Nuclear War and Anti-Reason

On its face, any coupling of nuclear war and anti-reason should seem unassailable. What other conclusion could possibly make sense? Could capable scholars or policy-makers ever speak meaningfully of a “reason-based nuclear war”?

 “The rational is not thinkable without its other, the non-rational, and it never appears in reality without it.” -Karl Jaspers, Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (1952)

On its face, any coupling of nuclear war and anti-reason should seem unassailable. What other conclusion could possibly make sense? Could capable scholars or policy-makers ever speak meaningfully of a “reason-based nuclear war”?

Truth is often counter-intuitive. Comprehensively correct answers to complex questions may not be immediately self-evident. Whether we look to North Korea and the United States; India/China/Pakistan; Russia and the United States or Israel versus Iran, it is sensible to conclude that even perfectly rational state adversaries would sometimes favor nuclear risk-taking as a strategic option.[1]

What would be involved in such unique but still-plausible calculations? To answer, each “player” in such time-relevant adversarial scenarios would feel compelled to search for “escalation dominance.” Though any intra-crisis search need not be irrational per se, it could still produce variously unintended outcomes. Whether as a result of computer malfunction or decisional miscalculation, the cumulatively injurious effect of fully rational strategic calculations could prove “irrational.”

A further analytic distinction will need to be made between an inadvertent nuclear war and an accidental nuclear war. By definition, an accidental nuclear war would be inadvertent. Reciprocally, however, an inadvertent nuclear war would not necessarily be accidental.[2] False warnings,[3] for example, which could be spawned by mechanical/electrical/computer error or by malevolent computer hacking,[4] would not signify the start of an inadvertent nuclear war. Instead, these warnings would fit under the more clarifying conceptual narratives of an accidental nuclear war.

What tangible probabilities could be associated with unacceptable outcomes? There is no science-based way to answer such a critical question. In logic and mathematics, probabilities must always be based on the determinable frequency of pertinent past events. Because there has never been a nuclear war (such an event would be unprecedented or sui generis), states searching competitively for “escalation dominance” would have to evaluate all relevant options ad hoc or “by the seat of their pants.” This stark limitation could not possibly be reassuring for any particular state’s strategies of nuclear war avoidance.

There is more. Though reason-based strategies could yield unanticipated nuclear war outcomes, strategies based explicitly on anti-reason could prove more concerning. With such strategies, nuclear conflict would be the result not of national leaders seeking escalation dominance, but of strategic decision-making consciously detached from rationality-driven judgments. As the reductio ad absurdum of an inherently absurd posture, such decision-making could even be wittingly self-destructive.

Nuclear war avoidance should always be based upon science. The discovery of regularities constitutes the beginnings of any science. Significantly, there exists an overriding common thread to war and peace in world politics. This “thread” is the perpetual human struggle between reason and anti-reason, an existential conflict that shows no recognizable signs of any durable resolution. Ultimately, this primal and titanic struggle will prove determinative whether national policy-makers are concerned with war prevention in general or nuclear war prevention in particular.

 Intellectual steps should be taken. A core analytic narrative will need to be fashioned. “Reason,” as we may learn from Karl Jaspers’ Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time (1952) “is confronted again and again with the fact of a mass of believers who have lost all ability to listen, who can absorb no logical argument and who wittingly hold fast to the absurd.” This defiling confrontation has been endlessly and intolerably lethal. Looking ahead, it could readily become “omnicidal.”

What about the “microcosm,” the individual person? What are identifiable human sources of the “macrocosm,” of humankind’s deleterious “mass?” Why should aggregates of anti-reason heighten the prospects of a nuclear war? Why should these hard-to-imagine prospects keep rising even in the absence of decisional irrationality?

Until national leaders prepare to answer these bewildering and interrelated questions, formulaic efforts at nuclear war avoidance will be in vain. In time, though not scientifically verifiable, Israel and Iran will engage in some form or other of nuclear conflict, as will North Korea and the United States; India and Pakistan or India/China.[5] In a conspicuously worst-case scenario, growing disagreements concerning Ukraine and European security could spawn uncontrollable nuclear conflict between the United States and Russia.

What then?

In examining these scenarios, considerations of reason and anti-reason would intermingle with certain bewildering considerations of intra-national decision-making. A great deal will depend on the extent to which national governments (whether already-nuclear or “just” potentially-nuclear) are democratic or authoritarian. In present-day examples involving already-nuclear or soon-to-be nuclear authoritarian regimes, North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran are states where official decision-making would remain more-or-less unaffected by popular views. In these opaque cases, the detachment of vox populi (“voice of the people”) from complex considerations of “high politics” (nuclear war and nuclear peace) would be true by definition.[6]

 There is more. Among major-power democracies such as the United States, mass defections from reason and rationality could “spill over” into sensitive areas of national security decision–making. Today, such a palpable spill-over can even help to explain America’s 2016 election of Donald J. Trump. This election bestowed nuclear war-making authority[7] upon a self-proclaimed champion of anti-reason.[8]  Most worrisome, this American champion of anti-thought (e.g., “nuclear weapons could be helpful against hurricanes”) is waiting confidently for the upcoming presidential election. He could very well be elected again.

 Credo quia absurdum, warned ancient philosopher Tertullian. “I believe because it is absurd.”

Though Donald J. Trump did not exercise a nuclear war option as president, he did allow Kim Jong Un to upgrade and accelerate North Korea’s military nuclear preparations against the United States. Paradoxically, in this “attitude-based geo-political context,[9] a tough-talking but intellectually unprepared President Trump permitted an already-nuclear adversary to become more powerful and more menacing.[10] All this from a president who had bragged of his personal relationship with the North Korean leader. Said Trump in one especially ghastly spasm of incoherence: “We fell in love.”

