Login | Register

The Rockets’ Red Glare: The impact of technology on U.S. nuclear strategy from Eisenhower to Carter


The Rockets’ Red Glare: The impact of technology on U.S. nuclear strategy from Eisenhower to Carter

Gerchicoff, Brent Thomas (2012) The Rockets’ Red Glare: The impact of technology on U.S. nuclear strategy from Eisenhower to Carter. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

This is the latest version of this item.

Text (application/pdf)
Gerchicoff_MA_F2012.pdf - Accepted Version


The Manhattan Project redefined the landscape of international security. The advent of the nuclear age, in many ways, reshaped the prospect of great power politics and the very nature of war itself. While nuclear weapons have altered the security environment, the literature that revolves around the subject is limited to a few select topics: arms control, deterrence, normative assertions on the (im)morality of nuclear weapons, the routines and potential accidents of organizational behaviour, and the boondoggles of ballistic missile defense. The literature fails to address how the technical operating requirements of nuclear weapons affect nuclear strategy.

The research question posed in this thesis is: does technology play an independent role in determining nuclear doctrine? The explanation tested in this thesis is that technology, specifically the technical operating requirements of nuclear weapons drove the American military towards a counterforce-biased doctrine and away from a city-strike strategy. Furthermore, the technical operating requirements were responsible for the move away from Launch on Warning and First Strike doctrines. Technology, as the primary driving factor in the establishment of nuclear doctrine, analysts should be able to make key insights into the highly classified characteristics of a state’s nuclear strategy if they are able to find out the procurement policy of that state’s military. A technology-driven nuclear doctrine warns us about how other states will develop in the future, as they will be reflective of the technical operating characteristics of their assets.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Political Science
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Gerchicoff, Brent Thomas
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Public Policy and Public Administration
Date:29 August 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Schofield, Julian and Bloodgood, Elizabeth
Keywords:Nuclear doctrine, nuclear strategy, military strategy, military doctrine, international security, strategic studies, cold war, technology, US doctrine
ID Code:974935
Deposited On:28 Nov 2016 14:18
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:39


