Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War And Nuclear Risks

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Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War And Nuclear Risks

By Barry R. Posen
Cornell University Press, 1992
280 pp. $36.00

One of America's premier analysts of conventional warfare argues that "confusion about the relationship between conventional and nuclear war can lead to situations in which Western conventional and nuclear forces work at cross purposes." In particular NATO's accurate conventional weapons, like cruise missiles, might have damaged Soviet nuclear forces, thus hastening escalation to nuclear war; to be sure, Soviet forces implied the same risk. Posen's case materials derive from Europe during the 1980s, but his conclusions are suggestive beyond the Cold War to a "third image" of conflict driven less by calculated national purpose than fear in an anarchic world.

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