information warfare 1
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
  MUTUAL ASSURED DESTRUCTION






This was the infamous Cuban missile crisis of the early 1960s, an episode that is described in the book, "Games for Business and Economics" (Gardner, 1995) with the diagram above. (link)






From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (link) :


* 1 Theory
* 2 Criticism
* 3 History
. 3.1 Pre-1945
. 3.2 Early Cold War
. 3.3 Late Cold War
. 3.4 Post Cold War
* 4 MAD as official policy
* 5 See also
* 6 External links

Mutual assured destruction (MAD) is the doctrine of military strategy in which a full scale use of nuclear weapons by one of two opposing sides would result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. It is based on the theory of deterrence according to which the deployment of strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons. It is also cited by gun control opponents as the reason why crime rates sometimes tend to be lower in heavily armed populations. See also Switzerland, whose comprehensive military defense strategy has prevented potential enemies from attempting invasions, even during World War II. The strategy is effectively a form of Nash Equilibrium, in which both sides are attempting to avoid their worst possible outcome--Nuclear Annihilation.


Theory

The doctrine assumes that each side has enough weaponry to destroy the other side and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate escalation resulting in both combatants' total and assured destruction. It is now generally assumed that the nuclear fallout or nuclear winter would bring about worldwide devastation, though this was not a critical assumption to the theory of MAD.

The doctrine further assumes that neither side will dare to launch a first strike because the other side will launch on warning (also called fail-deadly) or with secondary forces (second strike) resulting in the destruction of both parties. The payoff of this doctrine is expected to be a tense but stable peace.

The primary application of this doctrine occurred during the Cold War (1950s to 1990s) in which MAD was seen as helping to prevent any direct full-scale conflicts between the two power blocs while they engaged in smaller proxy wars around the world. It was also responsible for the arms race, as both nations struggled to keep nuclear parity, or at least retain second-strike capability.

Proponents of MAD as part of U.S. and USSR strategic doctrine believed that nuclear war could best be prevented if neither side could expect to survive (as a functioning state) a full scale nuclear exchange. The credibility of the threat being critical to such assurance, each side had to invest substantial capital even if they were not intended for use. In addition, neither side could be expected or allowed to adequately defend itself against the other's nuclear missiles. This led both to the hardening and diversification of nuclear delivery systems (such as nuclear missile bunkers, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear bombers kept at fail-safe points) and to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This MAD scenario was often known by the euphemism "nuclear deterrence" (The term 'deterrence' was first used in this context after World War II. Prior to that time, its use was limited to juridical terminology).


Criticism

Critics of the MAD doctrine noted that the acronym MAD fits the word mad (in this context, meaning insane) because it depended on several challengable assumptions:

* Perfect detection
- No false positives in the equipment and/or procedures that must identify a launch by the other side. The implication of this is that an accident could possibly end the world (by escalation)
- No possibility of camouflaging a launch
- No alternate means of delivery other than a missile (no hiding warheads in an ice cream truck for example)
- The weaker version of MAD also depends on perfect attribution of the launch. (If you see a launch from the Sino-Russian border, whom do you retaliate against?) The stronger version of MAD does not depend on attribution. (If someone launches at you, end the world.)
* Perfect rationality
- No rogue states will develop nuclear weapons (or, if they do, they will stop behaving as rogue states and start to subject themselves to the logic of MAD)
- No rogue commanders will have the ability to corrupt the launch decision process
- All leaders with launch capability care about the survival of their subjects
- No leader with launch capability would strike first and gamble that the opponent's response system would fail
* Inability to defend
- No shelters sufficient to protect population and/or industry
- No development of anti-missile technology or deployment of remedial protective gear. In fact, the development of effective missile defense would render the MAD scenario obsolete, because destruction would no longer be assured.



History


Pre-1945

Echoes of the doctrine can be found in the first document which outlined how the atomic bomb was a practical proposition. In March 1940, the Frisch-Peierls memorandum anticipated deterrence as the principal means of combatting an enemy with uranium weapons.


