Almost every contemporary issue having to do with nuclear weapons has been considered in earlier debates. Indeed, the earlier the better, since it’s easier for strategic analysts to be prescient when starting from scratch. Hence, my periodic encouragement to new readers of ACW to read the early work of Bernard Brodie, especially his thin edited volume, The Absolute Weapon: Atomic Power and World Order (1946).
The singular authority of the President of the United States to authorize the use of nuclear weapons has once again become a public issue as a result of the Republican Party’s nomination of Donald Trump as its standard-bearer against Hillary Clinton. The last time Americans focused so intently on the linkage between temperament and release authority was during the candidacy of Barry Goldwater in 1964. Then, as now, campaign commercials appeared seeking to sway undecided voters to cast their ballots for the steadier mind and hand.
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