Throughout the Cold War, the United States relied on the theory of deterrence for protection against nuclear attack. American leaders believed that so long as the U.S. maintained nuclear forces able to survive a first-strike and retaliate with devastating power against the Soviet Union, Kremlin leaders would be deterred from mounting a nuclear attack.
In retrospect, this arms race was incredibly costly, wasteful and dangerous. If war had started, the two superpowers would have destroyed each other and probably all of humanity.
But deterrence did work. And the U.S. never attacked the Soviet Union or any other nation to stop them from becoming nuclear powers.
So, why does it seem that the U.S. has a different strategy toward North Korea and Iran?
To read the full op-ed, click here.
This op-ed first appeared at CNN.com on April 30, 2013
Photo by jonkeegan via Flickr