Dirty hands and the supreme emergency
in Supreme emergency
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This book addresses why successive British governments have struggled to sustain public discourse on nuclear weapons policy and strategy. This reflects aversion to debate the conditional willingness to threaten non-combatants, dating back to debates during the First and Second World Wars. Whilst every government since 1915 has been prepared to exploit such strategies, they have been averse to acknowledging them. This is as true of 21st-century nuclear deterrence as it was of strategic bombing in the Second World War. This book explores modern and historical deterrence strategy, the ethics of nuclear deterrence, the public debate about strategic bombing and nuclear deterrence, the effects on public discourse of modern media and the relationship between these elements. In war, government faces a paradox demanding consequentialist judgement, which is difficult for it to portray in public, especially through modern media. Governments therefore avoid the issue and have occasionally lied to the public. This inability to articulate the strategic case for the nuclear deterrent undermines its coherence and increases the risk that decisions on its future may be taken without understanding the strategic imperatives, based on discussions of cost and capability within debate parameters dictated by a vocal minority.

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Supreme emergency

How Britain lives with the Bomb


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