THE NUCLEAR CRISIS READER by Gwyn--Ed. Prim
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THE NUCLEAR CRISIS READER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This anthology will find its place in the bookshelf of proliferating debates over nuclear weapons because it makes good use of men who, having served their time in high government or military posts, have recently gone public with their misgivings about the defense policies they served. Represented in this collection, an outgrowth of a Cambridge U. seminar, are two regular participants in the debate, McGeorge Bundy and George Kennan. But also included are retired officers like Rear Admiral Eugene J. Carroll Jr., a veteran of Alexander Haig's NATO command staff and the Pentagon, who argues that nuclear weapons serve no useful military function and can only be legitimated for their deterrent role--a function which, in turn, is undermined through nuclear proliferation. He is seconded by retired Lieutenant General A. S. Collins, formerly a combat commander and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the US Army in Europe, who claims that a tactical nuclear weapons strategy for NATO forces is suicidal. These and other contributors put the case forcefully that US strategy is based on worst-case scenarios of questionable applicability (analyzed here by former US Ambassador to Bulgaria and current Brookings Senior Fellow Raymond L. Garthoff), and not on consideration of Soviet defense strategy. (The Soviets supposedly have no legitimate defense requirements--because western planners don't see themselves as a potential threat.) Where the contributors disagree is over deterrence itself. Bundy thinks that deterrence is a valid but restricted concept; that in assessing the relative strength of US and Soviet nuclear capability, we overemphasize the political usefulness of nuclear threat (he doubts that the threat of nuclear attack ever had any effect). The only real reason to have nuclear weapons, then, is because the other side has them--neither side can use them. Retired Army Chaplain, Major General K. D. Johnson is among those who disagree, arguing that deterrence is morally objectionable, period. Among the 15 contributors are also John Kenneth Galbraith, who points to both the increasing power of the US military establishment and to the popular wave of opposition to it (counseling more active opposition); and U. of Toronto chemist John C. Polanyi, who notes that space has already become militarized (through command and intelligence-gathering satellites), but the real threat is that it will be ""weaponized,"" adding another layer to the arms race and destroying whatever stability satellites have achieved. These are people who refrain from empty rhetoric and who know what they're talking about. A solid and informative collection.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1984
Publisher: Vintage/Random House