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To Kill NationsAmerican Strategy in the Air-Atomic Age and the Rise of Mutually Assured Destruction$
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Edward Kaplan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452482

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452482.001.0001

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To Kill a Nation

To Kill a Nation

(p.108) 5 To Kill a Nation
To Kill Nations

Edward Kaplan

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the interaction of national policy under the Eisenhower administration with the new nuclear reality, in plans for nuclear war and through real world crises. During the 1950s, the US Air Force's transition from early to the late air-atomic strategy benefited from the vigorous support of President Eisenhower. His administration carefully studied atomic weapons and their implications, and integrated them into national security policy. Eisenhower backed late air-atomic ideas with all of its terrors and rejected conflicting schools of thought, although in crises he steered clear from the danger of world war. Through National Security Council (NSC) paper 162/2 and subsequent Basic National Security Policies (BNSP), Eisenhower articulated a clear declaratory policy, which the action policy—air-atomic strategy—suited well. Eisenhower sought to reduce military spending so to fuel economic growth for a long struggle with the USSR, balancing the “great equation” and avoiding a “garrison state.” His military strategy sought to provide unambiguous destructive potential at low cost. The air-atomic action policy did so.

Keywords:   Dwight D. Eisenhower, atomic weapons, national security policy, defense policy, air-atomic strategy, military spending

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