Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The advent of nuclear weapons changed the very nature of deterrence. The power of these weapons, their short- and longer-term effects, led strategists to consider deterrence in an entirely new light: ‘Thus far’, wrote Bernard Brodie, ‘the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them.’ Herman Kahn, in an early RAND Paper, expressed a similar opinion. Although one may take issue with it, it has become—at least in Western democracies—accepted and widely shared. Besides, the debate has been raging now for sixty-five years about the morality of nuclear deterrence and of avoiding major war at a price that seems to some too high or based on inherently immoral threats. It should be kept in mind that the discussion of the relationship between nuclear deterrence and war cannot but take as its basis the fact that nuclear deterrence has prevented major war for more than a half-century, and that this success alone influences the analysis of the future relevance of nuclear deterrence.

Keywords: nuclear deterrence, war, military establishment, Western democracies, war strategy, conventional war

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.