American Foreign Policy

American Foreign Policy PS 123/PACS 130
Spring 2003
Monday and Wednesday 4-5:30
4 LeConte
Professor Crawford
202 Moses Hall
Office Hours: M 10-11:30


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Lecture 13 Mad, Coffin, and the NutsI.

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Film “Thirteen Days”
  • Why the Cuban Missile Crisis?
  • Bay of Pigs and repeated invasions of Cuba—dominance of the “roll-back strategy”
  • Kennedy’s strategic buildup of forces
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis was not resolved by America's nuclear superiority
  • conventional superiority
  • diplomacy
  • Did US foreign policy makers learn anything?
  • Nuclear Superiority is useless against an enemy who can retaliate
  • The “eyeball” myth
  • The “calibrated brinkmanship” myth


  • What are Nuclear Weapons?
  • How many does the US have?
  • Implications for Foreign Policy
  • Cannot be used to win wars against those who can retaliate
  • Numbers do not count
  • States cannot provide security for their citizens with nukes
  • Purpose of war changes
    The MAD policy position: Containment by necessity
  • Weapons can only be used for retaliation therefore
  • They must be invulnerable to a first strike
  • They must be aimed at “soft” targets
  • They do not have to be precise
  • They cannot defend, or be used for offense: they can only deter
  • This is New
  • New Fears
  • MAD Definition and Significance
  • MAD Flaws
  • Not credible—a bluff?
  • Cannot assure national security
  • Inflexible
  • Vulnerability problems
  • Building more weapons destabilizes
  • Codifying MAD: The ABM Treaty
  • COFFIN: The escape from MAD
  • A Hawk strategy advocated by NUTs
  • Make Nukes like conventional weapons
  • Preemptive nuclear war is necessary
  • NAC 68
  • Kill hard targets
  • Accuracy, speed, readiness, reliability: MARV, MIRV, MK 12, SIG, NAVSTAR, Cruise Missiles, Stealth Bombers, ASW, ABM, Civil Defense, MX
  • COFFIN Flaws
  • Destabilizing –First Strike instability. First Strike incentive
  • Requires Missile Defense: Likely to be imperfect
  • The Dove Strategy
    Focuses on flaws of both MAD and COFFIN
  • Arms control
  • No missile defense
  • NPT