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Reaching Zero

By Jonathan Schell

What is the purpose, if any, of the nuclear bomb, that brooding presence that has shadowed all human life for sixty-five years? The question has haunted the nuclear age. It may be that no satisfactory answer has ever been given. Nuclear strategic thinking, in particular, has disappointed. Many of its pioneers have wound up in a state of something like despair regarding their art. For example, Bernard Brodie, one of the originators of nuclear strategy in the 1940s, was forced near the end of his life to realize that “nuclear strategy itself–the body of thoughts that he himself had helped formulate–was something of an illusion,” according to historian Fred Kaplan. In the introduction to The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, Lawrence Freedman airs the suspicion that the phrase “nuclear strategy” may be a “contradiction in terms.” Henry Kissinger, a leading figure in nuclear strategizing for a half-century, has expressed a similar feeling of futility.

Reaching Zero | The Nation

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