Limited Means

  • Lawrence FreedmanEmail author
  • Jeffrey Michaels


Henry Kissinger wrote that ‘The more moderate the objective, the less violent war is likely to be’, as if the choice of weapons and the manner of their use would be governed by the war-aims of the contestants. Yet the choice of means had to be decided on the basis of those available, and the problem faced by the proponents of limited war was that the means most appropriate for limited objectives—strong, local conventional forces—were by far the most expensive. However strong the argument for conventional forces in terms of military logic, it would not carry the day if there were no funds available from hard-pressed and restricted national budgets (paradoxically, limited budgets did not make for limited war). In consequence many, but not all, of the proponents of limited war in the mid-1950s opted for ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of War StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Defence StudiesKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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