Political Policy Or Nuclear War?

Political Policy Or Nuclear War?

Of all the puzzles which a puzzled Eisenhower-Dulles administration has failed to solve, one of the most important is the proper relationship between military power and foreign policy. It is a difficult problem to grasp, let alone solve, and for once one can have some feeling of sympathy for Mr. Dulles as he broods (we hope) over the question: how do the military facts of our time relate to the political needs of American foreign policy? More exactly, assuming a relationship between military power and foreign policy, what is the effect on our foreign policy of current military ideas? Military power never provides a political solution to political problems. But it may appear to do so, and it is therefore important to understand whether or not we are about to be sold another fancy substitute for the unpleasant necessities of politics.

Today military power is with us more than ever, thanks to the popularity of a new military doctrine—the doctrine of limited nuclear war. What is the validity of this doctrine? What are its implications for the political problems which face American foreign policy?

To put the matter briefly: the doctrine of limited nuclear war makes it possible—is making it possible—to avoid the political facts of life by providing a convenient aura of strength. Our “policy-makers” can then use such a doctrine to pretend to themselves and others that American policy problems are solved because we can “prevent” Russia from taking a piece of land anywhere. To put it still more briefly, the doctrine of limited nuclear war is bunk; but, to paraphrase, bunk must not only be revealed but be seen to be revealed.