From the mid-1980s through the early 1990s, I devoted my research and writing to the nuclear arms race and nonviolent responses to it. The mid-eighties marked the height of the Cold War. The U.S. and the Soviet Union were locked in an arms race that our government referred to as (I kid you not) “MAD.”
The acronym stood for Mutually Assured Destruction.
The strategic theory behind MAD was that if both nations had enough nuclear bombs to totally annihilate the other country and its inhabitants, then neither nation would push the button—because even after a first strike by one side, the other side was capable of launching a second strike in retaliation. Second strike capability was housed mostly in nuclear submarines that cruised the ocean floors.
By 1988, the U.S. had about 23,5000 nuclear bombs in reserve, the U.S.S.R about 33,000. Overkill, to put it euphemistically. [Read more…]