Atomic Diplomacy Essay Research Paper Atomic Diplomacy

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Atomic Diplomacy Essay, Research Paper 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 of containment. What we must remember under Kennen’s containment is that nuclear diplomacy is not separate from other national security measures as it is often today. Nuclear weapons were part of an integrated system of containment and deterence. Truman told Kennen in early 1947

that “our weapons of mass destuction are not fail-safe devices, but instead the fundemental bedrock of American security” (Gaddis 56). They were never intended as first strike weapons and had no real tactial value. The bomb is purely strategic, and its value comes not from its destructive capabilties, but from its political and psychological ramifications. Kennen was never naive enough to view the bomb as an offensive weapon. In his long memorandum “The International Control of Atomic Energy,” Kennen noted that “there could be no way in which weapons of mass destuction could be made to serve rational ends beyond simply deterring the outbreak of hostilities” (Kennen 39). Even at this early point, Kennen began to also recognize the potential of the bomb to completely

wreck balance of power arrangments. Simply achieving higher potentials of destruction would not necessiarily lead to a better negotioating position with the Soviets. Truman had never considered not creating the hydrogen bomb, despite Kennen’s objections. Truman’s justified his adamant support of the super bomb for bargaining purposes with the Russians. Kennen’s point, of course, had been that the very decision to build the hydrogen bomb would inhibit bargaining with the Russians on international control, since the Kremlin was unlikely to negotiate from a position of weakness. Most of the American national security structure viewed this as fallacious. Truman’s preception was that the United States, as a technology rich but man power short nation, was operating from a

position of weakness, since of necessity is relied more heavily than did the Soviet Union on weapons of mass destruction to maintain the balance of power. The Soviet atomic test in 1949 had upset that balance. Only by building the super bomb, it was thought, could equilibrium be regained. It would not be until the Kennedy administration that Kennen would be vindicated and an awareness would develop “of the basic unsoundness of a defense posture based primarily on weapons indiscriminately destructive and suicidal in their implications” (Kennen 365). The late mistakes of the Truman administration would be carryed over into the Eisenhower years. Nuclear deployment became the primary American security measure, naturally leading the Soviets to do the same. The problems of the