THE PRICE OF PEACE by Lawrence Freedman


Email this review


A collection of essays examining the political aspects of the nuclear issue. Freedman is author of The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, among others. All of the essays here appeared previously in various journals, including Foreign Policy and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. They include discussions of disarmament from the European perspective, the doctrines of flexible response and limited war, the NATO alliance, Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and nuclear weapons strategy. Closest to current American interests is the SDI, which Freedman criticizes as simplistic: "". . .A strategic defense is likely to be most effective only if the other side's offense has already been depleted through a first strike. . ."" He argues that the SDI has served basically as a distraction for ""those unwilling to face up to the real dilemmas. . ."" But Freedman is no ivory-tower dreamer. Based upon a reading of this collection, he understands well the requirements of the real world. For instance, unlike most academics, he avers that it is nonsense to promise a no-first-use of nuclear weapons, for such a promise ""would contradict the inherent sense of nuclear risk that ought to provide a source of sobriety in crisis diplomacy."" Unlike some recent theorists (see Krauss, How NATO Weakens the West, below), Freedman argues that despite some political drawbacks, the current alliance system should be maintained. ""We live in an old house. Those who wish to put on stronger foundations may in the process bring it down around them; and it may just fall on those who content themselves with patching up the cracks."" Thoughtful commentary by a highly objective observer.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Henry Holt