Stimson in the News

Michael Krepon column on effect of psychology on deterrence strategy published in Arms Control Wonk

in Program

The Psychology of Deterrence

Henry Kissinger wrote two early, influential books on the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (1957) and The Necessity for Choice (1960). I bought these used books at bargain-basement prices at the Princeton University bookstore. The name on the inside cover suggests that I was the beneficiary of Klaus Knorr’s decision to thin out his library. I was at Princeton on a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship to write Strategic Stalemate: Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control in American Politics (1984).

The Necessity for Choice appeared at a time of great apprehension about Soviet strategic advances and the Eisenhower administration’s seemingly sluggish response. Kissinger, like many others, was under the misapprehension that the missile gap was real and that the Soviet Union was running laps around the United States in the strategic competition. The subsequent discovery that the Missile Gap was imaginary did not calm strategic anxieties because nuclear technologies and delivery vehicles were advancing so rapidly that no one could confidently predict a safe passage in this competition. Kissinger’s concerns resonated greatly at the time. Some have continued relevance.

To read the full column, click here.


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