On Oct. 30, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved NSC resolution 162/2, which set the terms and strategy for the use of nuclear weapons by the United States.
Since atomic bombs were used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan, ending World War II, there has been ongoing debate about the use of nuclear weapons in future conflicts. To date, neither then United States nor any other country has done so. One of the reasons is that the strategy first articulated in 1953 anticipates massive destruction of all parties in an exchange of nuclear weapons. In essence, it guarantees that both sides lose. An frequent theme in films about nuclear war has been whether humans are capable of carrying out their orders, when those orders imply the destruction of civilization as we know it. The film Crimson Tide illustrates the emotion that would be present as such decisions are made.
- Do you believe that the world is safer, now, since the end of the Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union? Why do you or do you not feel safer?
- There are several more nuclear powers in the world today, than were present in 1953. China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Britain, France, and a few others have nuclear weapons. Several other countries are seeking to build then and/or expand their capabilities. How important do you think it is to limit membership in the “nuclear club”?
- What events do you think might cause the start of a nuclear war today?
Charles Levy. 9, Aug. 1945, Atomic Cloud Rises over Nagasaki, Japan. [Digital photograph]. Retrieved from U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain <commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56719>.