Living with nuclear weapons: avoiding nuclear war

by Preston Niblack

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This paper is the text of a presentation at the Crossroads Peace Institute's Peace Weekend, Palos Verdes, California, June 23, 1989. The author reviews the role of nuclear weapons as tools of diplomacy that have prevented a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. He points out that avoiding a premeditated nuclear war is only half the problem. The other half is avoiding a war that arises out of the political and operational dynamics of a confrontation between the two superpowers. The author suggests that, because peace and war are both political conditions, peace is not an automatic result of a reduction in weapons. We can and should seize opportunities to reduce the risks of war by creating mechanisms and procedures to increase understanding and communication between the two superpowers and between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

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