Nuclear Fallacy: Dispelling the Myth of Nuclear Strategy

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Nuclear Fallacy: Dispelling the Myth of Nuclear Strategy

By Morton H. Halperin
Ballinger, 1987
173 pp. $19.95

This slender essay marks the return to the strategic field of Halperin, who coauthored (with Thomas Schelling) Strategy and Arms Control, one of the pioneering works in arms control studies. Halperin argues that most of the history of nuclear confrontations since the 1940s has become myth: nuclear threats were "never" decisive in these crises; but the mythology has imprisoned American strategy, and created a dangerous reliance on nuclear threats. His solution is a familiar one: disavow any military use of nuclear weapons except in extreme circumstances and then only for "demonstration." Under the Halperin alternative, the president would inform the joint chiefs of staff never to plan on using any nuclear weapons.

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