Strategy for an Atomic Stalemate

  • Lawrence Freedman


The Soviet Union broke the United States atomic monopoly with a test in August 1949. A number of years would have to pass before this would turn into an atomic stockpile, but the eventual Soviet accumulation of such a stockpile was virtually inevitable. This development had a paradoxical effect. While it discouraged doctrines based upon atomic weapons as a uniquely American advantage, it also locked the United States into a nuclear strategy.


Atomic Weapon Fission Bomb Military Expenditure Ground Force Strategic Bombardment 
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  1. 2.
    GAC Report of October 30 1949 reprinted in Herbert York, The Advisors: Oppenheimer, Teller and the Superbomb (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1976). See also Warner R. Schilling ‘The H-Bomb decision: how to decide without actually choosing’, Political Science Quarterly LxxvI (March 1961).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Samuel F. Wells Jr, ‘Sounding the Tocsin: NSC-68 and the Soviet Threat’, International Security IV:2 (Fall 1979), pp. 120–1.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1969), p. 349.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Omar Bradley, ‘This Way Lies Peace’, Saturday Evening Post (15 October 1949).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    A Report to the National Security Council by the Executive Secretary on United States Objectives and Programs for National Security, NSC-68 (14 April 1950). It is reprinted in Etzold and Gaddis, op. cit. See Paul Hammond ‘NSC-68: Prologue to Rearmament’, in Warner Schilling, Paul Hammond and Glenn Snyder, Strategy, Politics and Defense Budgets (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    See Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), pp. 319–20.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Robert Osgood, NATO: The Entangling Alliance (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Freedman

There are no affiliations available

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