Looking beyond Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing threats of nuclear war over Ukraine, there could be no more important US national security concern than nuclear war avoidance. Immediately, the United States should more capably refine its reason-based strategies. Among other things, these refinements should involve carefully calibrated nuclear postures ofescalation dominance.[11]

There is more. Regarding these imperative refinements, there will be assorted nuances of meaning. In part, at least, the problem of any viable US national security policy will remain a problem of “will.” Would national adversaries be prepared to abandon reassuring promises of “faith” (including even promises of immortality) in the supposed interests of reason?[12]

One needn’t be a disciplined analytic thinker to answer this query with accuracy and candor. Faith, as we learned earlier from Sigmund Freud, is a conveniently deflecting expression of anti-reason or “wish fulfillment.”[13] There can never be any more rewarding benefit of will than a promise of power over death.[14]

Reason, anti-Reason and Power over Death

At this point it is high time for greater analytic specificity and expanding intellectual nuance. Students of world politics have always been instructed that their subject centers on assorted considerations of “power?” These vague instructions have not been wrong ex hypothesi, but – until now- they have failed to identify the single greatest imaginable form of power.  This is power over death. Such power, prima facie, is intimately intertwined with nuclear matters of war and peace,

What is the overriding “game of nations” in a nuclearizing world?   Nuclear deterrence is a “game” that some world leaders may sometime have toplay. Apropos of this grave responsibility, these leaders could choose to learn the existentially challenging game purposefully or instead deal with it inattentively and inexpertly. In any such contest, calculably self-interested “plays” would be theoretically possible, but all gainful moves would still need to be based upon enhanced capacities for strategic threat assessment.

“Winning” in world politics will not mean what it has meant traditionally. Victory can no longer be about acquiring geopolitical supremacy or hegemony during acutely visceral bouts of competitive risk-taking. Now victory must be about enabling more broadly systemic forms of cooperation and more predictably stable rules of de-escalation.

There is more. Viable global civilization represents a sine qua non for every nation’s physical survival. In the final analysis, however, any such civilization[15] would have to be constructed upon more than some presumptively favorable “balance of power.” Such an organic world civilization would have to be founded upon suitable visions of “cosmopolitanism”[16] or human “oneness.”[17]

Still, even theory-oriented scholars and policy-makers will need to consider practical matters and programs. Though our designated national leaders will likely insist that a proper emphasis on theoretic refinement already obtains, educating flag officers at highly-rated graduate programs will no longer be enough. To wit, nuclear strategic inquiries should become more expressly grounded in refined logic and scientific–method, and less mired in the tortured syntax of an American  leader who claimed to “love the poorly educated.”[18]

Controlling nuclear proliferation will become an increasingly important and potentially overriding national security imperative. Under no circumstances should any capable scholar or policy-maker recommend the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Though such a warning ought to sound perfectly obvious and incontestable, it has not always been this way. Earlier, this fallacy of strategic reasoning had in fact been evident. Then, it was known formally as the “porcupine theory.”[19]

Any endorsements of nuclear proliferation would represent the reductio ad absurdum of strategic misjudgment. Among relevant hazards of strategic decision-making, it would be problematic to assume that nuclear deterrence credibility needs to be positively correlated with any expected magnitude of threat destructiveness. From the standpoint of creating stable nuclear deterrence, the likelihood that any actual nuclear conflict between states could be inversely correlated with the magnitude of catastrophic harms (a counter-intuitive hypothesis) warrants especially close examination.[20]

This is only an “informal” presumption, however, because it would concern a unique event, one of steeply-limited predictive capacity. Because true mathematical probabilities must always be based upon the discernible frequency of relevant past events, events that are sui generis (events such as a nuclear war) could be “predicted” only via non- scientific methods. In principle, no such “predictions” should have any “final” policy-making relevance.

Intentional versus Unintentional Nuclear War

There will be significant bifurcations. Concerning the ascertainable probability of a nuclear war, one derivative understanding should be primary or axiomatic. This understanding stipulates that differences in probability would depend on whether the particular conflict in question would be intentional or inadvertent

A further division should then be made between an inadvertent nuclear war caused by errors in calculation (nuclear war by miscalculation) and one occasioned by accident, computer hacking or computer malfunction. No meaningful scientific estimations of nuclear war likelihood could ever be made apart from such antecedent conceptual distinctions.

As policy foci, air, land and space are all apt to become further militarized and further subject to expanding nuclear warfare preparations.[21] Most expectedly worrisome, in this regard, would be the correspondingly greater risks of nuclear crisis and nuclear conflict, especially a nuclear war spawned by accident or miscalculation.

There is more. Nuclear proliferation has been dealt with by competent nuclear strategists for decades, sometimes by gifted thinkers who already understood that any alleged benefits of nuclear spread would be outweighed by the correlative costs.[22] Most obvious here would be the proliferation-associated risks of inadvertent nuclear war, accidental nuclear war, nuclear war by irrationality/coup d’état or nuclear war by miscalculation.[23]

               For the moment, this remains an unassailable presumption. Foreseeably, it will not change the “Westphalian”[24] system of international relations and international law first bequeathed by formal treaty codifications in 1648. Now, this system of belligerent nationalism remains rooted  in structural anarchy and is being worsened by chaos.[25]

The “Balance of World Power”

Historically, the idea of a balance of power – an idea of which the nuclear-age balance of terror is a variant[26] – has never been more than a facile metaphor. Among other deficits and liabilities, it has never had anything to do with ascertaining a true and calculable equilibrium. And as any such “balance” is always a matter of individual and subjective perceptions, adversarial states can never be sufficiently confident that strategic circumstances are oriented in their favor. In consequence, each side in a Westphalian world order must perpetually fear that it will come out “second best” or be left behind altogether.

