Business As Usual?

  • Peter M. E. Volten


This pronouncement by Henry Kissinger, made in the 1950s about American strategic nuclear policy, is still applicable to NATO policymaking today. A cynic may describe the strategy of flexible response as a potpourri of ideas and notions, which often have nothing to do with each other. Flexible response, intended to keep the opponent in the dark, also keeps people in the West guessing about the execution of a strategy, designed for ‘whenever the moment arrives’. Critics of NATO strategy point out, that the way the West ‘prepares for war’ lacks both consistency and credibility. As a result of such criticism, various attempts have been made to provide the West with an alternative.


Nuclear Weapon Flexible Response Military Organisation Emerge Technology Deterrence Strategy 
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  1. 1.
    Henry A. Kissinger, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (New York: Norton, 1969) (first edn 1957), p. 226.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Barry R. Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine, France, Britain, and Germany between the World Wars (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1984) p. 58.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Cf. Jack Snyder, ‘Civil-Military Relations and the Cult of the Offensive, 1914 to 1984’, International Security (Summer 1984) pp. 108–146.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Bernard Brodie, ‘Technological Change, Strategic Doctrine, and Political Outcomes’, in Klaus Knorr (ed.), Historical Dimensions of National Security Problems (Kansas UP, 1976) p. 299.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Frank Barnaby and Marlies ter Borg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. E. Volten

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