By G. Wyn Rees (auth.)
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Extra resources for Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955–60
Yet as the nuclear strength of the Soviets increased, it was not clear what impact this would have upon their behaviour. On the one hand, an optimistic assessment was that the Soviets would remain cautious, additional nuclear capabilities only serving to increase their sense of responsibility. They would be aware that the nuclear forces of the US and Britain were growing increasingly formidable, and that their homeland remained vulnerable to devastation. Further stockpiles of thermonuclear weapons, according to this argument, made recourse to war less, rather than more, probable.
It was appreciated that short-term military preparedness could not be bought at the expense of economic fitness in the long term. The US strategy of 'Massive Retaliation', outlined by Secretary of State Dulles in January 1954, became the formal expression of this thinking. This strategy threatened the use of nuclear weapons on a massive scale against an adversary as a response to any form of aggression around the world. The emphasis was upon punishing the aggressor by inflicting damage on him with nuclear weapons of tactical, as well as strategic, range.
It did not want to be in the position where through lack of conventional capabilities, there was no choice other than to employ nuclear weapons. Maintaining a variety of conventional capabilities would ensure flexibility and they pointed to the experience of the French in Indochina to support their case. Yet there were problems with the concept of a strategic reserve other than the limitations of manpower. To ensure its effectiveness a strategic reserve demanded a large air transport fleet that could be called upon to ferry the spearhead elements of an interventionary force to the theatre of operations.
Anglo-American Approaches to Alliance Security, 1955–60 by G. Wyn Rees (auth.)