Over time, among nation-states, the continual search for balance, though traditionally reassuring, can only produce widening patterns of insecurity, inequality and existential disequilibrium.

               At the start of the Cold War (what the present author now calls “Cold War I”), the United States first began to codify rudimentary orientations to nuclear deterrence and nuclear war. At that simpler time, the world was tightly bipolar and the clear enemy was the Soviet Union. Moreover, tempered by a shared knowledge of the horror that had ceased (temporarily) in 1945, each superpower acknowledged a core need to expand global cooperation (especially via the United Nations) as a necessary adjunct to traditional national conflict preparedness.

With the start of the nuclear age, American national security was initially premised on grimly primal threats of “massive retaliation.” Over time, especially during the Kennedy years, this bitterly corrosive policy was softened by subtler and more nuanced threats of “flexible response.” Along the way, a coherent and generalized American strategic doctrine was crafted, in increments, to more systematically accommodate almost every conceivable kind of adversarial military encounter.

Scientific and historically grounded, this doctrine was developed self-consciously and with very deliberate prudence. In its actual execution, however, much was left to “seat-of-the-pants” calculations. In this regard, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis was a case in point.

Strategic doctrine, as earlier generation “defense intellectuals” already understood,[27] is a “net.” Reasonably, only those who “cast” can expect to “catch.” But even the benefits of “casting” must remain subject to certain specific considerations of individual human personality.

 At differential points of a particular crisis, principal decision-makers will lie beyond any predictive understanding. Then, looking ahead to potential nuclear war threats and crises, the ungraspable individual decision-maker could interact in variously unforeseen ways with other complex factors, possibly creating force-multiplying and previously unseen synergies. What then?

In strategic planning and thinking, there will always be irremediable uncertainties. In the face of such fixed vagaries, the point should be not to prevent them altogether (that would be impossible), but to prepare intellectually for all known and foreseeable contingencies. To accomplish such preparation, explanations should not focus on covering every conceivable explanatory variable, but only on those needed for theory-based understanding.[28]

For a time following collapse of the Soviet Union, the world became increasingly multipolar. Still, we are now witnessing the evolution of a second cold war. This time around, at least in principle, there would likely be more conspicuous points of convergent interest and cooperation between Washington and Moscow. The growing strategic importance of China points toward a genuinely basic change from “tight-bipolarity” to developing forms of tripolarity. In early spring 2024, the expanding nuclearization of China-rival India suggests even more bewildering complexities.

               Details will matter. Together with its war of aggression and genocide against Ukraine, Moscow continues to reinvigorate its production of intercontinental ballistic missiles and ICBM supporting infrastructures. In part, this represents a predictable Russian response toward ongoing fears that America may expand its plans for ballistic missile defense in Europe[29] and (as corollary) that the United States is enlarging NATO blueprints to advance strategies of “encirclement.”

At this fragile moment. worrisome foci are easy to identify. US strategic planners are thinking especially about already-nuclear North Korea and Pakistan and a prospectively nuclear Iran.[30] Among other key  issues,Tehran’s repeated calls for “removing” Israel as a state have been exterminatory;[31] in law, they represent a documented “incitement to genocide.” Military nuclear developments in North Korea, India, Pakistan, China and Iran could sometime prove synergistic. These circumstances would be largely unpredictable and potentially overwhelming.[32]

 There must also be law-based considerations of justice. Nullum crimen sine poena; “No crime without a punishment,” was a key principle of justice reaffirmed at Nuremberg in 1946. This peremptory principle originated in the Hebrew Bible and its derivative Lex Talionis or “law of exact retaliation.”

 Strategic Irrelevance of the Abraham Accords

               Popular viewpoints notwithstanding, the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords will have no discernible effects on nuclear war prevention in the Middle East.[33] If anything, Iran was only made more belligerent by the Accords’ evident intent to diminish Iranian power. Soon, certain major Sunni Arab states (plausibly, Egypt and/or Saudi Araba) could feel compelling new incentives to nuclearize themselves. With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, an already-nuclear Pakistan will likely become more directly influential in the region, including strategic behaviors that stoke existential fears in Delhi. Most worrisome among these behaviors is Islamabad’s open tilt toward smaller counter-force (“war fighting”) nuclear weapons.

In such ambiguous and intersecting cases, there could emerge more-or-less credible issues of enemy irrationality.[34] Regarding such “special” situations, ones wherein leadership elites in Beijing, Islamabad, Delhi, Tehran or elsewhere might sometime value presumed national or religious obligations more highly than national survival, the precarious logic of deterrence could fail. Such failure need not be incremental and manageable. It could, instead, be sudden and catastrophic.[35]

                Any such fearful scenario is “probably improbable,” but it is by no means inconceivable. This hesitancy-conditioned probability calculation is effectively mandated by variously fixed limitations of science. One can never speak reliably about the probability of unique events (all probability judgments must be based upon the determinable frequency of past events). Fortunately, there has never been a nuclear war, but this absence also signals a scientific incapacity to offer usefully meaningful predictions. Relevant ironies here should be as obvious as they would be overwhelming.

Always important for leaders to understand will be possible interactions or synergies between changing adversaries and their particular ties to China, India, Syria and Russia. In managing such strategic threats, a new question should arise: Will “Cold War II” help our steeply imperiled planet or degrade it further? Such queries should always represent intellectual questions, not narrowly political ones. Above all, they would need to be addressed at refined analytic levels.

The Potential Problem of Nuclear Terrorism

 Strategic policies will have to deal with a variegated assortment of sub-national threats of WMD terrorism. Until now, insurgent enemies were sometimes able to confront states with serious perils and in widely assorted theatres of conflict, but they were never capable of posing any catastrophic hazards to a nation’s homeland. Now, however, with the steadily expanding prospect of WMD-equipped terrorist enemies – possibly, in the future, even well-armed nuclear terrorists[36] – humankind could have to face strategic situations that are prospectively more dire.

