Krogh, Peter F. (Peter Frederic)
Person InterviewedTurner, Stansfield M.
Collins, John M.
Examines the plausibility and possible results of a nuclear first strike by the Soviet Union.
This special episode of American Interests examines the most unsettling and dangerous scenario possible during the Cold War: a nuclear first strike. The episode begins with a film simulating such an attack, meant to highlight the so-called “window of vulnerability.” Throughout the Cold War the effectiveness of the United States' nuclear deterrence relied on its ability to inflict overwhelming damage on the Soviet Union after having withstood a nuclear first strike. But as Cold War tensions took a turn for the worse, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union raced ahead with weapons development programs. The resulting nuclear buildup caused some policymakers to fear that the nuclear balance had tipped in favor of the Soviets, creating a window of vulnerability to a nuclear first strike that would render the United States' response capability useless. How valid is this theory of peril, and would the United States' nuclear forces be able to survive a first strike? Admiral Stansfield Turner, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and John Collins, senior defense analyst at the Congressional Research Service, discuss the vulnerability of the United States to a first strike and evaluate the chances of such an attack.
Russia; Former Soviet Union;
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