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The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence

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Published on Jul 24, 2008

Did nuclear deterrence "keep us safe" for sixty years during the Cold War? Does it, in other words, work? For those who already have nuclear weapons, does nuclear deterrence justify their keeping them?

Nuclear deterrence is based on the assumption that in moments of extreme national crisis attacks against cities (or the threat of attacks against cities) will matter. Much of our thinking about this question, however, ignores the available evidence and recent reinterpretations of important cases.

New Jersey-based independent scholar Ward Wilson, winner of the 2008 Doreen and Jim McElvany Nonproliferation Challenge, will offer a critique of nuclear deterrence and a detailed discussion of the historical evidence that contradicts the concept.

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