of Chicago

and professor at Dartmouth (1941-43),

Yale (1945-51), and UCLA (1966-78) :

“Thus far the chief purpose of our

military establishment has been to win

wars. From now on its chief purpose

must be to avert them” - 1946

This quote expressed Brodie’s idea of

nuclear deterrence- nuclear weapons

should serve the purpose to prevent

their use.

Can Nuclear Deterrence/ MAD


• A threatening nation must be completely

capable to use its nuclear weapons

• Must effectively communicate this to the

nation that is to be deterred.

‣A deterrent force must be capable of

inflicting unacceptable damage.

‣The threatening nation must deny the

opponent to achieve its objectives or charge

the opponent at an excessive price to


‣A nation must also protect its nuclear

arsenal. The opponent must not be able to

eliminate the ability for the threatening

nation to deter. This is called the “second

strike capability”

Second Strike Capability- the

retaliatory force should be protected

from destruction through a first

strike. The threatening nation must

have plans and readiness ready in

order to be capable of delivering its

“message” effectively.

Second Strike Capability

• The idea of a country having the ability

to readily respond to a nuclear attack

with an effective nuclear retaliation of

its own leads to theories such as:

I. A counter of the first strike effect and the ability to support a no first

use strategy.

II. The opposing side being tempted to win the nuclear fight with one

massive first strike.

III. The creation of the mutual assured destruction defense strategy

Second Strike Goal!

• A country must make sure that its nuclear arsenal

remains intact after a first strike to allow for nuclear


Nuclear triads allow reduce the possibility of an

opponent’s first strike destroying an entire nuclear

arsenal because it is an arsenal of three


Nuclear triads help make this goal easier to

manage and it also strengthens the effect of a

second strike and nuclear deterrence because it

provides more of a threat to the enemy.

Nuclear Triad

Heavy aircraft designed to drop

lots of bombs.

Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN).

Limited range but allow a great great

survival if first strike were to occur.

Land based missiles. May be

intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM)

or medium range ballistic missiles


Nuclear Deterrence: A Physical

and Psychological Character

• Physical:

requires a series

of military

instruments that

are so powerful

the enemy won’t

even think of


•Psychological: the actual

willingness to entitle itself

as the threatening nation

through willingness to use

the instruments (nuclear

weapons) against the


Successful deterrence depends upon two points.


2.Willingness- (Communication, Perception)

Can Nuclear War be Won?

• Examples of military

planners that have not

given up the quest for

acquiring nuclear

capability are North Korea,

Iraq, Iran, India, and


Albert Einstein on the issue of

NATO’s nuclear deterrence attempt

against the Soviet Union:

“I know not with what weapons World

War III will be fought, but World War

IV will be fought with sticks and


How does this all play out?

Withdrawn from the nuclear

non-proliferation treaty

(NPT)- North Korea

A few other nuclear

capable countries


South Africa







What if Deterrence Fails?

Nuclear War Remains

• This has major consequences Possibility? to public policy.

• A country might seek a high position in nuclear

superiority over adversaries ------> this could lead

to the fueling of a global arms race!

• Would a disarmed country be exposed to threats

and chaos through another country that does not


• Should we prepare for civil defense and protect

key industries?

• Should we prepare for a nuclear war??

Recap: Why did the U.S. become a


• If anyone needed to contain Soviet Union, the U.S. was

the best candidate

– Britain too economically weak

– Germany was devastated and demilitarized and no longer


– France: Communists had 1/3 of votes

– Italy: Communists had 1/2 of votes

• Europe nonetheless had second highest potential

industrial power; if the Soviets controlled them then U.S.

could not compete

• U.S. emerged from the war with strong economy,

substantial military industry, and monopoly (at that time)

on nuclear weapons

– Thus, politicians in Washington felt the obligation to prevent

the political, economic, and social breakdown in Europe.

• U.S. became a superpower out of perceived necessity

Underlying Philosophies of U.S.

Foreign Policy

• Universalism

– Strive for harmony in

international affairs

– Reduce policy to

parliamentary procedures and

majority decisions in

structures like League of

Nations or United Nations

– Success of this policy

depends on other countries’

willingness to subordinate

their own security

requirements to those of

international community

Underlying Philosophies of U.S.

Foreign Policy

“It is useless for the sheep to

pass resolutions in favor of

vegetarianism while the wolf

remains of a different opinion.”

