The crazy logic of nuclear deterrence

The Soviet Union has come and gone, but the crazy logic of nuclear deterrence lives on.

The threat of nuclear weapons is the ultimate threat, but it is a threat only a madman would carry out.

So for the threat to be convincing. you have to convince your opponent you are a madman.

The best way to convince your opponent you are a madman is to actually be a madman/

The second best way is to act so much like a  madman that nobody can be sure whether you are or not.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un come to mind in this respect.

The risk is that your act is too successful, and your opponent thinks he has no choice but to strike first.

We’re lucky.  Over nearly 70 years, this has not happened.  But it only has to happen once.


A Game of Nuclear Chicken With Russia and China by Micheal Klare for TomDispatch.

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3 Responses to “The crazy logic of nuclear deterrence”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    I really have to disagree on this one. Nuclear weapons prevented WWIiI from going hot and destroying Europe and Asia yet again.

    The Calvin and Hobbes cartoon does not apply because they didn’t think through the inevitable result of playing their game. The leaders of the nuclear armed nations of the world have thought the game through and decided that if both parties have their dart gun, then the game – thermonuclear war – isn’t worth playing. (Even N. Korea knows this.) Leaders may be corrupt and paranoid but so stupid.

    Which is not to say nuclear arms couldn’t be VASTLY reduced in quantity. But none of the major players in the nuclear world can disarm completely. Having the only dart gun in the game automatically makes you the winner even if you never pull the trigger.


  2. philebersole Says:

    The problem is not just nuclear deterrence. It also is nuclear brinksmanship.
    Brinksmanship is the use of nuclear weapons to intimidate and gain concessions.
    Michael Klare’s article is about brinksmanship.


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