For the United States in particular, the continuously-unraveling situation in Ukraine portends heightened chances of WMD terrorism, against the American homeland and against certain allies. The adversarial particulars remain unclear, but ISIS-K resurgence/reconstitution and the strengthening of other Islamist groups could also bode ill for rational enemy decision-making. What then?

               To face any such unprecedented security situation, national leaders will need to “arm” themselves with previously-fashioned nuclear doctrines and policies. By definition, any such doctrines and policies ought never represent ad hoc reactions to significant threats. Rather, because generality expresses a trait of all scientific meaning, such doctrines and policies will have to be shaped according to broad categories of strategic possibility. In the absence of such previously worked-out conceptual categories, human leadership responses are certain to prove grievously inadequate.

               We require a concluding thought about synergies: These portentous intersections could occur between military and non-military threats. For example, potentially most ominous would be synergies that arise between nuclear proliferation and disease pandemic. In the conceivably worst case, a man-made “plague” of nuclear war would coincide with a natural plague of pathogens.[37] Naturally, any such “force multiplication” should be avoided by all parties at all costs.

Rationality versus Irrationality

                From the start, all strategic policies have been founded upon some underlying assumption of rationality. Americans have always presumed that their enemies, both states and terrorists, will inevitably value their own continued survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences. But this core assumption ought no longer be taken for granted.

Expressions of decisional irrationality could take various different and overlapping forms. These forms include a disorderly or inconsistent value system; computational errors in calculation; an incapacity to communicate efficiently; random or haphazard influences in the making or transmittal of particular decisions; and the internal dissonance generated by any structure of collective decision-making (i.e., assemblies of individuals who lack identical value systems and/or whose organizational arrangements impact their willing capacity to act as a single or unitary national decision maker).

Confronted with Jihadist enemies,[38] states and terrorists, world leaders must quickly understand that our primary threats to retaliate for first-strike aggressions[39] could fall on deaf ears. This holds true whether the United States would threaten massive retaliation (MAD), or the more graduated and measured forms of reprisal termed nuclear utilization theory (NUT).[40] In the months and years ahead, threatening anti-American terror groups (e.g., Taliban, ISIS-K, Hezbollah, etc.) that “we will hunt down and destroy you” is apt to fall on deaf ears.

 Any sensible. nuclear doctrine should recognize eternally critical connections between law and strategy. From the standpoint of formal international law,[41] certain expressions of preemption or defensive first strikes are known as anticipatory self-defense.[42] Expecting possible enemy irrationality, when would such protective military actions be required to safeguard the fractionated human homeland from diverse forms of WMD attack?  

The Relevance of International Law

               Though usually subordinated to strategy, there are significant jurisprudential issues for decision-makers and commanders. Recalling that international law is part of the law of the United States,[43] most notably at Article 6 of the US Constitution (the “Supremacy Clause”) and at a 1900 Supreme Court case (the Pacquete Habana), how could anticipatory military defense actions be rendered compatible with conventional and customary obligations? This critical question must be raised and answered.

               From the standpoint of international law, it is always necessary to distinguish preemptive attacks from “preventive ones.” Preemption is a military strategy of striking first in the expectation that the only foreseeable alternative would be to be struck first oneself.  A preemptive attack is launched by a state that believes enemy forces are about to attack.  A preventive attack, on the other hand, is not launched out of any genuine concern about “imminent” hostilities, but rather for fear of some longer-term deterioration in a prevailing military “balance.”

                In a preemptive attack, the length of time by which the enemy’s action is anticipated is presumptively very short; in a preventive strike, however, the anticipated interval is considerably longer. A related problem here is not only the practical difficulty of accurately determining “imminence,” but also the implicit problems of postponement. Delaying a defensive strike until an imminent threat would be more tangibly ascertainable could invite existential harms. In any event, any state’s resort to “anticipatory self-defense” could be nuclear or non-nuclear, and be directed at either a nuclear or non-nuclear adversary.

               Any such resort involving nuclear weapons on one or several sides could prove catastrophic.

 Core Matters of Nuclear Targeting and Strategic Doctrine

My late friend and once-frequent co-author, General John T. Chain, a former USAF SAC Commander-in-Chief (CINCSAC) and Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff director (JSTPS), understood that certain world leaders would need to consider and reconsider key issues of nuclear targeting.[44] Relevant operational concerns here would concern vital differences between the targeting of enemy civilians and cities (so-called “counter value” targeting) and targeting of enemy military assets/infrastructures (so-called “counterforce” targeting). Oddly enough, most national leaders likely still don’t realize that the essence of 1950s/1960s “massive retaliation” and “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) was always a plan for counter-value targeting.

 Any such partially-resurrected military doctrine could sound barbarous or inhumane, but if the alternative was to settle for less credible systems of nuclear deterrence, explicit codifications of counter value targeting posture could still represent the best way to prevent millions of civilian deaths (i.e., deaths from nuclear war and/or nuclear terrorism). Neither preemption nor counter-value targeting could ever guarantee absolute security for Planet Earth. Nonetheless, it remains imperative that the United States and other nuclear weapons states put capable strategic thinkers[45] to work on these and all other nuclear warfare issues.[46]

The first time[47] that a world leader has to face an authentic nuclear crisis, his/her response should not be ad hoc. This response should flow seamlessly from broad and previously calibrated strategic doctrine. It follows that national leaders should already be thinking carefully about how this complex doctrine ought best to be shaped and codified.[48] Whatever the particulars, these leaders must acknowledge at the outset the systemic[49] nature of our “world order  problem.”[50]

Any planetary system of law and power management that seeks to avoid a nuclear war must first recognize an underlying axiom:As egregious crimes under international law, war and genocide[51] need not be mutually exclusive.On the contrary, as one may learn from history, war could be undertaken as an “efficient” manner of national, ethnical, racial or religious annihilation.[52] When the war in question is a nuclear one, the argument becomes unassailable.

