Chapter

Bear any burden? John F. Kennedy and Nuclear Weapons

Philip Nash

in Cold War Statesmen Confront the Bomb

Published in print April 1999 | ISBN: 9780198294689
Published online November 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601538 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198294689.003.0006
 Bear any burden? John F. Kennedy and Nuclear Weapons

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Kennedy's reliance on non‐nuclear assets and flexible response overshadowed his reliance on nuclear weapons, just as his nuclear restraint eclipsed recklessness. This is not surprising in view of the national security strategy Kennedy chose and the concerns about nuclear weapons he had. It is surprising, however, in light of the profound alarm with which Kennedy and most Americans viewed the Soviet threat; the frequency and intensity of the international crises Kennedy faced; and the widely acknowledged superiority of the US nuclear arsenal. Against this backdrop of threat, crisis, and strategic superiority, it is striking how small an active role nuclear weapons played in Kennedy's foreign policy.

Keywords: arms control; Cuban Missile crisis; deterrence; flexible response; foreign policy; John F. Kennedy; national security; nuclear weapons; Soviet Union; USA

Chapter.  10185 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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