Ages ago, I was a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill, working for a member of the House Armed Services Committee. The most impressive person who testified before the Committee was Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger. His mind was like a steel trap. He personified cold logic, equanimity, and mental toughness. I disagreed with almost everything he said about nuclear weapons, but he forced me to rethink my assumptions, sharpen my arguments, and re-do the math, so to speak.
Reading Brad Roberts’s book, The Case for U.S. Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century (Stanford University Press, 2016) brought me back to those hearings – and forward to the deterrence challenges the United States now faces. Brad writes with authority, having served from 2009-2013 as Deputy Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And he is downright Schlesingerian in raising questions about Red and Blue “theories of victory” in these troubled times. Arms control wonks willing to have their assumptions and policy preferences challenged would benefit from reading this book.
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