Strategy for an Atomic Stalemate

  • Lawrence Freedman
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


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.


Europe Uranium Explosive Military Position Deuterium 
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  1. 1.
    This could be the only explanation for the mid–1953 report of an advisory committee (written before the introduction of the TU–16) of a plausible current threat of 100 atomic bombs being accurately delivered on the US, sufficient to destroy up to one-third of America’s industrial potential, with up to 13 million casualties. Charles Murphy, ‘The US as a bombing target’. Fortune (November 1953), p. 119.Google Scholar
  2. 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 alsoGoogle Scholar
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  4. 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
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    Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1969), p. 349.Google Scholar
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    Viner, The implications of the atomic bomb’, op. cit., p. 53.Google Scholar
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    Omar Bradley, ‘This Way Lies Peace’, Saturday Evening Post (15 October 1949).Google Scholar
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    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.Google Scholar
  9. 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
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    See Bernard Brodie, Strategy in the Missile Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959), pp. 319–20.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Freedman

There are no affiliations available

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