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Nuclear Myths and Political Realities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Kenneth N. Waltz*
University of California Berkeley


Two pervasive beliefs have given nuclear weapons a bad name: that nuclear deterrence is highly problematic, and that a breakdown in deterrence would mean Armageddon. Both beliefs are misguided and suggest that nearly half a century after Hiroshima, scholars and policy makers have yet to grasp the full strategic implications of nuclear weaponry. I contrast the logic of conventional and nuclear weaponry to show how nuclear weapons are in fact a tremendous force for peace and afford nations that possess them the possibility of security at reasonable cost.

Copyright © American Political Science Association 1990

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