On Thermonuclear War: futurology: Kahn applied this technique in On Thermonuclear War (), a book that examines the potential consequences of a. Kahn, On Thermonuclear War. John P. Frank. This Book Review is brought to you for free and open access by the Law Journals at UNM Digital Repository. On Thermonuclear War has 97 ratings and 19 reviews. James said: Herman Kahn was the ringleader of a group that came to be known as the megadeath intelle.
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Return to Book Page. On Thermonuclear War by Herman Kahn. On Thermonuclear War was controversial when originally published and remains so today.
It is iconoclastic, crosses disciplinary boundaries, and finally it is calm and compellingly reasonable. The book was widely read on both sides of the Iron Curtain and the result was serious revision in both Western and Soviet strategy and doctrine.
As a result, both sides were better ab On Thermonuclear War was controversial when originally published and remains so today. As a result, both sides were better able to avoid disaster during the Cold War. The strategic concepts still apply: Kahn’s stated purpose in writing this book was simply: Kahn, a military analyst at Rand sinceunderstood that a defense based only on thermonuclear arnaments was inconceivable, morally questionable, and not credible.
The book was the first to make sense of nuclear weapons. Originally created from a series of lectures, it provides insight into how policymakers consider such issues. One may agree with Kahn or disagree with him on specific issues, but he clearly defined the terrain of the argument.
He also looks at other weapons of mass destruction such as biological and chemical, and the history of their use. The Cold War is over, but the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, and the lessons and principles developed in On Thermonuclear War apply as much to today’s China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea as they did to the Soviets.
Paperbackpages. Published July 1st by Routledge first published January 1st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about On Thermonuclear Warplease sign up. Lists with This Book. Aug 28, James rated it it was amazing. Herman Kahn was the ringleader of a group that came to be known as “the megadeath intellectuals.
In their spare time in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, they nibbled away at tidbits such as What ELSE can Afghan famers raise –viably? Kahn looked out over the strategic landscape, took in the view, and deemed hundreds of thousands of casual Herman Kahn was the ringleader of a group that came to be known as “the megadeath intellectuals.
Kahn looked out over the strategic landscape, took in the view, and deemed hundreds of thousands of casualties an acceptable number in a nuclear exahange. This group of men woke up in the morning, looked in the mirror, and saw one fundamental fact: They were paid to think about three problems: How does the US prevent nuclear war?
If the US cannot prevent nuclear war, how does it “win” it? If the US cannot win it, how dos it survive it?
Although it was deemed preferable to the settle things at the Question 1 level, most of these guys had bomb shelters in their back yards. Having studied their game theory at institutions such as MIT, their “solution” was the doctrine of mutually assured deterrence and it’s hardware incarnation, the Poseidon system — a quintissentially Indo-European concept of thermonudlear and example of how our myths mould our strategic cultures.
As some reviewers have noted, not much has changed in the logic of this standoff since the 50s. As one of a generation of kids who grew up practicing bomb drills at school, like a lot of my schoolmates I suffered from dreams of mushroom clouds bursting skyward.
Now, just when the aging members of The nuclear Club tire of the game and even sense its obsolescence among rational players it did nothing for U. Theocratic visions of an Absolute, as Derrida has pointed out, tend to include an Apocalyptic coda. Yet, all our peace rallies, dreams, loving behavior, and international conflicts have, for the last several decades, taken place under a nuclear “umbrella.
We remain entrapped in a Prisoner’s Sar psychology. Are the evolutionary biologists right? Are we hard-wired for war? Members of every faith have, for millennia, spoken of peace and brotherhood.
On Thermonuclear War
Yet, they have never really taken a hard look at belief itself, with its inherent proclivity for producing conflict. It is easy for us to read Kahn and feel self-righteous. Yet, how can we expect nations to live in peace with each other when the truest believers of major faiths do not? Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy summed up the logic by which every religions goes to war, in the following joke: A man was walking across a bridge one day and he saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off and commit suicide.
Are you Muslim, Christian or Jewish? Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi or Maliki?
