BRODIE, Bernard. The absolute weapon. 1946
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BRODIE, Bernard. The absolute weapon. 1946


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https://www.osti.gov/opennet/servlets/purl/16380564-wvLB09/16380564.pdf
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o Bernard13rodie,editor%1 ArnoldWolfers
PercyE. Corbett
WilliaznT. R. Fox
Introductionby
FrederickS. Dunn
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New Haven,Connecticut
February1#, 1946
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Yale Instituteof IntcrnationdStudies
FrederickS. Dunn,Dfiector
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TABLEOF CONTENTSc
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The CommonProblem
m
FrederickS. Dunn
Introduction.
PART I.
The Weapon
war in the
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Bernard
AtomicAge
Brodie
ChapterI.
Implicationsfor MilitaryPolicy
w
iernardBrodie
ChapterII.
PARTII. //-,
.,
The AtomicBomb and
m
Soviet-flmericaRelationsChapter
Chapter
111.
wOLCersAKALUJSL
Effecton Internation~Iv.
:,..
,.,..w
percyE. Corbett
PART III.
Control
The InternationalControlof AtomicWeapons
m
WWan T. R. FOX
ChapterV.
<:
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\u2018i# LIntroducti
THE COMMONPROBLEM
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FrederickS. Dunn~\u2019 ~
--70
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fIme Comon probl~, yOWS, II&@, eV~OXle tS,
Is\u2014not to\u201dfancywhat were fair in life
Providedi% couldbe--but,findingfirst
~t may be, then findhow to make it fair
Up to our means:a very differentthing!\u201d
Robert&cmnlng, \u2018lBishopBlougramlsApology~\u2019
Whateverelsethe successfulexplosionof the firstatomicbomb at
Alamagordosignified,it was a victoryof the most startlingand conclusivesort
t
fur scientificresearch. 13ya huge effortof combinedaction,the physical
scientistsand engineershad succeededin compressinginto a mere sliverof time
perhapsseveraldecadesof work h applyingthe energyof the atomto military
purposes.
But havingachievedthis miracle,the scientiststhemselveswere not at all
surethat mankindwas the gainerby theirdesperatelabors. At leastsome of
. them had ardentlyhopedt& theirresearchwould provenothingmore than the
impossibilityof reachingthe goal. On the surfaceof things,the capacityof
.,
atomicenergyfor mass destructionfar exceededany immediatelyrealizablevalue
in enhancing humancomfortand welfare. Moreover,like all physicalforces,i!
was morallyindifferentand couldjust as easilyserveevilpurposesas good.
Unlesssomemeans couldbe foundfor separating out and controllingits powers
of annfilation,the scientists most striktigvictoryof all the threatenedon
balanceto becomethe heaviestblow everstruckagainsthumanity.
About one thingthe physicalscientistshad no doubtwhatever,and thatwas
the surpassingurgencyof the problem. Theypent to extraordinarylengthsto
stir up the publicto a realizationof the magnitudeof the dangerconfronttig
w~rld.
the/ They resortedto etiramund.anetermsto make the non-scientistsee that the
new physicalforcewas reallysomethingdifferent,that it was even a different
kind of difference. If they shinedperhapstoo greata tendencyto expect
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mechanicalanswersto the problemof how to controlthis new and terrifying
force,thatwas understandablesincethey were accustomedto that kind of answer
. in their own field. But in theireffortsto drivehome the urgencyof the
problem,theywere se- a high and importantpurpose.
* members
The more perceptive~of the militaryprofessionwere equallydisturbed,
althoughfor slightlyclifferentreasons. Whatevervaluefor peacet~e uses
. atomicenergymighthave,it had been developedas a weapon of war, and its first
shatteringeffectshad been feltin tlnatsphere. What botheredthe generalsand
admiralsmostwas the startlingefficiencyof this new weapon. It was so.far
a&a3.of the otherweaponsir\u2019destructivepoweras to threatento reduceeventhe
giantsof yesterdayto
was highlymisleading.
6
\u201c,basiccharacterof war
dwarfsize; In fact to speakof it
It was a revolutionaz\u2019y~lopnent
&\u201c\u2019\u201d\u2019\u2019<~\
itself. I-. <i
as justanotherweapon
which alteredthe
[ -+ )
In the pre-atomicdays of the 19@thi&&&ul beenbad enough,but one did
not have to contemplatevery seriouslythe probableannihilationof both victor
and vanquished.l?ow,eventhe strongeststateswere facedwith the prospect
that theymightno longerbe able,by their own strength,to save theircities
from destruction.Not onlymighttheirregularrivalson the same levelbe
equippedwith powersof attackhundredsof times~~eaterthan before,but possi-
bly some of the nations\u2019lowerdown in the power scalemight get hold of atomic
weaponsand alteiithewhole relationshipof greatand small.states. It was
beco~ very hard to see how a tolerablewar couldbe foughtany more.
Unlessatoticwarfsrecouldbe limited,no singlestate,no matterhuw
strongits militsryforcesmightbe, c\u2019ouldbe at all certainto avoidbeing
mortallywoundedin a futurewar. Therewas not and very likelywould not be a
sure defenseagainstatomicattack,or any reliableway of keepingbombsaway
from a nationlsterritory. A greatpowermight,it is true,by buildingup to
the limit
what good
of its strength,have a soocichanceof winninga war in the end,but
was that if in the meantimethe urbanpopulationof the nationhad
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beenwiped out? Ev_m militarymen were beginningto thinkthat perhapsit would
-aE
be a good ideato lookvery carefullyintothe
. atomicwarfare by internationalaction.
In any case it was not the task of either
m
possibilitiesof restricting
.
the physicalscientistor the
militarystrategistto findmeans of subjectingthe new forceto
.
trol. Thatwas clearlya politicalproblem,to be undertakenby
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politicalrelationships. b\u2019 ~:;\cl\u201d ,.c!
effectivecon-
the expertsin
Mter a few earlyflightsof fancy,mostb\u2018~c}he&liticalanalystslapsed
\u201cd .
into a discreetsilenceon the subject. It was quicklyapparentthat they had
been handedone of tinetoughestproblemswhich tinemembersof
everhad to face. The profoundsignifica??ceof atoticenergy
forcecalledfor politicalthtig on a cormnensuratescale.
.
theirguildhad
as a physical
Initialprobings
with the ordinarytools of politicalanalysisbroughtdisappointinglysmallre-
sults. Each sortieinto somepromisingopeningeitherendedup againsta solid
wall or led into anothertangleof seeminglyinsolublepro\u2019blems.No clue could
be foundto a simpleformulawhichwould offerreposeto menismindswhile
openingup new vistasof unruffledprosperity. In fact therewas reasonto
believethatnothingof the sorteverwould be found and that the jobwas one of
arduousand patientexaminationof a wholemosaicof relatedproblems=ending
indefinitelyinto the future.
One was met right at the beginningwith two dilemmasof really@oSing
dimensions.The firstof thesearisesout of the natureof the procedures
availablefor the commonregulationof the actionsof free nations. On the one
hand,any schemefor titernationalcontrolof atomicwarfaremust be put into
effectby voluntaryagreement. Thereis no supremepowerto imposeit from above.
On the otlnerhand, it seemedetireme~ T>robable that.statespossessingbombs
or the capacityto make themwouldvoluntarilyrestricttheirpower to carryon
atomicwarfaremerelyon the promisesof otherstatesto do likewise. Becauseof
the natureof the bomb,any statewhich broke its word and surreptitiously
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manufacturedatomicweaponscouldput itselfin a positionto exertitswilJ over
.
all thosewho kept theirpledge. The more statesobservedthe agreement,