Early Cold War

In August, 1945, the United States ended World War II with the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Four years later, on August 9, 1949, the Soviet Union developed its own nuclear weapons. At the time, both sides lacked the means to effectively use nuclear devices against each other. However, with the development of aircraft like the Convair B-36, both sides were gaining more ability to deliver nuclear weapons into the interior of the opposing country. The official nuclear policy of the United States was one of "massive retaliation", as coined by President Eisenhower, which called for massive nuclear attack against the Soviet Union if they were to invade Europe.

It was only with the advent of ballistic missile submarines, starting with the George Washington class submarine in 1959, that a survivable nuclear force became possible and second strike capability credible. This was not fully understood until the 1960s when the strategy of mutually assured destruction was first fully described, largely by United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

In McNamara's formulation, MAD meant that nuclear nations either had first strike or second strike capability. A nation with first strike capability would be able to destroy the entire nuclear arsenal of another nation and thus prevent any nuclear retaliation. Second strike capability indicated that a nation could promise to respond to a nuclear attack with enough force to make such a first attack highly undesirable. According to McNamara, the arms race was in part an attempt to make sure that no nation gained first strike capability.

An early form of second strike capability had already been provided by the use of continual patrols of nuclear-equipped bombers, with a fixed number of planes always in the air (and therefore untouchable by a first strike) at any given time. The use of this tactic was reduced however, by the high logistic difficulty of keeping enough planes active at all times, and the rapidly growing role of ICBMs vs. bombers (which might be shot down by air defenses before reaching their targets).

Ballistic missile submarines established a second strike capability through their stealth and by the number fielded by each Cold War adversary - it was highly unlikely that all of them could be targeted and preemptively destroyed (in contrast to, for example, a missile bunker with a fixed location that could be targeted during a first strike). Given their long range, high survivability and ability to carry many medium- and long-range nuclear missiles, submarines were a credible means for retaliation even after a massive first strike.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union truly developed an understanding of the effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine forces and work on Soviet ballistic missile submarines began in earnest. For the remainder of the Cold War, although official positions on MAD changed in the United States, the consequences of the second strike from ballistic missile submarines was never in doubt.

The multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) was another weapons system designed specifically to aid with the MAD nuclear deterrence doctrine. With a MIRV payload, one ICBM could hold many separate warheads. MIRVs were first created by the United States in order to counterbalance Soviet anti-ballistic missile systems around Moscow. Since each defensive missile could only be counted on to destroy one offensive missile, making each offensive missile have, for example, three warheads (as with early MIRV systems) meant that three times as many defensive missiles were needed for each offensive missile. This made defending against missile attacks more costly and difficult. One of the largest U.S. MIRVed missiles, the LG-118A Peacekeeper, could hold up to 10 warheads, each with a yield of around 300 kilotons - all together, an explosive payload equivalent to 230 Hiroshima-type bombs. The multiple warheads made defense untenable with the technology available, leaving only the threat of retaliatory attack as a viable defensive option.

In the event of a Soviet conventional attack on Western Europe, NATO planned to use tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union countered this threat by issuing a statement that any use of nuclear weapons against Soviet forces, tactical or otherwise, was grounds for a full-scale Soviet retaliatory strike. In effect, if the Soviet Union invaded Europe, the United States would stop the offensive with tactical nuclear weapons. Then, the Soviet Union would respond with a full-scale nuclear strike on the United States. The United States would respond with a full scale nuclear strike on the Soviet Union. As such, it was generally assumed that any combat in Europe would end with apocalyptic conclusions.


Late Cold War

The original doctrine of U.S. MAD was modified on July 25, 1980 with U.S. President Jimmy Carter's adoption of countervailing strategy with Presidential Directive 59. According to its architect, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, "countervailing strategy" stressed that the planned response to a Soviet attack was no longer to bomb Russian population centers and cities primarily, but first to kill the Soviet leadership, then attack military targets, in the hope of a Russian surrender before total destruction of the USSR (and the USA). This modified version of MAD was seen as a winnable nuclear war, while still maintaining the possibility of assured destruction for at least one party. This policy was further developed by the Reagan Administration with the announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative (known derisively as "Star Wars"), the goal of which was to develop space-based technology to destroy Russian missiles before they reached the USA.