Agrell, Wilhelm. “Offensive versus Defensive: Military Strategy and Alternative Defence,” Journal of Peace Research, vol. 24, no. 1 (Mar., 1987), pp. 75-85.
Allison, Allison and Philip Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, second edition (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1999).
Appleby, Charles A. “Nuclear Strategy at the Crossroads,” SAIS Review, no. 1 (Winter, 1981), pp. 69-82.
Art, Robert J. “To What Ends Military Power?” International Security, vol. 4, no. 4 (Spring, 1980), pp. 3-35.
Ball, Desmond J. “U.S. Strategic Forces: How Would They Be Used?” International Security, vol. 7, no. 3 (Winter, 1982-1983), pp. 31-60.
Ball, Desmond J. Can Nuclear War Be Controlled? Adelphi Paper, Number 169 (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1981).
Ball, Desmond J. “The Counterforce Potential of American SLBM Systems,” Journal of Peace Research, vol. 14, no. 1 (1977), pp. 23-40.
Beres, Louis Rene. “Tilting Toward Thantos: America’s “Countervailing” Nuclear Strategy,” World Politics, vol. 34, no. 1 (Oct., 1981), pp. 25-46.
Betts, Richard K. Soldiers, Statesmen, and Cold War Crises (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1977).
Betts, Richard K. “A Nuclear Golden Age? The Balance before Parity,” International Security, vol. 11, no. 3 (Winter, 1986-1987), pp. 3-32.
Betts, Richard K. Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1987).
Biddle, Stephen. “Strategy in War,” PS: Political Science and Politics, vol. 40, no. 3 (Jul., 2007), pp. 461-466.
Biddle, Stephen. Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).
Bitzinger, Richard A. Assessing the Conventional Balance in Europe, 1945-1975, (Santa Monica, Ca.: 1989).
Borden, William Liscum. There Will Be No Time: The Revolution in Strategy (New York, NY: The Macmillan Co., 1946).
Brenner, Michael. “Decision Making in a Nuclear-Armed World,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 430, Nuclear Proliferation: Prospects, Problems, and Proposals (Mar., 1977), pp. 147-161.
Brodie, Bernard. Strategy in the Missile Age, New RAND edition (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1959, 2007).
Brodie, Bernard. “The Development of Nuclear Strategy,” International Security, vol. 2, no. 4 (Spring, 1978), pp. 65-83.
Brooks, Risa A. Shaping Strategy: The Civil-Military Politics of Strategic Assessment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).
Brown, Harold. Department of Defense Annual Report for FY 1981 (Washington, D.C.: 1980).
Burt, Richard. “Carter Reported to Approve a Plan for Limiting Any Nuclear Warfare,” The New York Times.
Carter, Jimmy. http://www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/documents/pddirectives/pd59.pdf (accessed 26 February 2012).
Carver, Michael. “Conventional Warfare in the Nuclear Age,” in Makers of Modern Strategy: from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, Peter Paret (ed.), (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986).
Cernik, Joseph A. “The Current United States Targeting Doctrine of Nuclear Weapons: An Explanation and Analysis,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 1/2 (Winter-Spring, 1976), pp. 49-64.
Critchlow, Robert D. “Nuclear Command and Control: Current Programs and Issues,” CRS Report to Congress (3 May 2006).
Clausewitz, Carl Von. On War, trans. and ed. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976).
Crawford, Curtis. “Freezing Missile Accuracy,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 62, no. 1 (Fall, 1983), p. 201.
Damms, Richard V. “James Killian, the Technological Capabilities Panel, and the Emergence of President Eisenhower’s ‘Scientific-Technological Elite,’” Diplomatic History, vol. 24, no. 1 (Winter, 2000), pp. 57-78.
Dombrowski, Peter J., Eugene Gholz, and Andrew L. Ross. “Selling Military Transformation: The Defense Industry and Innovation,” Orbis, vol. 46, no. 3 (Summer, 2002), pp. 523-536.
Dombrowski, Peter and Andrew L. Ross. “The Revolution in Military Affairs, Transformation and the Defense Industry,” Security Challenges, vol. 4, no. 4 (Summer, 2008), pp. 13-38.
Doughty, Robert A. The Evolution of US Army Tactical Doctrine, 1946-76 (Fort Leavenworth, KS.: Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College, 1979).
Enthoven, Alain C. and K. Wayne Smith. How Much is Enough? Shaping the Defense Program, 1961-1969, (Santa Monica, Ca.: The RAND Corporation, 1971).
Evans, Michael. “The Primacy of Doctrine: The United States Army and Military Innovation and Reform, 1945-1995,” Army Occasional Paper, no. 1 (August, 1996).
Fearon, James D. “Counterfactuals and Hypothesis Testing in Political Science,” World Politics, vol. 43, no. 2 (Jan., 1991), pp. 169-195.
Feaver, Peter D. “Command and Control in Emerging Nuclear Nations,” International Security, vol. 17, no. 3 (Winter, 1992-1993), pp. 160-187.
Federation of Atomic Scientists http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/navy/submarines/ssbn598gw.html accessed 18 November 2011.
Federation of Atomic Scientists http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/slbm/a-1.htm accessed 18 November 2011.
Federation of Atomic Scientists. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/theater/thor.htm accessed 21 November 2011.
Freedman, Lawrence. The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy (New York, St. Martin’s University Press, 1981, 1983).
Freedman, Lawrence, “The First Two Generations of Nuclear Strategists,” in Makers of Modern Strategy: from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, Peter Paret (ed.), (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986).
Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment, second edition (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005)
Getler, Michael. “Carter Directive Modifies Strategy for a Nuclear War,” The Washington Post, August 6, 1980.
Gilpen, Robert. American Scientists and Nuclear Weapons Policy (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962).
Golden, William T. Science Advice to the President second edition (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2009).
Goldman, Emily O. and Leslie C. Eliason, eds. The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003).
Goldman, Emily O. “Cultural Foundations of Military Diffusion,” Review of International Studies, vol. 32, no. 1 (Jan., 2006), pp. 69-91.
Goldstein, Avery. Deterrence and Security in the 21st Century: China, Britain, France, and the Enduring Legacy of the Nuclear Revolution (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000).
Gray, Colin S. Modern Strategy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
Halperin, Morton H. “The Gaither Committee and the Policy Process,” World Politics, vol. 13, no. 3 (Apr., 1961), pp. 360-384.
Halperin, Morton H. and Priscilla A. Clapp, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, second edition (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006).
Halperin, Morton H. quoted in Gwynne Dyer, “Technology Alone Won’t Win War,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune (November 9, 1981), p.5. Retrieved from http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1755&dat=19811109&id=pkk1AAAAIBAJ&sjid=HWgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6581,4966241 (accessed 27 March 2011).
Horowitz, Michael C. The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010).
Huntington, Samuel P. The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957).
Intriligator, Michael D. and Dagobert L. Brito. “Accidental Nuclear War: A Significant Issue for Arms Control,” Current Research on Peace and Violence, vol. 11, no. 1/2 , Accidental Nuclear War (1988), pp. 14-23.
Jervis, Robert. The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989).
Jervis, Robert. “Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics, vol. 30, no. 2 (Jan., 1978), pp. 167-214.
Jervis, Robert. Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976).
Jockel, Joseph T. Canada in NORAD: 1957-2007: A History (Montreal, Qc.: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007).
Kahan, Jerome H. Security in the Nuclear Age: Developing U.S. Strategic Arms Policy (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, 1975)
Kaplan, Fred. The Wizards of Armageddon (Stanford, C.A.: Stanford University Press, 1991).
Kauffman, Stuart J. “Organizational Politics and Change in Soviet Military Policy,” World Politics, vol. 46, no. 3 (Apr., 1994), pp. 355-382.
Kaysen, Carl. “Strategic Air Planning and Berlin,” National Security Archives, Record Group 218, Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Retrieved at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB56/BerlinC1.pdf (accessed 27 September 2011).
Kennan, George F. Russia, the Atom, and the West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958).
King, Gary, Roberto O. Keohane and Sidney Verba. Designing Social Inquiry: Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1994).
Kissinger, Henry. “Arms Control, Inspection, and Surprise Attack,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 38, no. 4 (Jul., 1960), pp. 555-575.
Lambeth, Benjamin S. “Deterrence in the Mirv Era,” World Politics, vol. 24, no. 2 (Jan., 1972), pp. 221-242.
Lapp, Ralph. Atoms and People (New York, NY: Harper, 1956)
Leites, Nathan. The Operational Code of the Politburo (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1951).
Lemmer, George F. “Air Force and Strategic Deterrence, 1951-1960,” National Security Archive, https://www.hsdl.org/?search&offset=0&submitted=Search&collection=public&so=date&fct&publishermore=true&publisher=United+States.+Air+Force&page=1&creatormore=true&creator=Lemmer%2C+George+F. (Retrieved 15 May 2012).
Lemnitzer, L.L. “Doctrine” on Thermonuclear Attack,” 25 (18 April 1961) CM-190-61. Retrieved from http://www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/NuclearChemicalBiologicalMatters/314.pdf (accessed 13 September 2011).
Levy, Jack S. “Declining Power and the Preventive Motivation for War,” World Politics, vol. 40, no. 1 (Oct., 1987), pp. 82-107.
Levy, Jack S. “The Offensive/Defensive Balance of Military Technology: A Theoretical and Historical Analysis,” International Studies Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 2 (Jun., 1984), pp. 1-24.
Loeb, Larry M. “Jupiter Missiles in Europe: A Measure of Presidential Power,” World Affairs, vol. 139, no. 1 (Summer 1976), pp. 27-39.
McDonough, David S. “Nuclear Superiority or Mutually Assured Deterrence: The Development of the US Nuclear Deterrent,” International Journal, vol. 60, no. 3, Canada in the World: Annual John W. Holmes Issue on Canadian Foreign Policy (Summer, 2005), pp. 811-823.
McDonough, David S. “The Evolution of American Nuclear Strategy,” The Adelphi Papers, vol. 46, no. 383, pp. 13-28.
McNamara, Robert. Letter from Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Kennedy,” FRUS, vol. VIII, doc. 17 (Washington: 20 February 1961). http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d17 (accessed 19 October 2011).
