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The Delicate Balance of Terror: Nuclear Deterrence and MAD

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The Delicate Balance of Terror: Nuclear Deterrence and MAD PO 326: American Foreign Policy The Kennedy Approach: Flexible Response Upon election, JFK sought to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Delicate Balance of Terror: Nuclear Deterrence and MAD


1
The Delicate Balance of Terror Nuclear
Deterrence and MAD
  • PO 326 American Foreign Policy

2
The Kennedy Approach Flexible Response
  • Upon election, JFK sought to carry on the policy
    of containment
  • Like Ike, JFK believed that the best means by
    which to counter the spread of communism was to
    meet it on all fronts with the threat of armed
    force
  • Unlike Ike, JFK thought that a full range of
    American instrumentalities was necessary to
    accomplish this task, instead of just the
    economically-minded reliance on the threat of
    massive retaliation
  • The resulting doctrine, flexible response,
    sought to use whatever means was necessary to
    counter communism given particular situations

3
The Kennedy Approach Flexible Response
  • The flexible response doctrine involved
  • The perception (misperception?) of the USSR and
    the PRC as a monolithic threat
  • Aggressively countering the growth of Soviet
    missile strength (missile gap myth?)
  • A focus on using aid and the threat of limited
    war to counter the spread of communism on the
    periphery
  • A focus on using aid and military backing for
    nation-building on the periphery, in order to
    establish pro-American governments there
    (Alliance for Progress)
  • Establishment of strong state institutions
  • Liberal and Wilsonian overtones, but not
    necessarily predicated upon the institution of
    democracy pro-Americanism superseded this

4
The Kennedy Approach Flexible Response
  • Flexible Response therefore necessitated a
    massive buildup of both nuclear and conventional
    forces, resulting in a massive increase in
    defense budget from Ikes tenure
  • Guns vs. Butter tradeoff diminished funds
    available for social programs important to
    Democrats
  • Internal wrangle for funds amongst various
    services (parochialism)

5
The Nuclear End of Flexible Response
  • We focus today on the role of nuclear threats in
    the flexible response doctrine, leaving
    consideration of activity on the periphery for
    later

6
The Nuclear End of Flexible Response
  • The Second Berlin Crisis, 1961
  • At Vienna, Khrushchev threatened to end the
    German question by signing treaty with East
    Germany, establishing Berlin as free city under
    GDR control
  • US disapproves, draws up refutation as State is
    slow in doing this, JFK makes public statement
    vowing defense, alerts military, calls up
    reserves, inaugurates national fallout shelter
    program (nuclear fears)
  • As East Germans leave Berlin in wake of crisis,
    USSR builds Wall (August 12)
  • By October, US and Soviet tanks had taken up
    positions 75 yards from one another US troops
    apparently threatened to destroy the wall
  • Crisis ends when Khrushchev vows not to sign
    treaty with GDR
  • Cuban Missile Crisis

7
The Nuclear Question First Strike and Soviet
Parity
  • Recall that nuclear deterrence during the
    Eisenhower years was predicated in part on the
    credible first use of nukes by a weapons-superior
    US
  • This results in a distinct advantage in terms of
    diplomacy based on nuclear threat
  • By the early-to-mid 1960s, however, Trumans
    fears had seemingly come true the USSR was
    alleged to be approaching nuclear parity with US,
    and was becoming increasingly capable of
    delivering nukes from USSR
  • Makes first use doctrine incredible, thereby
    eliminating American advantage
  • Supposed Soviet parity, combined with massive
    absolute numbers of nukes possessed by both
    sides, sets the stage for a new, complex form of
    diplomacy based on nuclear threat

8
The Concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
  • Enough nuclear weapons are built between the
    superpowers so that neither side can prevent the
    other from utterly destroying it
  • MAD is predicated upon a secure second strike
    capability (i.e., each state being able to absorb
    a nuclear first strike and still having enough
    weapons left over to destroy the enemy)

9
The Concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
  • In an important sense, MAD diminishes the
    prospect of nuclear use
  • Recall that the US (especially in Ikes doctrine
    of massive retaliation) sought to use the threat
    of first nuclear use to deter aggression
  • The credibility of this deterrent is largely
    based on one states monopoly on the ability to
    totally destroy others with nuclear weapons
  • When a key adversary develops a similar
    capability, however, the credibility of a first
    use threat is largely eliminated because of the
    costs resulting from retaliation in kind

10
The Concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
  • HOWEVER even when mutual destruction is
    assured, there exist incentives for leaders to
    manipulate the threat of MAD to gain benefits
    vis-à-vis an adversary
  • Leaders reason that their counterparts realize
    the folly of engaging in nuclear brinkmanship
    they may use this weakness (their forbearance)
    to attempt to extract concessions from or
    embarrass them
  • When a leader seeks to do this, he is placing the
    welfare of both societies in his faith that his
    adversary will back down because of the immense
    costs of general nuclear war

11
The Concept of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
  • Manipulating the threat of MAD (contd)
  • Such an attitude willingly places both leaders on
    a slippery slope toward annihilation
  • Game theorists (most notably, Thomas Schelling)
    have claimed that the logic underlying the game
    of chicken (a la James Dean in Rebel Without a
    Cause) is a reasonable representation of how the
    manipulation of the threat of MAD plays out

12
The Basic Chicken Game
PLAYER 2
Swerve Drive Straight
Swerve 0,0 (Both Chicken) -4, 4 (P1 Chicken)
Drive Straight 4, -4 (P2 Chicken) -10, -10 (Both Die)
PLAYER 1
13
Nuclear Brinkmanship as a Game of Chicken
Rules for our Game
  • Two teams (countries) selected by nature
    both possess second-strike capability
  • Assume existence of some basic, serious conflict
    of interest
  • Four iterations of the game
  • One team assigned a leader from their rank for
    the duration the other team allowed to elect
    their leader and hold another election after the
    second iteration (all extra credit tied to
    leaders decisions)
  • First two iterations with no communication next
    two with communication
  • Game score is cumulative, but game ends when
    general nuclear war occurs

14
Nuclear Brinkmanship as a Game of Chicken
PLAYER 2
Back Down Escalate
Back Down 0,0 (Status Quo) -4, 4 (P1 Loses Issue, Face)
Esca- late 4, -4 (P2 Loses Issue, Face) -10, -10 (General Nuclear War)
PLAYER 1
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