THE BALANCE OF TERROR by Pierre Gallois

THE BALANCE OF TERROR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With our widening awareness of thermonuclear war and its effects, the question of the relationship between diplomacy and military strategy mounts constantly in importance. This well-documented and lucid account of nuclear strategy throws revealing light on the subject from many new angles. The author's thesis is that when two nations are armed with nuclear weapons, even if they are unequally armed, the status quo is unavoidable. It is therefore wiser to accumulate atomic weapons than to accumulate weapons of conflict which would be possible only if war should be waged by purely conventional means. There is some truth in this thesis. But much of what Mr. Gallois says is not tenable. The strategy of dissuasion (defined by the author as the product of the value of the instruments of dissuasion times the threatened nation's intention to use them) necessitates the diplomacy of a permanent poker game. This reader does not attribute to the state department and military, powers not possessed by intelligent persons in other walks of life; clam sanity and freedom from error must be doubted. But Mr. Gallois does pose two questions that must be considered in every future study. He suggests first that the maintenance of atomic armament is comprehensible if we admit ourselves inferior in the realm of conventional weapons--i.e., in the realm of collecting at the right place the maximum number of carrying vehicles (soldiers, tanks, planes, etc.). He also very accurately indicates that the present vulnerability of United States territory changes the risk incurred by a nation committing itself to this country and thus jeopardizes the effectiveness of defense pacts. A profound contribution to the understanding of nuclear strategy that deserves critical attention.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin