Theories of ‘Brinkmanship’ and ‘Deterrence’!
Even before the armistice in Korea was signed, the Cold War had begun to intensify resulting in conflicts and wars in other regions.
The US foreign policy during this period was dominated by John Foster Dulles who was the US Secretary of State from 1953 to 1959.
He considered the US policy of “containment” of communism as inadequate and advocated a more aggressive policy of “rolling back” communism by “liberating” people from what he considered communist tyranny. He advanced some dangerous doctrines.
One of these was called “massive retaliation” which meant the use of nuclear weapons. The other was the doctrine of “brinkmanship” which meant pushing the Soviet Union on the brink of war to force her to grant concessions. He claimed that “the ability to get to the verge of war without getting into war” was “the necessary art” for a statesman and that “if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost”.
During this period, the race for armaments had reached a new stage. In November 1952, the US tested her first thermonuclear bomb, popularly known as the Hydrogen Bomb. The Soviet Union followed soon after in August 1953.
The destructive power of these weapons was hundreds and thousands of times more than the atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki The doctrine of “brinkmanship”, when the two antagonistic powers possessed these weapons, was fraught with danger for the very survival of humanity.
However, the development of these weapons was sought to be justified by the doctrines of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and Nuclear Deterrence. The former meant that countries possessing these weapons would not go to war because they knew that even if they succeeded in destroying the enemy country with the use of these weapons, the other side would also succeed in destroying its enemy country.
The acronym MAD reflected the true nature of this doctrine. The second doctrine meant that the possession of nuclear weapons by a country was a ‘deterrent’ to any possible invasion by another. It was the belief in this doctrine that led Britain to develop her “independent deterrent” in 1957. France and China later followed suit.