In This Review

Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance
Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance
By Richard K. Betts
Brookings, 1987, 240 pp

Richard Betts' thoughtful work is also testimony to the notion that historical evidence can be brought to bear on strategic issues more often than it is. Building on the work of his former Brookings Institution colleagues, Barry Blechman and Stephen Kaplan, he addresses the question of whether perceptions of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear balance have affected American behavior in crises. His conclusions are thought-provoking: there was no "golden age" of American nuclear invulnerability, for U.S. leaders in the 1950s and 1960s did not feel their country was invulnerable. Nevertheless, those leaders were prone to making nuclear threats even though they had not thought carefully about what they would do if the bluff were called.