The Nature and Feasibility of War and Deterrence

by Herman Kahn

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An evaluation of the impact of a thermonuclear war and a description of some of the risks that might cause decisionmakers to weigh the alternatives of whether or not to go to war (namely, genetic problems, postwar medical problems, and long-term recuperation). The kinds of deterrence discussed are (1) deterrence of a direct attack, (2) the use of strategic threats to deter an enemy from engaging in very provocative acts other than a direct attack on the United States, and (3) acts that are deterred because the potential aggressor is afraid that the defender or others will take limited actions, military or nonmilitary, to make the aggression unprofitable.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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