The Importance of Being First

  • Lawrence Freedman


By the mid-1950s it was already becoming habitual to put the word ‘win’ in quotation marks when using it in connection with nuclear war. Traditional notions of victory and defeat dissolved in the face of the unavoidable level of destruction that even the technical winner would suffer. Every victory would be pyrrhic. Such a view lay behind the efforts of limited war theorists to encourage moderation in war-aims. There was little point in fighting for total objectives when this would require an unattainable total victory.


Ballistic Missile Civil Defence Nuclear Exchange Nuclear Attack Surprise Attack 
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Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Freedman

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