To Kill Nations: American Strategy in the Air-Atomic Age and the Rise of Mutually Assured Destruction

To Kill Nations: American Strategy in the Air-Atomic Age and the Rise of Mutually Assured Destruction

by Edward Kaplan

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Overview

To Kill Nations: American Strategy in the Air-Atomic Age and the Rise of Mutually Assured Destruction by Edward Kaplan

Between 1945 and 1950, the United States had a global nuclear monopoly. The A-bomb transformed the nation's strategic airpower and saw the Air Force displace the Navy at the front line of American defense. In To Kill Nations, Edward Kaplan traces the evolution of American strategic airpower and preparation for nuclear war from this early air-atomic era to a later period (1950–1965) in which the Soviet Union’s atomic capability, accelerated by thermonuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, made American strategic assets vulnerable and gradually undermined air-atomic strategy. The shift to mutually assured destruction (MAD) via general nuclear exchange steadily took precedence in strategic thinking and budget allocations. Soon American nuclear-armed airborne bomber fleets shaped for conventionally defined—if implausible, then impossible—victory were supplanted by missile-based forces designed to survive and punish. The Air Force receded from the forefront of American security policy.Kaplan throws into question both the inevitability and preferability of the strategic doctrine of MAD. He looks at the process by which cultural, institutional, and strategic ideas about MAD took shape and makes insightful use of the comparison between generals who thought they could win a nuclear war and the cold institutional logic of the suicide pact that was MAD. Kaplan also offers a reappraisal of Eisenhower’s nuclear strategy and diplomacy to make a case for the marginal viability of air-atomic military power even in an era of ballistic missiles.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801452482
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 04/22/2015
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,139,817
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Edward Kaplan is Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is coeditor of Atlas for Introduction to Military History and editor of High Flight: History of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Antecedents2. Declaration, Action, and the Air-Atomic Strategy3. Finding a Place4. The Fantastic Compression of Time5. To Kill a Nation6. Stalemate, Finite Deterrence, Polaris, and SIOP-627. New Sheriff in Town8. End of an EraConclusionKey to Sources and Abbreviations
Notes
Index

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