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At the end of the journey: the risks of Cold War thinking in a new era

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This article examines the justification for the existence of nuclear weapons. For many they were the saviour that brought an implacable foe to its knees in 1945 and held another at bay for nearly a half-century. The belief that superior technology brought strategic advantage, that greater numbers meant strong security, and that the end of containment justified whatever means were necessary to achieve them prevailed. The author was an adherent to this point of view for several years. But these beliefs, Lee Butler contents, have proved dangerous. They account for the most severe risks and most extravagant costs of the US–Soviet confrontation; they intensified and prolonged an already acute ideological animosity; and they continue to entail enormous costs and expose humankind to unconscionable dangers. The author discusses how his convictions have evolved, and concludes that we have no greater responsibility than to bring the nuclear era to a close.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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