Global rescue must always go beyond narrowly physical forms of survival. At stake is not “just” the palpable survival of Homo sapiens as a distinct animal life form, but also the species’ essential humanitas, that is, its sum total of individual souls[53] seeking “redemption.”[54] For now, however, too-few species members have displayed any meaningful understanding of this less tangible but still-vital variant of human survival.[55]

Nuclear War Avoidance and Strategic “Dissuasion”

It is time to start worrying again about nuclear war, but worrying won’t be enough. The only reasonable use for nuclear weapons on this imperiled planet will still be as controlled elements of dissuasion, and not as actual weapons of war. Conceptually, the underlying principles of such a rational diplomatic posture go back long before the advent of nuclear weapons. In his oft-studied classic On War (see especially Chapter 3, “Planning Offensives”), ancient Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu reminds succinctly: “Subjugating the enemy’s army without fighting is the true pinnacle of excellence.”

There could be no more compelling strategic dictum. Indeed, this distilled wisdom represents the one big thing for US strategists, commanders and policy-makers to know. In world politics, it would be best not to have any enemies in the first place, but such residually high hopes would lack any coherent intellectual foundation. Always, they would remain unsupportable.

For the United States, potentially unwelcome outcomes in Ukraine do not heighten nuclear warfare prospects per se, but they do suggest a generally widening diminution of American power. Among other things, this correlative diminution could spawn various regional or global crises that bring the United States into a larger ambit of WMD scenarios, portentous narratives involving war and terror. Even if the US were not itself involved in such crises directly, other states or perhaps even the world as a whole could become entangled in extremis atomicum.

What then?

Immediately, to whatever extent possible, national leaders should make all appropriate intellectual and analytic preparations to ward off any nuclear “endgame.” In carrying out this responsibility, careful attention should be directed toward intersecting scenarios of inadvertent nuclear war, narratives pertaining both to accidental nuclear conflict and to nuclear war as the result of leadership miscalculation. Though prospects for an “unreasoned” nuclear war ought never to be downplayed, especially amid ascending global forces of non-rationality[56] and anti-reason, preparations for credible nuclear deterrence should still be maintained at highest possible strategic and tactical levels.

Steadily expanding portents of a nuclear war are presently a conspicuous cause for alarm. At one level, the belligerent rhetoric from Vladimir Putin is starkly reminiscent of “Cold War I”. At another level, however, the harsh posturing of this Russian president signals the continuing expansion of “Cold War II,” a Hobbesian “state of nature”[57] more dramatically unstable than its original iterations back in the late 1940s and the 1950s and 1960s. Furthermore, identifiable risks could all be exacerbated by what Karl von Clausewitz famously called “friction.”

“Friction,” we learned from the 19th century Prussian strategist, means “the difference between war on paper and war as it actually is.”[58] In the present world system, one shifting in increments from anarchy to chaos, this difference could prove more consequential than before. Looking closely, nothing in this fragile system ought to be described as “same as usual.” In a world in which the always-present forces of anti-reason could converge with nuclear weapons technologies, this represents an abundantly “right time” for war avoidance thinking.[59]

What should be the tangible operational correlates of such thinking? The only rational way to respond to this query is by embarking upon a coherent struggle of “mind over mind.” In the end, to “win” the titanic struggle against nuclear war and anti-reason, our planet-wide task will have to be re-conceptualized as a determinedly intellectual one. In any such struggle, both pundits and politicos would need to return to their proper roles in scientific matters. This would mean acting not as presumptive creators of national security policy, but as synthetizing clarifiers of what is most deeply important.[60]

Vladimir Putin’s strident affirmations of nuclear war as potentially rational Russian military policy should be taken with grave seriousness. This is the case even though any Russian first-use of nuclear weapons against the United States or its armed forces could plausibly represent a glaring expression of anti-reason. In the final analysis, anti-reason should never be excluded ipso facto as a potential cause of nuclear war. 

It’s time for a summing-up. There are multiple ways, some of them synergistic, in which both rational and non-rational adversaries could become embroiled in nuclear conflict. Whether in viscerally-inspired increments or as “bolts-from-the-blue,” non-rational adversaries could sometime find themselves driven by the ultimate expression of anti-reason: madness.[61] Here, derivatively, we might also recall the philosophically prophetic sequence of destruction assigned by classical Greek tragedians:

“Whom God wishes to destroy, He first makes mad.”[62]


[1] In studies of world politics, rationality and irrationality have taken on very specific meanings. More precisely, an actor (state or sub-state) is determinedly rational to the extent that its leadership always values national survival more highly than any other conceivable preference or combination of preferences. Conversely, an irrational actor might not always display such a determinable preference ordering.

[2] Reminds Herman Kahn in his On Escalation (1965): “All accidental wars are inadvertent and unintended, but not vice-versa.”

[3] The reciprocal of false warnings would be the actual dangers of a surprise attack. Nuclear theorist Herman Kahn once introduced a subtle distinction between a surprise attack that is more-or-less unexpected and one that arrives “out of the blue.” The former, he counseled, “…is likely to take place during a period of tension that is not so intense that the offender is essentially prepared for nuclear war….” A total surprise attack, however, would be one without any immediately recognizable tension or warning signal. This particular subset of a surprise attack scenario could be difficult to operationalize for tangible national security policy benefit. See: Herman Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable in the 1980s (Simon & Schuster, 1984).

[4] This prospect now includes the plausible advent of so-called “cyber- mercenaries.”