-- Dean William Inge

• Particularism

– Assumes that

nations seek power

– Force must be met

with counter-force

– Natural response if

universalism isn’t

likely to work

Nixon’s “Madman Theory” and

Corresponding Nuclear Alert

• October 13-25, 1969: Worldwide secret

nuclear alert

– President Nixon and national security

advisor Henry Kissinger: masterminded

series of actions to raise readiness level of

nuclear forces

– Hoped to startle the Soviets into pressing

North Vietnam to meet the U.S. negotiation


– Didn’t work

Nixon’s “Madman Theory” and

Corresponding Nuclear Alert

• Information about the alert came from

documents (declassified 2003)

• Based on a diplomacy-supporting strategem

Nixon called “Madman Theory”

– “the principle of the threat of excessive force”

– Nixon’s power would be enhanced if opponents

feared he would use excessive (i.e., nuclear) force

– Already had a reputation for ruthlessness

– Thus he would appear dangerously unpredictable,

in theory

Nixon’s “Madman Theory” and

Corresponding Nuclear Alert

• Threatening

excessive force is

nothing new

– Nixon certainly favored

it more than most

– But in previous


President Eisenhower,

Sec. of State Dulles,

and then-VP Nixon

used “uncertainty

principle” and

“brinkmanship” overtly

Massive Retaliation

• All-or-nothing strategy

– Show that nuclear war is too costly

– Distinction between victor and loser is


• Strategy for deterrence

– By going right to the edge of war

(brinkmanship) the U.S. might be able to

prevent future Korean conflicts

• Did it work?

Massive Retaliation

– Prevented total provocation

– However, limited challenges could still


• U.S. could not afford to do total provocation


– Examples of limited challenges:

• Korean conflict

• June 17, 1953: Suppressed an anti-Communist

revolt in East Berlin

• Late 1956: Suppressed national uprising in

Massive Retaliation

• Why didn’t it work?

– Lowered U.S. credibility

• Why threaten Soviet

Union with massive

retaliation, given its

growing strategic power?

• Even if U.S. politicians

really meant it, people

outside U.S. wouldn’t

believe it

– Increased vulnerability of


• If Soviet Union felt too

threatened, they might

strike first, to try to

prevent possibility of

massive retaliation

Massive Retaliation

• Why was massive

retaliation such an

attractive strategy?

– Cheap and easy


– Retroactively explain

Korean War

• Korea would never

have happened if the

Communists knew

the U.S. would


Massive Retaliation

• How credible was it?

– Only plausible as long as Soviets could not


– 1957: Soviets have ICBM capabilities

• However, Soviets were vulnerable to delivery systems in

Europe; U.S. did not have that same vulnerability until

Cuban Missile Crisis

• Would the U.S. risk nuclear suicide for its


– If U.S. posture shifted from deterrence to defense,

then Europe might be a battleground

– Scary thought for U.S. allies!

Massive Retaliation

• End of Massive Retaliation

– U.S. has problem of reassuring allies

– Alternative is for them to develop their own

nuclear weapons

• But do we potentially want the Germans to

have nuclear options?

• Given credibility issues and territorial

vulnerability, we need a new strategy

– Massive retaliation is phased out in favor of

flexible response.

The Triad Doctrine

• Results from conceptual differentiation

of flexible response

Strategic triad:


– Submarine-launched Ballistic Missiles


Strategic bombers

• Each should be able to operate


A Comparative Look at the Triad


Weapon Vulnerability Effectiveness Communication


Nuclear attack will

take them out, but

secure from

conventional attacks

Fairly precise

Moderately difficult to

communicate with;

limited control on


SLBMs Very difficult to hit Less precision Hard to communicate


Strategic bombers

Highly vulnerable in

airfields; less

vulnerable if


Highly precise

targeting; pilots are


Pilots are responsive;

Can be recalled or

redirected if needed

1. Brazil, South Africa, and Japan had very different reasons for dismantling or

not being involved with nuclear weapons programs-- and the situations they

were in were very different. What parts of the U.S.' or Soviets' situation

prevented them from doing the same?

2. Earlier it was stated: "Some argued that all post-1945 U.S. foreign policy

doctrines and concepts were in some way 'strategies of containment'". Why

might this have been the case? How well did this strategy work, on the whole?

3. U.S. anti-Communist propaganda seemed to be very powerful during the Cold

War. However, convincing people that Communism is bad is not the same as

convincing people that nuclear weapon stockpiling is good, or even necessary.

How did the government pull it off? (Did they even try?) If nuclear armament

becomes necessary in the near future, what will the government have to do to

marshal support this time around?

4. Earlier it was stated: "The only winning move is not to play". Do you agree with

this statement? Why or why not? (Consider if you lived in a disarmed country next

to one which is nuclear-capable.)

5. The concepts of "first strike" and "second strike" are important in a nuclear

exchange... when there are exactly two parties. Add more and things get a lot more

complicated. Suppose Germany developed the bomb and used it to secure its

freedom somehow without entirely crippling the U.S. and Soviets. At this point a

three-way conflict could potentially arise, since Germany wants to preserve its land

from both its enemies and the U.S. doesn't trust either the Germans or the Soviets.

How would this new three-way Cold War have to be played out?

6. Deterrence theory, especially massive retaliation, prevents total provocation but is

weak to limited challenges. Contrast the Soviets' open challenges (expansionism,

direct suppression of revolts) and the U.S.'s comparatively clandestine methods

(Titoism, engage against other Communist governments). Why was the U.S. unable

to be more overt? Or if we were able, why did we choose not to?

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