It's amazing how close we

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 03, 2001

It's amazing how close we got to nuclear war in the 1940s and 50s...probably a lot closer than most people even realize. Both this article and Dark Sun : The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (excellent book, BTW) state that the United States was planning a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union.

The basic idea, as presented in particular by Rhodes in Dark Sun, is that the only way a nuclear war could be "won" (i.e. one of the sides left mostly intact) is through a preemptive and total nuclear attack on the enemy before they could attack you; a knockout punch delivered before the bell rings, so to speak. And since, in the late 40s and early 50s, we had that "knockout" capability and the Soviet Union did not, many people in very key military positions argued for the use of that capability at our earliest opportunity. Scary stuff.