by Toby Gill

Madness. Or, more precisely, M.A.D.ness. This is the doctrine which has governed foreign policy among major powers for the last half a century: ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ – the idea that the possession of nuclear arms is, in of itself, the ultimate deterrent against aggression from other nuclear armed powers.

It is the reason why the UK is willing to continually bankrupt itself keeping its Trident system running. It is the reason why, in the Cold War, the US and Soviets tolerated one another pouring funding into nuclear missiles, but mutually agreed to ban investment in systems to defend against nuclear missiles, as they were too dangerous. It is the reason why many International Relations experts believe that additional nuclear weapons could actually make the world a safer place. M.A.D. is the key to understanding the ecosystem of superpowers, in the Cold War and beyond.

There is, of course, only one problem – we have no idea whether it really works.

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