The Dilemmas of Deterrence

November 4, 2020
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The idea of nuclear war became unimaginable almost overnight when the United States and Soviet Union tested the first hydrogen bombs in the early 1950s. But for President Dwight Eisenhower, preventing nuclear war meant convincing everyone that you weren’t afraid to fight one. Was Eisenhower playing with fire – or taking the only sensible path? This episode explores the challenges and contradictions of nuclear deterrence. Usha examines the strategy of “massive retaliation,” the challenge of defending America’s European allies, and Eisenhower’s nuclear threats against Khrushchev, asking the question at the heart of nuclear history: Did nuclear weapons make the world safer or more dangerous? Figuring out the answer is more complicated than you might think.

 

Featuring Dr. Will Hitchcock, Dr. Alex Wellerstein, Dr. Susie Colbourn, and Dr. Marc Trachtenberg