Memorandum, Robert A. Feary, U.S. Department of State Office of European Regional Affairs (RA), to Lane Timmons, Office Chief, RA, “Macmillan Letter.” National Archives, Department of State Records, Record Group 59 (hereinafter RG 59), Decimal Files, 1955-59, 611.61/5-1958.
Memorandum from Goodpaster attached dated 11 June 1959, Top Secret. Dwight D. Eisenhower Library, Anne Whitman File, Dwight D. Eisenhower Diaries, box 42, Staff Notes June 1-15 1959. Found at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB43/doc2.pdf retrieved on 22 September 2011.
Memorandum of Conversation, 7 April 1958. Source: FOIA release. Accessed at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nukevault/special/doc07.pdf retrieved 26 September 2011.
Memorandum of Discussion at the 288th Meeting of the National Security Council, 15 June 1956, FRUS, 1956 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), XIX: 82.
Memorandum of Discussion at the 339th Meeting of the National Security Council, 10 October 1957(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), FRUS, XIX: 146 http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1955-57v19/d146 accessed 21 November 2011.
Memorandum from Secretary of Defense McNamara to President Kennedy, 7 October 1961, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), FRUS, VIII: 51. http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1961-63v08/d51 (accessed 19 October 2011).
Memorandum of Conference with President Eisenhower, 4 May 1960 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), FRUS III: 99.
Memorandum of Conversation, 13 August 1971, 10:05-11:50 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), FRUS, I: 96.
Miettinen, Jorma K. “Mininukes and Neutron Bombs: Modernization of NATO’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons. Introduction of Enhanced Radiation Warheads,” Instant Research on Peace and Violence, vol. 7, no. 2 (1977), pp. 49-58.
Miller, David. Battlefield (London: Brian Todd, 1990).
Morgenthau, Hans J. Politics Among Nations, seventh edition (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2006).
Murray, Thomas. Nuclear Policy for War and Peace (Cleveland, OH: World Publishing Company, 1960).
Notes of NSC meeting, March 4, 1954, FRUS, 1952-54, vol. II.
Polmar, Norman and Robert S. Norris. The U.S. Nuclear Arsenal: A History of Weapons and Delivery Systems Since 1945 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2009).
Posen, Barry R. The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between the World Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984).
Pringle, Peter and William Arkin. SIOP: The Secret U.S. Plan for Nuclear War (New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, 1983).
Record of meeting with President Nixon, 28 July 1970 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), FRUS, XXXIV: 147.
Reppy, Judith. “The Technological Imperative in Strategic Thought,” Review of An Introduction to Strategic Studies: Military Technology and International Relations by Barry Buzan, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 27, no. 1 (Feb., 1990), pp. 101-106.
Rhodes, Richard. Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1995).
Rosenberg, David Alan. “The Origins of Overkill: Nuclear Weapons and American Strategy, 1945-1960,” International Security, vol. 7, no. 4 (Spring, 1983), pp. 3-71.
Rosenberg, David Alan and W.B. Moore. “Smoking Radiating Ruin at the End of Two Hours”: Documents on American Plans for Nuclear War with the Soviet Union, 1954-55,” International Security, vol. 6, no. 3 (Winter, 1981-1982), pp. 3-38.
Sagan, Scott D. “SIOP-62: The Nuclear War Plan Briefing to President Kennedy,” International Security, vol. 12, no. 1 (Summer, 1987), pp. 22-51.
Schelling, Thomas C. Arms and Influence, second edition (New Haven, CT: Harvard University Press, 2008).
Schelling, Thomas C. The Strategy of Conflict (New Haven, CT: Harvard University Press, 1980).
Schofield, Julian. Militarization and War (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
Schilling, Warner R. “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Concepts in the 1970s: The Search for Sufficiently Equivalent Countervailing Parity,” International Security, vol. 6, no. 2 (Fall 1981), pp. 48-79.
Schwartz, Stephen I. Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998).
Schweller, Randall L. “Domestic Structure and Preventive War: Are Democracies More Pacific?” World Politics, vol. 44, no. 2 (Jan., 1992), pp. 235-269.
Slocombe, Walter. “The Countervailing Strategy,” International Security, vol. 5, no. 4 (Spring, 1981), pp. 18-27.
Snow, Donald M. “Strategic Implications of Enhanced Radiation Weapons: a preliminary analysis,” Air University Review, (July-August, 1979), retrieved from http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1979/jul-aug/snow.html accessed 14 August 2012.
Snyder, Glenn. “The Balance of Power and the Balance of Terror,” in Paul Seabury, ed., The Balance of Power (San Francisco, CA: Chandler, 1965).
Snyder, Jack. The Ideology of the Offensive: Military Decision Making and the Disasters of 1914 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984).
Snyder, Jack. “Civil-Military Relations and the Cult of the Offensive, 1914 and 1984,” International Security, vol. 9, no. 1 (Summer, 1984), pp. 108-146.
Steinbruner, John D. “Choices and Trade Offs,” in Managing Nuclear Operations, Ashton B. Carter, John D.
All items in Spectrum are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved. The use of items is governed by Spectrum's terms of access.

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Downloads per month over past year

Back to top Back to top