‘War No Longer Has Any Logic Whatever’: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Thermonuclear Revolution

Andrew P. N. Eardmann

in Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb

Published in print April 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294689
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601538 | DOI:
 ‘War No Longer Has Any Logic Whatever’: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Thermonuclear Revolution

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For Eisenhower, it was nuclear weapons’ destructive potential, not the image of a protracted conventional war, that destroyed the ’logic’ of war. He believed that thermonuclear weapons made any notion of victory incoherent. Meaningful defence could then only be deterrence. Facing this new setting, Eisenhower reassessed the dynamics of international relations and altered his behaviour accordingly. During his first three years as president, he relied on the ’Detroit Deterrent’, the belief that the US industrial capacity would enable it to triumph in any such war of attrition. By 1956, however, the combination of thermonuclear weapons and growing Soviet intercontinental delivery capabilities made Detroit Deterrent obsolete in his mind. By the end of his presidency, therefore, superpower relations had begun to operate according to this new logic, the logic of ’thermonuclear revolution’.

Keywords: deterrence; Detroit Deterrent; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Indo‐China crisis; industrial capacity; international relations; Korean War; nuclear weapons; Soviet Union; superpowers

Chapter.  16713 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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