Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance

Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance

by Richard K. Betts
     
 

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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

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.

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815709367
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
05/28/1987
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.45(h) x (d)

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