The Development of American Nuclear Strategy in the Cold War

Open Access
Lapole, Lucas Ryan
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Richard Butler, Thesis Supervisor
  • Catherine Wanner, Honors Advisor
  • Susan Rose, Faculty Reader
  • nuclear war
  • cold war
  • nuclear strategy
American nuclear strategy underwent several major phases of development, and I will examine the development of American nuclear strategy during the Cold War. I intend to show the interrelatedness of technological advances and policy decisions. I begin with the birth of American nuclear strategy during the Truman Administration. Then, Eisenhower’s policy of “massive retaliation” will be examined. This is followed by a chapter on the modes of strategic thought exemplified by the RAND Coproration, and the infiltration of RAND thought into the Kennedy and Johnson administrations via Robert McNamra. The relationship between Détente, nuclear strategy, and nuclear technology composes the fourth chapter. The fifth and final chapter concerns the transformation of nuclear strategy during the Reagan Administration, and concludes with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.