[5] Per verifiable tests conducted during March 2024, India displayed a MIRV capability (multiple and independently-targeted nuclear warheads) on its Agni-5 ICBM.

[6] This detachment is a function of “mass.” From the words of Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung’s, The Undiscovered Self (1957): “The mass crushes out the insight and reflection that are still possible with the individual, and this necessarily leads to doctrinaire and authoritarian tyranny if ever the constitutional State should succumb to a fit of weakness. Similarly, observes Spanish existentialist philosopher Joe Ortega y’Gasset in The Revolt of the Masses (1930): “The mass-man has no attention to spare for reasoning; he learns only in his own flesh.” Though he prefers the term “crowd” to “mass,” the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard shares the core conceptual understanding with both Jung and Ortega y’Gasset that “the crowd is untruth” (see Kierkegaard’s Point of View, “That Individual.”).

[7] See by this author, at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Louis René Beres, https://thebulletin.org/2016/08/what-if-you-dont-trust-the-judgment-of-the-president-whose-finger-is-over-the-nuclear-button/#post-heading

[8] During his tenure in the White House, little attention was directed toward Donald J. Trump’s openly-expressed loathing of science and intellect. Ironically, the Founding Fathers of the United States were intellectuals. As explained by American historian Richard Hofstadter: “The Founding Fathers were sages, scientists, men of broad cultivation, many of them apt in classical learning, who used their wide reading in history, politics and law to solve the exigent problems of their time.” See Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1964), p. 145.

[9] Then-President Trump repeatedly pointed to “attitude” rather than “preparation” as the key to proper US foreign policy making.

[10] See by this author, Louis René Beres: https://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/foreign-policy/344601-opinion-deterring-north-korean-threat-requires-more-than

[11] On “escalation dominance,” see article by Professor Louis René Beres at The War Room, US Army War College, Pentagon:  https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/articles/nuclear-decision-making-and-nuclear-war-an-urgent-american-problem/  See also, by this author, Louis René Beres: https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/united-states-nuclear-strategy-deterrence-escalation-and-war    

[12] See by Professor Beres at Horasis (Zürich): https://horasis.org/realpolitik-and-power-over-death-unceasing-delusions-of-world-politics/

[13] We may also recall Nietzsche’s assertion in Zarathustra that “faith means not wanting to know what is true.”

[14] Modern philosophic origins of “will” are discoverable in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, especially The World as Will and Idea (1818). For his own inspiration, Schopenhauer drew freely upon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Later, Friedrich Nietzsche drew just as freely and perhaps more importantly upon Arthur Schopenhauer. Goethe was also a core intellectual source for Spanish existentialist Jose Ortega y’Gasset, author of the singularly prophetic twentieth-century work, The Revolt of the Masses (Le Rebelion de las Masas;1930). See, accordingly, Ortega’s very grand essay, “In Search of Goethe from Within” (1932), written for Die Neue Rundschau of Berlin on the centenary of Goethe’s death (Goethe died in 1832). It is reprinted in Ortega’s anthology, The Dehumanization of Art (1948) and available from Princeton University Press (1968).

[15] Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung’s definition of civilization in The Undiscovered Self (1957) can be instructive here; it is “the sum total of individual souls seeking redemption.”

[16] The history of western philosophy and jurisprudence contains many illustrious advocates of cosmopolitanism or “oneness.” Most notable among these names are Voltaire and Goethe. We need only recall Voltaire’s biting satire in the early chapters of Candide, and Goethe’s comment (oft-repeated) linking the contrived hatreds of belligerent nationalism to variously declining stages of human civilization. We may also note Samuel Johnson’s famously expressed conviction that patriotism “is the last refuge of a scoundrel;” William Lloyd Garrison’s observation that “We cannot acknowledge allegiance to any human government…Our country is the world, our countryman is all mankind;” and Thorsten Veblen, “The patriotic spirit is at cross-purposes with modern life.” Of course, there are similar sentiments discoverable in Nietzsche’s Human, all too Human and in Fichte’s Die Grundzűge des gegenwartigen Zeitalters.” Finally, let us recall Santayana’s coalescing remark in Reason and Society: “A man’s feet must be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.” The ultimate point of all these cosmopolitan remarks is that narrow-minded patriotism is inevitably “unpatriotic,” at least in the sense that it is not in the long-term interests of citizens or subjects.

[17] “Civilization,” adds Lewis Mumford, “is the never-ending process of creating one world and one humanity.” Still the best syntheses of contemporary creative outlines for a world civilization are W. Warren Wagar, The City of Man (1967) and W. Warren Wagar, Building the City of Man (1971).

[18] The curious mantra “I love the poorly educated,” was repeated several times during the 2016 presidential election campaign by then first-time candidate Donald J. Trump.” Consciously, one may assume, it echoed Third Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels at a Nuremberg rally in 1934: “Intellect rots the brain.” Moreover, it is a mantra that Americans are apt to hear again during the current 2024 campaign.

[19]See, by this author, at Parameters: Louis René Beres: https://press.armywarcollege.edu/parameters/vol9/iss1/7/ Lest anyone think this sort of recommendation is absurd or inconceivable, there is actually a long history of nuclear “porcupines,” strategists and observers who correlate expanding nuclear proliferation with expanding global security.

[20] As part of an always-escalating bravado detached from intellectual moorings, former US President Donald J. Trump favored such vaporous threats as “complete annihilation” or “total destruction” over any dialectically well-reasoned preferences. What once sounded reasonable or “tough” to an anti-intellectual and law-violating American president could only have reduced US nuclear deterrent persuasiveness. During the dissembling “Trump Era,” America’s nuclear security was substantially weakened on multiple and overlapping fronts.

