Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance

Overview

In numerous crises after World War II -- Berlin, Korea, the Taiwan Straits, and the Middle East -- the United States resorted to vague threats to use nuclear weapons in order to deter Soviet or Chinese military action. On a few occasions the Soviet Union also engaged in nuclear saber-rattling. Using declassified documents and other sources, this volume examines those crises and compares the decisionmaking processes of leaders who considered nuclear threats with the commonly ...
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Washington, DC 1987 Hard cover First edition. First printing [stated]. Good in fair dust jacket. DJ has wear, soiling, edge tears and chips. xi, [3], 240, [2] p. Footnotes. ... Index. In numerous crises after World War II--Berlin, Korea, the Taiwan Straits, and the Middle East--the United States resorted to vague threats to use nuclear weapons in order to deter Soviet or Chinese military action. On a few occasions the Soviet Union also engaged in nuclear saber-ratling. Using declassified documents and other sources, this volume examines those crises and compares the decisionmaking processes of leaders who considered nuclear threats with the commonly accepted logic of nuclear deterrence and coercion. From Wikipedia: "Richard Kevin Betts (born August 15, 1947) is the Arnold Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies in the Department of Political Science, the director of the Institute of War and Peace Studies, and the director of the International Security Policy Program in the School of International and Public Read more Show Less

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Overview

In numerous crises after World War II -- Berlin, Korea, the Taiwan Straits, and the Middle East -- the United States resorted to vague threats to use nuclear weapons in order to deter Soviet or Chinese military action. On a few occasions the Soviet Union also engaged in nuclear saber-rattling. Using declassified documents and other sources, this volume examines those crises and compares the decisionmaking processes of leaders who considered nuclear threats with the commonly accepted logic of nuclear deterrence and coercion.

Rejecting standard explanations of our leaders' logic in these cases, Betts suggests that U.S. presidents were neither consciously bluffing when they made nuclear threats, nor prepared to face the consequences if their threats failed. The author also challenges the myth that the 1950s was a golden age of low vulnerability for the United States and details how nuclear parity has, and has not, altered conditions that gave rise to nuclear blackmail in the past.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YA A book about the basic politics involved in nuclear disarmament, or how we built up our nuclear stockpiles and now how we go about reducing them. Betts gives a chronological perspective beginning with the late 1940s and the Cold War until the present day. He highlights several major events for each decade (including the Berlin Blockade, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Middle East War of 1978), focusing on the United States and Soviet negotiations only. All of the pertinent historical information is clearly outlined and discussed. Betts' major thesis is that major governmental powers were not bluffing when they threatened using nuclear weapons, but that they may not have been willing to carry out that threat.Karl Penny, Houston Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815709367
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1987
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240

Table of Contents

1. Risks, Threats, and Rationales 1
Theory and Practice 3
Analytical Issues 16
2. Lower-Risk Cases 22
The Berlin Blockade, 1948 23
The Korean War, 1950-53 31
Asian Crises, 1954-55 48
Suez, 1956 62
Lebanon and the Taiwan Straits, 1958 66
Soviet-Chinese Border Clashes, 1969 79
3. Higher-Risk Cases 82
The Berlin Deadline Crisis, 1958-59 83
The Berlin Aide-Memoire Crisis, 1961 92
The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962 109
The Middle East War, 1973 123
The Carter Doctrine, 1980 129
4. Brinks and Balances: Interests, Vulnerability, Resolve 132
Right Makes Might? The Balance of Interests and Resolve 133
The Nuclear Balance before Parity: Myth of a Golden Age 144
Did the Bomb Work "Both Ways"? 172
5. Parity: Change, Continuity, Confusion 180
Equivocal Views of Equivalence 182
Parity and Nuclear First Use 195
6. Is There a Future for Nuclear Coercion? 212
The Past 213
Future Cases? 220
Index 235
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