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<em>Crisis Stability and Nuclear War</em>

Crisis Stability and Nuclear War

Report, Peace Studies Program, Cornell University

January 1987

Authors: Ashton B. Carter, Former Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project, Harvard & Stanford Universities, Desmond Ball, Hans A. Bethe, Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Dr. Paul Bracken, Hillman Dickinson, Richard Garwin, Editorial Board Member, Quarterly Journal: International Security, Kurt Gottfried, David Holloway, Henry Kendall, Lloyd Leavitt, Jr., Richard Ned Debow, Condoleezza Rice, Peter Stein, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1985-1986, John D. Steinbruner, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 1973-1977, Lucja Swiatkowski, Paul Tomb

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security


This report examines the development of today's complex "command and control" systems. The authors examine the mounting strains that would be placed on this system as a confrontation intensified to the point where the command system itself was under attack. To portray the dramatic transformation brought about by the introduction of nuclear weapons and other post-1945 technical developments, they trace the evolution of command systems from Napoleon to the present day. The report also analyzes the major post-Hiroshima crises and the military and intelligence operations the superpowers are likely to mount in future crises, as well as a hypothetical Mid-East crisis scenario illustrating the dangers of nuclear proliferation.

In conclusion, the report projects the impact on crisis stability of new and forthcoming technologies, such as cruise missiles and anti-satellite weapons, and propose specific policy recommendations on which the U.S. government can act, both alone and in conjunction with the Soviet Union.


For Academic Citation:

Carter, Ashton, Desmond Ball, Hans Bethe, Bruce Blair, Paul Bracken, Hillman Dickinson, Richard Garwin, Kurt Gottfried, David Holloway, Henry Kendall, Lloyd Leavitt, Jr., Richard Ned Debow, Condoleezza Rice, Peter Stein, John Steinbruner, Lucja Swiatkowsk. Crisis Stability and Nuclear War. Ithaca, NY: Report for Peace Studies Program, Cornell University, January 1987.

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Preventive Defense Project

The Preventive Defense Project (PDP) is a Harvard-Stanford research collaboration, co-directed by Ashton B. Carter and William J. Perry.

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The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) conducts and disseminates policy-relevant research on nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

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In February 2015, Ashton B. Carter became Secretary of Defense for the United States.

Dr. Carter is former director of the Belfer Center's Preventive Defense Project and former director of what is now the Belfer Center. He is on leave.


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