Essay on Mutually Assured Destruction: in Theory and Practice

5273 Words May 5th, 2008 22 Pages
By definition Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy in which full-scale use of nuclear weapons by both sides would effectively result in the destruction of both side. It is not a complicated concept. An elementary school child could understand that the two biggest kids in the class don't openly brawl because both would suffer unacceptable damage as well as put third parties in the danger of the crossfire. The concept of MAD is not the complicated part; it is everything else that pertains to it that has baffled policy makers and theorists for generations. Mutually Assured Destruction is a complex but precarious balance that dominated the Cold War Era. The stability can easily be disrupted by actions taken by …show more content…
The last aspect of MAD is a set of assumptions that must prove true for countries to remain deterred. There are three types of assumptions pertaining to mutually Assured Destruction: "Perfect Rationality", "Perfect Detection", and "Inability to Defend". Perfect Rationality implies that anyone who has the power to launch or detonate a missile must be of sane mind in order to be deterred. This means that no rogue leaders, commanders, or nations will attain control of nuclear weapons or they will stop rogue behavior and succumb to the theory of deterrence. In addition, perfect rationality requires that leaders care about the survival of their subjects and will not act under the belief they will be rewarded in an afterlife for dieing in a nuclear holocaust. 27
Perfect Detection means that there will be no errors in equipment that would falsely identify (or fail to identify) a strike from the other side. In addition, perfect detection require there is no possibility of camouflaging a launch, no alternate means of delivery other than by missile, and that the country being attacked would always be able to correctly identify the attackers.
Lastly, assumptions are made based off an inability to defend. It is assumed that no country would be able to defend against a nuclear strike or would launch a preemptive strike in belief they could defend against the retaliation. These assumptions include scenarios that are likely to prove false and as such are the bulk of the…

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