Many true believers of every faith are caught up in the same logic. That’s the kind of reality check that Khan ate for breakfast. Yet, the Megadeath are tacitly ruled by their deities.
The strongmen of Indo-European mythology were the Sky Gods: Strength is conceived as the overwhelming lightning bolt or trident, as in the Trident sub weapon system announcing itself unexpectedly. Read India’s scripture, the Mahabharata, for instance, for an ancient conceptualization of a doomsday machine.
What really baffled the megadeth intellectuals, their thinking impelled by tacit Indo-European assumptions of strength, was the Taoist concept of strength, based, rather not on the adamant oak and the shock and awe of the lightning bolt, but on the yielding, “feminine”, elusive element of water.
During the Kahn era the Soviets were the only Western nation that had a translation of Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist who wrote of a strategic culture based on the shape of water. It was this same morphology, centuries later, that inspired Mao, who was steeped both in Sun Tzu’s axioms and their applied values in the stories of The Three Kingdoms.
Sun Tzu’s highest principle was that the art of war does not consist of fighting a hundred battles and winning a hundred battles. The art of war consists of overcoming the enemy without fighting.
Strategy and tactics were fluid, avoiding direct confrontation. The Taoist army was hidden. If the enemy does not know where you will strike, the enemy must prepare everywhere, which will eventually exhaust the enemy’s resources. Thus Mao’s emphasis on “hearts and minds,” winning an ocean of support to surround the opponent.
When one American general, talking shop post-war with his Vietnamese counterpart, boasted that the U. It would have been interesting to see what Khan and crew would have come up with had they been nursed on Taoist rather than Indo-European assumptions. As one reviewer has already noted: To which I add, Suggested Antidote: The First and Last Freedomby J. View all 4 comments. Oct 12, John rated it it was amazing.
THE bible on thermonuclear war-fighting. Published in based on the work of The Rand Corporation it is as relevant today as then.
Covers everything from doomsday weapons to accidental nuclear conflict. Also addresses small countries eventually getting The Bomb. Much of the movie Dr Strangelove comes straight out of this tome. It is obvious to the educated that we have been fighting this war every day since the early 50s, this book describes the strategies that all countries involved have bee THE bible on thermonuclear war-fighting.
It is obvious to the educated that we have been fighting this war every day since the early 50s, this book describes the strategies that all countries involved have been following.
Not really true, but by far the optimum way to win. Oct 17, Adam Marsan rated it did not like it.
On Thermonuclear War – Wikipedia
Malefic, impudent, unconscionable consequentialist extremism mocks Eisenhower, preaches preemptive and systematic circumvention of pacifistic foolish, naive as opposed to warmongering responsible, realistic routes, and advocates the use of threats and force and the expansion and entrenchment of a concomitantly autonomous, sovereign state-military-industrial complex as the only reasonable solution to contentious geopolitical relationships with fellow nuclear states.
Profoundly regrettable and Malefic, impudent, unconscionable consequentialist extremism mocks Eisenhower, preaches preemptive and systematic circumvention of pacifistic foolish, naive as opposed to warmongering responsible, realistic routes, and advocates the use of threats and force and the expansion and entrenchment of a concomitantly autonomous, sovereign state-military-industrial complex as the only reasonable solution to contentious geopolitical relationships with fellow nuclear states.
Profoundly regrettable and disgusting pseudo-sapience. Jul 17, Alexander Temerev rated it liked it. So I have finally read it. While it might sounded innovative in its time a nuclear war is not an obligatory mutual destruction!
Perhaps I am not a So I have finally read it. Perhaps I am not a military strategist, but still — the topic is of much interest to me, and I was surprised to encounter such a boring book. Perhaps my expectations were too high. My dad worked with Herman Kahn in a group that came to be known as “the megadeath intellectuals. Kahn looked out over the strategic landscape, took in the view, and deemed hundreds of thousands of casualties an acc My dad worked with Herman Kahn in a group that came to be known as “the megadeath intellectuals.
Not until after my father’s death did I really learn what he had been up to all those years. I had my suspicions: How do we prevent nuclear war?