The Double Game: The Demise of America's First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation (Hardback)James Cameron (author)
Hardback 248 Pages / Published: 07/12/2017
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How did the United States move from position of nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1960s to a period of arms control based on nuclear parity the doctrine of mutual assured destruction in 1972? Drawing on declassified records of conversations between three presidents and their most trusted advisors, this book provides a new and fascinating answer to this question. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon struggled to reconcile their own personal convictions on the nuclear arms race with the very different views of the public and Congress. In doing so they engaged in a double game, hiding their true beliefs behind a facade of strategic language while grappling in private with the complex realities of the nuclear age. The book shows how Kennedy and Johnson consistently worried about the domestic political costs of their actions, pushing ahead with an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system for the United States for fear of the domestic political consequences of scrapping both the system and the doctrine of strategic superiority on which it was based. By contrast, the abrupt change in U.S. public and congressional opinion in 1969 forced Nixon to give up America's first ABM and the U.S. lead in offensive ballistic missiles through agreements with the Soviet Union, despite his conviction that the U.S. needed a nuclear edge over the USSR to maintain the security of the West. By placing this dynamic at the center of the story, the book provides a completely new overarching interpretation of this pivotal period in the development of U.S. nuclear policy.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 468 g
Dimensions: 239 x 164 x 22 mm
"[P]rovides an extremely well-documented analysis of the evolution of US policy regarding strategic missile defense within the context of overall nuclear arms policy from the Kennedy through the Nixon administrations....Recommended."--CHOICE
"For some 50 years, Washington and Moscow have been involved in a bilateral process of arms limitation and reduction that appears to be coming to an end....It is natural to return to the beginning of this process to try to understand how this system of restraints emerged. As James Cameron argues in The Double Game, we've been wrong about what motivated strategic arms limitation all along."--Jeffrey Lewis, Survival
"A bravura performance. James Cameron compellingly guides the reader to a nuanced understanding of the rise and demise of the US ABM program and Washington's move away from nuclear superiority to parity in offensive forces, all the while documenting the 'double game' that policymakers played in the effort to reconcile their perceptions of what Congress and the public would bear with their own feelings regarding nuclear weapons. This book significantly contributes to the burgeoning field that seeks to draw connections between nuclear strategy and other discrete issues."--Joseph M. Siracusa, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University
"A deeply researched, well-written exploration of a critically important history we thought we understood--the origins and consequences of the strategic arms control talks between the superpowers that led to the SALT and ABM treaties. Cameron provides new insights and challenges conventional wisdoms to provide a better understanding of arms races, geopolitical competition, and the efforts to avoid nuclear war. A must-read for scholars of the Cold War, nuclear history, and international relations."--Francis J. Gavin, Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs, SAIS-Johns Hopkins University
"The Double Game shows that politics does not stop at the atom's edge. Eager to improve their domestic political standing, US presidents have repeatedly made nuclear weapons policy commitments that violated their better strategic judgment. This engaging study puts another nail in the coffin of rational deterrence theory."--Jacques E. C. Hymans, University of Southern California
"James Cameron has written an acute and revealing account of United States strategic weapons policy from 1961 to 1972. He uses the frequent contradictions between the private thoughts and public utterances of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon to probe the domestic political context in which they grappled with the vital issues raised by nuclear weapons. This elegant and critical analysis throws fascinating new light on a crucial period of nuclear history."--David Holloway, author of Stalin and the Bomb
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