Atomic Diplomacy Essay Research Paper Atomic DiplomacyThe

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Atomic Diplomacy Essay, Research Paper Atomic Diplomacy 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 fundamental assumptions of international diplomacy while propelling itself to the top of the hegemonic stepladder. This positioning was achieved piecemeal 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 unparalleled 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 story of post-war national security without also telling the story of George Kennen. Kennen, the foremost expert of Soviet Affairs in early post-war America, is almost wholly responsible for the policy of containment. Nuclear weapons were part of an integrated system of containment and deterrence. Truman told Kennen in early 1947 that, “Our weapons of mass destruction are not fail-safe devices, but instead the fundamental bedrock of American security”. They were never intended as first strike weapons and had no real tactical value. The

bomb is purely strategic, and its value comes not from its destructive capabilities, 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 destruction could be made to serve rational ends beyond simply deterring the outbreak of hostilities”. Even at this early point, Kennen began to also recognize the potential of the bomb to completely wreck balance of power arrangements. Simply achieving higher potentials of destruction would not necessarily lead to a better negotiating 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. Most of the American national security structure viewed this as fallacious. Truman’s perception was that the United States, as a technology rich, but man power short nation, was operating from a position of weakness, since 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”. The late mistakes of the Truman administration would be carried 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 Eisenhower years stemmed directly from the overconfidence in the U.S. nuclear program to achieve tangible military objectives in the face of increased hostilities. John Foster Dulles, the symbol of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy, began to advocate the nuclear response. The impotence of our standing army compared to