[21] See by this writer, at Air-Space Operations Review (USAF):  Louis René Beres, https://www.airuniversity.af.edu/Portals/10/ASOR/Journals/Volume-1_Issue-1/Beres_Nuclear_War_Avoidance.pdf

[22] Seventeenth-century English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, instructs that although international relations are in a “state of nature,” it is nonetheless a more benign condition than that of individual man in nature. With individual human beings, Hobbes reflects, “the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest.” Now, however, with the advent and probable continuing spread of nuclear weapons, there is no longer any reason to believe the state of nature to be more tolerable.

[23] Also worrisome here are prospects for irrational decision-making by national leaders, including the president of the United States. See, in this connection:  Louis René Beres,  https://thebulletin.org/2016/08/what-if-you-dont-trust-the-judgment-of-the-president-whose-finger-is-over-the-nuclear-button/

[24] See Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct 1648, 1, Consol. T.S. 119.   This “Westphalian” anarchy stands in stark contrast to the legal assumption of solidarity between all states in the presumably common struggle against aggression and terrorism. Such a peremptory expectation (known formally in international law as a jus cogens assumption), is already mentioned in Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis (533 C.E.); Hugo Grotius, 2 De Jure Belli Ac Pacis Libri Tres, Ch. 20 (Francis W. Kesey, tr., Clarendon Press, 1925) (1690); and Emmerich De Vattel, 1 Le Droit des Gens, Ch. 19 (1758).

[25]Although composed in the seventeenth century, Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan may still offer us a vision of this condition in modern world politics. During chaos, which is a “time of War,” says the English philosopher in Chapter XIII (“Of the Natural Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery.”):  “… every man is Enemy to every man… and where the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Still, at the actual time of writing Leviathan, Hobbes believed that the condition of “nature” in world politics was less chaotic than that same condition extant among individual human beings. This was because of what he had called the “dreadful equality” of individual men in nature concerning the ability to kill others. Significantly, this once-relevant differentiation has effectively disappeared with the continuing manufacture and spread of nuclear weapons, a spread soon apt to be exacerbated by an already-nuclear North Korea and by a not-yet-nuclear Iran.

[26] See especially Albert Wohlstetter, “The Delicate Balance of Terror,” 1958.

[27] One thinks here especially here of Thomas Schelling, Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlstetter and Herman Kahn.

[28] Clarification can be found at “Occam’s Razor” or the “principle of parsimony.” In essence, it stipulates analytic preference for the simplest explanation that is still consistent with scientific method. Regarding current concerns for nuclear war avoidance, it suggests, inter alia, that planners not seek to identify and examine every seemingly important variable, but rather to “say the most, with the least.” This presents an important and often neglected cautionary idea. All too often, strategists and planners mistakenly attempt to be all-inclusive, thereby distracting themselves (unwittingly) from forging efficient and suitably “parsimonious” theory.

[29] On related issues of active defense for US ally Israel, see: Louis René Beres and Isaac Ben-Israel (Major-General, IDF/res.), “The Limits of Deterrence,” Washington Times, November 21, 2007; Professor Louis René Beres and Major-General Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iran,” Washington Times, June 10. 2007; and Professor Louis René Beres and Major-General Isaac Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iranian Nuclear Attack,” Washington Times, January 27, 2009.

[30] An Israel-Iran nuclear war could take place even before Iran becomes operationally nuclear. This is because Israel could sometime find itself in conflict with overwhelming Iranian conventional and/or biological forces or with North Korean nuclear forces fired on behalf of a still pre-nuclear Iran. See, at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: https://thebulletin.org/2024/02/wargame-simulated-a-conflict-between-israel-and-iran-it-quickly-went-nuclear/

[31] Israel’s anti-missile defense shield has four overlapping layers: The Iron Dome system for intercepting short-range rockets; David’s Sling for medium-range rockets; Arrow-2 against intermediate-range ballistic missiles; and Arrow-3 for deployment against ICBM’s and (potentially) satellites.

[32]North Korean nuclear-knowhow could impact other regions of the world. In this connection, Pyongyang has had significant nuclear dealings with Syria. Earlier, North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear reactor, the same facility that was later destroyed by Israel in its Operation Orchard, on September 6, 2007. Although, unlike earlier Operation Opera (June 7, 1981) this preemptive attack, in the Deir ez-Zor region, was presumptively a second expression of the so-called “Begin Doctrine,” it also illustrated, because of the North Korea-Syria connection, a wider globalthreat to US ally, Israel. See also: https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-09-06/10-years-later-israels-operation-orchard-offers-lessons-on-north-korea

[33] See https://www.state.gov/the-abraham-accords/ Also to be considered as complementary in this connection is the Israel-Sudan Normalization Agreement (October 23, 2020) and Israel-Morocco Normalization Agreement (December 10, 2020).

[34] Expressions of decisional irrationality could take different or overlapping forms. These include a disorderly or inconsistent value system; computational errors in calculation; an incapacity to communicate efficiently; random or haphazard influences in the making or transmittal of particular decisions; and the internal dissonance generated by any structure of collective decision-making (i.e., assemblies of pertinent individuals who lack identical value systems and/or whose organizational arrangements impact their willing capacity to act as a single or unitary national decision maker).

[35] We may recall here the apt words of “beat poet” Lawrence Ferlinghetti in A Coney Island of the Mind, (1958): “In a surrealist year some cool clown pressed an inedible mushroom button, and an inaudible Sunday bomb fell down, catching the president at his prayers on the 19th green.”

[36] Both Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and Palestinian terror-group Hamas fired rockets at Dimona. Though unsuccessful, Israel must remain wary of the consequences of any future attack that might prove more capable. For early and informed consideration of reactor attack effects in general, see: Bennett Ramberg, DESTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR ENERGY FACILITIES IN WAR (Lexington MA:  Lexington Books, 1980); Bennett Ramberg, “Attacks on Nuclear Reactors: The Implications of Israel’s Strike on Osiraq,” POLITICAL SCIENCE QUARTERLY, Winter 1982-83; pp. 653 – 669; and Bennett Ramberg, “Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel’s Plutonium-Production Reactor,”Arms Control Today,May 2008, pp. 6-13.

