Nautilus

Why Hasn’t the World Been Destroyed in a Nuclear War Yet?

In broadest terms, the danger facing the world is that the superpowers have institutionalized a major nuclear showdown.Photograph by U.S. Army Photographic Signal Corps / Wikipedia

When opposing nations gained access to nuclear weapons, it fundamentally changed the logic of war. You might say that it made questions about war more cleanly logical—with nuclear-armed belligerents, there are fewer classic military analyses about morale, materiel, and maneuverings. Hundreds of small-scale tactical decisions dissolve into a few hugely important large-scale strategic ones, like, What happens if one side drops a nuclear bomb on its nuclear-armed opponent?

Using a dangerous weapon like a nuclear bomb can of course provoke dangerous responses. If one country crosses the nuclear line, what will its opponent do? What will its allies,

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