Journal of Social Sciences

Nuclear Posture Review: Kahn Vs. Schelling…and Perry

Timothy Sands, Harold Camacho and Richard Mihalik

DOI : 10.3844/jssp.2018.145.154

Journal of Social Sciences

Volume 14, 2018

Pages 145-154


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.


© 2018 Timothy Sands, Harold Camacho and Richard Mihalik. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.