This essay Atomic Diplomacy Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers has a total of 2141 words and 8 pages.
Atomic Diplomacy Revisted: U.S. Nuclear Security Policy, Kennen to Kissenger The emergence of the United States as a dominant party in balance of power equations is a relatively new phenomenon in world history. New military technology coupled with increased global integration has allowed the United States to reinvent the fundemental assumptions of international diplomacy while propelling itself to the top of the hedgemonic stepladder. This positioning was achieved peacemeal during the course of the first two world wars, but it wasn't until the deployment of the atomic bomb that the U.S. assumed its position as a true superpower. The years that followed this unparalled ascension are the most fascinating times in the history of U.S. international relations. Hopefully, an investigation into this atomic diplomacy, along with a balanced analysis of the problems of conceptualizing and implementing containment, will provide insight for our current efforts to devise a workable post-war national security policy. There is no way to tell the sotry of post-war national security without also teling the story of George Kennen. Kennen, the formost expert of Soviet Affairs in early post-war America, is almost wholly responsbile for the policy of containment. What we must remember under Kennen's containment is that nuclear diplomacy is not separate from other national security measures as it is often today. Nuclear weapons were part of an integrated system of containment and deterence. Truman told Kennen in early 1947 that "our weapons of mass destuction are not fail-safe devices, but instead the fundemental bedrock of American security" (Gaddis 56). They were never intended as first strike weapons and had no real tactial value. The bomb is purely strategic, and its value comes not from its destructive capabilties, but from its political and psychological ramifications. Kennen was never naive enough to view the bomb as an offensive weapon. In his long memorandum "The International Control of Atomic Energy," Kennen noted that "there could be no way in which weapons of mass destuction could be made to serve rational ends beyond simply deterring the outbreak of hostilities" (Kennen 39). Even at this early point, Kennen began to also recognize the potential of the bomb to completely wreck balance of power arrangments. Simply achieving higher potentials of destruction would not necessiarily lead to a better negotioating position with the Soviets. Truman had never considered not creating the hydrogen bomb, despite Kennen's objections. Truman's justified his adamant support of the super bomb for bargaining purposes with the Russians. Kennen's point, of course, had been that the very decision to build the hydrogen bomb would inhibit bargaining with the Russians on international control, since the Kremlin was unlikely to negotiate from a position of weakness. Most of the American national security structure viewed this as fallacious. Truman's preception was that the United States, as a technology rich but man power short nation, was operating from a position of weakness, since of necessity is relied more heavily than did the Soviet Union on weapons of mass destruction to maintain the balance of power. The Soviet atomic test in 1949 had upset that balance. Only by building the super bomb, it was thought, could equilibrium be regained. It would not be until the Kennedy administration that Kennen would be vindicated and an awareness would develop "of the basic unsoundness of a defense posture based primarily on weapons indiscriminately destructive and suicidal in their implications" (Kennen 365). The late mistakes of the Truman administration would be carryed over into the Eisenhower years. Nuclear deployment became the primary American security measure, naturally leading the Soviets to do the same. The problems of the Eisenhower years stemmed directly from the overconfidence in the U.S. nuclear program to achieve tangible military objectives in the face of increased hostilities. John Foster Dulles, the symbol of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy, began to advocate the nuclear response. The impotence of our standing army compared to the Soviet's military behemoth was clear to all U.S. policy advisors. There was no way in which we could match Russia gun for gun, tank for tank, at anytime, in any place. John's brother Allen Dulles, CIA director under Eisenhower, said "to do so would mean real strength nowhere and bankruptcy everywhere" (Gaddis 121). Instead, the U.S. response to Soviet agressions would be made on our terms. J.F. Dulles' solution was typical strategic asymmetry, but of a particular kind. His recomendations prompted a world in which "we could and would strike back where it hurts, by means of out own choosing. This could be done most effectively by relying on atomic weapons, and on the strategic air and naval power necessary to deliver them" (Dulles 147). This unbalanced strategic equation between the two superpowers was not even the most dangerous flaw of the 1950s. In retrospect, the most startling deficiency of the Eisenhower administration's strategy was its bland self-confidence that it could use nuclear weapons without starting an all out nuclear war. Limited nuclear conflict was possible, as Kissenger argued in Nuclear Weapons and Foriegn Policy, "but only if those participating in it had agreed beforehand on the boundries beyond which it would nto extend" (Kissenger 124). This was clearly impossible with the Soviets, making Eisenhower's policy foolhardy and naive. Given the high amount of activity by the U.S. intellegence aparatus during the time, espcially in Russia and South Asia, it is suprising that an international incident of cataclysmic proportions did not take place. Strategic asymmetry, supplemented by nuclear superiority, would not last long after Eisenhower. Instead, it was replaced with Kennedy's "flexible response." The critics of "The New Look" and past nuclear dimplomacy pointed out that only newfound symmetry allows us enough political flexibilty to respond to Russian agression in whatever way suits U.S. interests at the time. Kennedy, possesing an economic rationale for disregarding costs, placed his emphasis on minimizing risks by giving the U.S. sufficent flexibility to respond to Russia with neither escalation or humiliation. This required a capacity to act on all levels, ranging from diplomacy through covert action, guerilla operations, coventional and nuclear war. Equally important, though, it would require careful control. Walt W. Rostow, Kennen's replacement as Chairman of The Policy Planning Council, was chosen as usual on behalf of the Kennedy administration to spell out the problems the new flexible response policy would solve: I
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