Beyond the mining of North Vietnamese ports and selective bombing in and around Hanoi, the initial DUCK HOOK concept included proposals for "tactical" nuclear strikes against logistics targets and U.S. and South Vietnamese ground incursions into the North. In early October 1969, however, Nixon aborted planning for the long-contemplated operation. He had been influenced by Hanoi's defiance in the face of his dire threats and concerned about U.S. public reaction, antiwar protests, and internal administration dissent.
In place of DUCK HOOK, Nixon and Kissinger launched a secret global nuclear alert in hopes that it would lend credibility to their prior warnings and perhaps even persuade Moscow to put pressure on Hanoi. It was to be a "special reminder" of how far President Nixon might go. The risky gambit failed to move the Soviets, but it marked a turning point in the administration's strategy for exiting Vietnam. Nixon and Kissinger became increasingly resigned to a "long-route" policy of providing Saigon with a "decent chance" of survival for a "decent interval" after a negotiated settlement and U.S. forces left Indochina.
Burr and Kimball draw upon extensive research in participant interviews and declassified documents to offer a history that holds important lessons for the present and future about the risks and uncertainties of nuclear threat making.
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 862 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 43 mm
"I didn't know any of this as I was copying the top secret Pentagon Papers that fall, but if I had I would have given the Papers to the newspapers right away--rather than two years later, after waiting in vain for Congress to act on them--in desperate hopes of heading off massive escalation and possible nuclear war. A gripping and essential read!"--Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
"A solid, well-researched book, with clear prose that helps propel the narrative through the murkier aspects of the motives and reasonings of Cold War strategic decision making."--Army History
"This book is an indispensable source for studying the international diplomacy of the Vietnam War. Its richness ensures that readers will emerge from its pages with differing judgments and assessments of Nixon's coercive diplomacy."--Journal of American History
"William Burr and Jeffrey Kimball deserve praise for their discerning and cogent reconstruction of the motives and actions of the Nixon Administration to its first year. Students interested in the Vietnam War or the Cold War more generally will learn a great deal from Nixon's Nuclear Specter."--Michigan War Studies Review
"Nixon's Nuclear Specter is a detailed and careful account of Nixon's and Kissinger's fruitless efforts during 1969 to find an "honorable" way out of Vietnam. As events that year unfolded, these authors demonstrate, honor had little to do with it."--New York Review of Books
"What the authors reveal is the intense, behind-the-scenes plotting and planning that Nixon and Kissinger carried on in 1969 as they desperately tried to find a way to move the Vietnam War talks with Hanoi to fruition."VVA Veteran
"An important contribution to the [Cold War] literature."--Choice
"Well written and thoroughly researched, Nixon's Nuclear Specter is a rich study of scholars of the era, and essential for those interested in Vietnam, the Nixon era, and the mindset of our 37th president. With the release of additional Nixon White House records and tapes we can only hope that the authors continue writing, jointly, or separately, for many more years."--H-Net Reviews
"There will be no better book-length case study on coercive nuclear diplomacy than the one just written by William burr and Jeffrey P. Kimball."--Arms Control Today
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