First-strike stability depends on the improbability of crises and the improbability that crises would result in first strikes. This study focuses on the latter criterion, which in turn depends on crisis decisionmaking by human beings. The report argues that efforts to understand and improve first-strike stability should be guided by a formal theory of human decisionmaking that accounts for behavioral factors such as mindset, desperation, fatalism, perceptions, and fears. The author identifies three principal mechanisms for improving first-strike stability: (1) improve force-posture stability; (2) review and adjust nuclear policies and doctrine, and the way they are discussed; and (3) improve the likely quality of crisis decisionmaking through efforts involving education, exercises, and staffing.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.