SDI was criticized by both the Soviets and many of America's allies (including Margaret Thatcher) because, were it ever operational and effective, it would have undermined the "assured destruction" required for MAD. If America had a guarantee against Soviet nuclear attacks, its critics argued, it would have first strike capability which would have been a politically and militarily destabilizing position. Critics further argued that it could trigger a new arms race, this time to develop countermeasures for SDI. Despite its promise of nuclear safety, SDI was described by many of its critics (including Soviet nuclear physicist and later peace activist Andrei Sakharov) as being even more dangerous than MAD because of these political implications.


Post Cold War

The fall of the Soviet Union has reduced tensions between Russia and the United States and between the United States and China. Although the administration of George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in June 2002, they claim that the limited national missile defense system which they propose to build is designed only to prevent nuclear blackmail by a state with limited nuclear capability and is not planned to alter the nuclear posture between Russia and the United States. Russia and the United States still tacitly hold to the principles of MAD.


MAD as official policy

Whether or not MAD was ever the accepted doctrine of the United States military during the Cold War is largely a matter of interpretation. The term MAD was not coined by the military but was, however, based on the policy of "Assured Destruction" advocated by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the 1960s. The U.S. Air Force, for example, has retrospectively contended that it never advocated MAD and that this form of deterrence was seen as one of a number of options in U.S. nuclear policy. Former officers have emphasized that they never felt as limited by the logic of MAD (and were prepared to use nuclear weapons in smaller scale situations than "Assured Destruction" allowed), and didn't deliberately target civilian cities (though they acknowledge that the result of a "purely military" attack would certainly devastate the cities as well).

MAD was certainly implied in a number of U.S. policies, though, and certainly used in the political rhetoric of leaders in both the USA and the USSR during many periods of the Cold War. The differences between MAD and a general theory of deterrence, the latter of which was certainly embodied in both rhetoric and technological decisions made by the U.S. and USSR, varies more along the lines of strictness of interpretation than they do categorical definitions.

See also

* Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
* Doomsday clock
* Doomsday device
* NUTS (Nuclear Utilization Target Selection)
* Cold War* Strategic Defense Initiative
* Launch on warning* moral equivalence
* Essence of Decision, a book which disputes the MAD doctrine
* game theory
- Herman Kahn
* nuclear disarmament
* nuclear strategy
* Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP)
* RAND Corporation
* weapon of mass destruction
* Balance of terror
* Suicide weapon
* Nuclear missile defense
* Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, a famous 1964 Stanley Kubrick film that satirizes the MAD situation.
* Red Alert, the Peter George book upon which Dr. Strangelove is based.
* Fail-Safe, a second film that takes a more-serious view of the MAD situation.
* WarGames, presented MAD by juxtaposing human fear with computed game theory
* Stanislav Petrov, Soviet colonel who may have averted World War III
* Force de frappe

  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, a nuclear war averting incident during the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Military doctrines


  • External links

    * In the Shadow of MAD, an article critical of the idea of MAD as US policy.
    * Herman Kahn's Doomsday Machine
    * Excerpts of Gorbachev-Reagan Reykjavik Talks, 1986 (regards SDI as a threat to MAD)
    * Robert McNamara's "Mutural Deterrence" speech from 1962
    * Nuclear Files.org Mutual Assured Destruction

  • 20 Mishaps That Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War



  • Categories: Cold War | Nuclear strategies | Nuclear weapons | Nuclear warfare | English phrases | Military doctrines | Political neologisms







     
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  • "The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or money. It’s run by little ones and zeros, little bits of data. It’s all just electrons.... There’s a war out there ... and it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think, it’s all about information."
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