Research Article Open Access

Nuclear Posture Review: Kahn Vs. Schelling…and Perry

Timothy Sands1, Harold Camacho2 and Richard Mihalik3
  • 1 Stanford University, United States
  • 2 San Diego State University, United States
  • 3 University of Texas, United States


The 2018 American Nuclear Posture Review includes a revived emphasis on deployed, low-yield nuclear options to reserve credible deterrence against countries that have transmitted beliefs the U.S. would not respond to employment of non-strategic nuclear weapons, since there is a mistaken perception that the U.S. could only respond with high-yield strategic weapons, which would be deemed unacceptable. An important question to address is whether the Review increases the likelihood of American first-use of nuclear weapons or alternatively nuclear responses to provocations. This research briefly evaluates this development in light of the enduring theoretical debates in the literature concluding the possible potential to lower the threshold for first-use and responses with these weapons, while identifying active mitigation efforts. This sequel manuscript evaluates the Review in the context of classical theories of Kahn and Schelling, following the prequel comparisons to Waltz and Sagan. The implications both contextual analyses demand investigation of nuclear terrorism as recently espoused by former defense Secretary, now Stanford professor Bill Perry. This final analysis concludes this manuscript. Taken together, these first theoretical analyses initiate a modern nuclear debate in the literature.

Journal of Social Sciences
Volume 14 No. 1, 2018, 145-154


Submitted On: 6 April 2018 Published On: 30 April 2018

How to Cite: Sands, T., Camacho, H. & Mihalik, R. (2018). Nuclear Posture Review: Kahn Vs. Schelling…and Perry. Journal of Social Sciences, 14(1), 145-154.

  • 3 Citations



  • Low-Yield
  • Nuclear Posture Review
  • Escalation
  • De-Escalation
  • Rational Actor
  • Organizational Theory
  • Nuclear Deterrence