Atomic Diplomacy Revisted: U.S. Nuclear Security Policy, Kennen to Kissenger The emergence of the United States as a dominant party in balance of power equations is a relatively new phenomenon in world history. New military technology coupled with increased global integration has allowed the United States to reinvent the fundemental assumptions of international diplomacy while propelling itself to the top of the hedgemonic stepladder. This positioning was achieved peacemeal during the course of the first two world wars, but it wasn't until the deployment of the atomic bomb that the U.S. assumed its position as a true superpower. The years that followed this unparalled ascension are the most fascinating times in the history of U.S. international relations. Hopefully, an investigation into this atomic diplomacy, along with a balanced analysis of the problems of conceptualizing and implementing containment, will provide insight for our current efforts to devise a workable post-war national security policy. There is no way to tell the sotry of post-war national security without also teling the story of George Kennen. Kennen, the formost expert of Soviet Affairs in early post-war America, is almost wholly responsbile for the policy o
The only continuing reason any nations of the nuclear club still deploy nuclear weapons is to deter hostility from other nations. Kennen was never naive enough to view the bomb as an offensive weapon. sufficent flexibility to respond to Russia with neither escalation or humiliation. Kissenger said in 1968 that "there was now no single decisive index by which the influence of states can be measured" (Kissenger 277). Whatever the answer, we can say with relative confidence that it had nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Kissenged has pinpointed the reason early in the war: "Nuclear weapons, given the constraints on their use in an approaching era of parity, were of decreasing practical utility" (Kissenger 29). The peaceful end to the crisis had shown that none of these concerns lay beyond the capacity of a "flexible response" strategy now validated by the test of practical experience. Nuclear weapons were part of an integrated system of containment and deterence. This asymmetry makes it attractive for Communists to apply limited debilitating pressures upon us in situations where we find it difficult to impose on them an equivilent price for their intrusions (Rostow 173). Truman had never considered not creating the hydrogen bomb, despite Kennen's objections. Later, Henry Kissenger would point out that in no crisis since 1962 had the strategic balance determined the outcome. Vietnam was starting for real, and the constant deployment of U.