The Debate Of Strategic Nuclear Policy

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Until the 1950s, the discussion of strategic nuclear policy was embryonic at best, and many strategic developments went largely unrecognized. The post second world war era started with a US monopoly on nuclear weapons, however the Soviets soon broke this and both sides developed hydrogen bombs in the early 1950s. In the early 1950s, the US followed the policy of massive retaliation. However, by the late 1950s, with the advent of the modern missile based on V-2 technology from the end of WWII and further dramatized by the Soviet launching of sputnik in 1957, the US was forced to reconsider its nuclear doctrine. One school of thought believed that a delicate balance had to be struck with the Soviets. The US soon formulated the policy of…show more content…
Robert McNamara, then defense secretary, stated in a speech in 1962 ‘principle military objectives in the event of a nuclear war against the NATO alliance should be destruction of an enemies military forces, not his civilian population. Five years later, towards the end of his tenure as secretary of defense, McNamara stressed ‘now it is imperative to understand that assured destruction is the whole essence of the deterrence concept. It means the certainty of suicide to the aggressor, not merely to his military forces but to society as a whole. This shows the smart and clear shift in McNamara leaning towards the limiter’s school. (The change was primarily in declaratory policy, as in what was said about nuclear weapons in plans; the actual nuclear policy of the US under McNamara 's control emphasized the targeting of military installations, not civilian populations) The soviets had begun to build very large warheads, and many of them put even well protected sites in additional risk. Perhaps more important, however, was the advent of MIRV, Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle meant that one missile with several warheads could independently target multiple missiles. For a variety of reasons, rather than becoming another stride in the arms race, ABM development in the late 60s and early 70s provided an impetus for the first US/soviet arms control agreement. Together with the ABM restrictions, the first strategic arms limitation treaty SALT put the first
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