In This Review

Planning the Unthinkable: How New Powers Will Use Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
Planning the Unthinkable: How New Powers Will Use Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons
Edited by Peter Lavoy, Scott D. Sagan, and James J. Wirtz
Cornell University Press, 2000, 257 pp

The old rules of the nuclear game were clear, complete with the jargon of "time-urgent hard target kill" and similar ungainly esoterica. These essays, which do not all immediately focus on the future, deliver a central message: Whatever new powers may think about weapons of mass destruction, they probably do so differently than did the United States or the Soviet Union. The volume offers numerous case studies, which include fascinating (if chilling) reading on a variety of countries (Iraq, Iran, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea) as well as terrorist groups; one senses that the list is not exhaustive. The challenge for the United States, these essays conclude grimly, is figuring out how to respond to the use of such weapons when-not if-they are used.