Blundering Into Disaster: Surviving the First Century of the Nuclear Age

In This Review

Blundering Into Disaster: Surviving the First Century of the Nuclear Age

By Robert S. McNamara
Pantheon, 1986
212 pp. $14.95

Since leaving the World Bank six years ago, former Secretary of Defense McNamara has promoted the cause, in an ever more passionate manner, of nuclear reductions and arms control. This book brings together many of his beliefs. The risk of nuclear war, he states, is growing: "We are on the verge of a dramatic escalation of the arms race-an escalation to levels that will be more and more difficult, if not impossible, to control." Nuclear warheads, he asserts, are not "usable" weapons; NATO should no longer base its policy on their potential first use. McNamara's argument is clear and concise, sometimes to the point of appearing simplistic. It will be compelling to those who share his world view, but certainly not to others-such as most of the officials currently dealing with defense in Washington, some of whom he targets with gusto. His heaviest salvo is launched against the advocates of the Strategic Defense Initiative, which he sees as fundamentally flawed and incompatible with arms control. Even for those who disagree, the thinking of such a seasoned practitioner, courageously stated, deserves respect.

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