[37] Says Albert Camus in The Plague: “It is in the thick of calamity that one gets hardened to the truth – in other words, to silence.”

[38] This brings to mind the issue of Palestinian statehood and nuclear risk, For Israel, the main problem with a Palestinian state would not be that state’s own prospective nuclearization, but rather its generally weakening effect on the Jewish state. Moreover, Islamic Pakistan, which is already nuclear, has been strengthened by the American loss in Afghanistan and could become more expressly risk-tolerant on certain strategic challenges from India.

[39] For the specific crime of aggression under international law, see: Resolution on the Definition of Aggression, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly, Dec. 14, 1974, U.N.G.A. Res. 3314 (xxix), 29 U.N. GAOR, Supp. (No. 31), 142, U.N. Doc. A/9631 (1975), reprinted in 13 I.L.M., 710 (1974).

[40] Conspicuous preparations for nuclear war fighting could be conceived not as distinct alternatives to nuclear deterrence, but as essential and integral components of nuclear deterrence.  Some years ago, Colin Gray, reasoning about U.S.-Soviet nuclear relations, argued that a vital connection exists between “likely net prowess in war and the quality of pre-war deterrent effect.”  (See:  Colin Gray, National Style in Strategy: The American Example,” INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, 6, No. 2, fall 1981, p. 35.)  Elsewhere, in a published debate with this writer, Gray said essentially the same thing:  “Fortunately, there is every reason to believe that probable high proficiency in war-waging yields optimum deterrent effect.”  (See Gray, “Presidential Directive 59: Flawed but Useful,” PARAMETERS, 11, No. 1, March 1981, p. 34.  Gray was responding directly to Louis René Beres, “Presidential Directive 59: A Critical Assessment,” PARAMETERS, March 1981, pp. 19 – 28.).

[41] For the authoritative sources of international law, see art. 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice; done at San Francisco, June 26, 1945. Entered into force, Oct. 24, 1945; for the United States, Oct. 24, 1945.  59 Stat. 1031, T.S. No. 993, 3 Bevans 1153, 1976 Y.B.U.N., 1052.

[42] Normative origins of anticipatory self-defense liein customary international law, especially in The Caroline, a case that concerned the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule. Following The Caroline, the serious threat of armed attack has generally justified certain militarily defensive actions. In an exchange of diplomatic notes between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, then U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster outlined a framework for self-defense that did not require an antecedent attack. Here, the jurisprudential framework permitted a military response to a threat so long as the danger posed was “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” See: Beth M. Polebaum, “National Self-defense in International Law: An Emerging Standard for a Nuclear Age,” 59 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 187, 190-91 (1984) (noting that the Caroline case had transformed the right of self-defense from an excuse for armed intervention into a legal doctrine). Still earlier, see: Hugo Grotius, Of the Causes of War, and First of Self-Defense, and Defense of Our Property, reprinted in 2 Classics of International Law, 168-75 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1925) (1625); and Emmerich de Vattel, The Right of Self-Protection and the Effects of the Sovereignty and Independence of Nations, reprinted in 3 Classics of International Law, 130 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1916) (1758). Also, Samuel Pufendorf, The Two Books on the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law, 32 (Frank Gardner Moore., tr., 1927 (1682).

[43] In the words of Mr. Justice Gray, delivering the judgment of the US Supreme Court in Paquete Habana (1900): “International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction….” (175 U.S. 677(1900)) See also: Opinion in Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (726 F. 2d 774 (1984)).Moreover, the specific incorporation of treaty law into US municipal law is expressly codified at Art. 6 of the US Constitution, the so-called “Supremacy Clause.”

[44] USAF General Jack Chain was this author’s longtime personal friend and frequent co-author on nuclear strategy issues. See, for example: Louis René Beres and John T. Chain (General/USAF/ret.), “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran?”, The Atlantic, August 2012; Professor Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Israel and Iran at the Eleventh Hour,” Oxford University Press (OUP Blog), February 23, 2012; and Beres/Chain at BESA (Israel): https://besacenter.org/living-iran-israels-strategic-imperative-2/(Israel). General Chainalways remained committed to science-based strategies of nuclear war avoidance. He died on July 7, 2021.

[45] Prescribed thinking should generally be dialectical. Dialectical thinking originated in Fifth Century BCE Athens, as Zeno, author of the Paradoxes, had been acknowledged by Aristotle as its inventor. Further, in the middle dialogues of Plato, dialectic emerges as the supreme form of philosophic/analytic method. The dialectician, says Plato, is the special one who knows how to ask and then answer vital questions. From the standpoint of a necessary refinement in US strategic planning, this knowledge should never be taken for granted.

[46]“It must not be forgotten,” writes French poet Guillaume Apollinaire in “The New Spirit and the Poets” (1917), “that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.”

[47] “First time” reference here is to after the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

[48] In regard to such necessary thinking, US strategic planners must inquire accordingly whether accepting a visible posture of limited nuclear war would merely exacerbate enemy nuclear intentions, or whether it would actually enhance this country’s overall nuclear deterrence. Such questions have been raised by this author for many years, but usually in explicit reference to more broadly theoretical or generic nuclear threats. See, for example, Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power: A Theoretical Analysis (1972); Louis René Beres, Terrorism and Global Security: The Nuclear Threat (1979; second edition, 1987); Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and World Order (1984); Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (1986); and Louis René Beres, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (2016).

[49] “The existence of system in the world,” says French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in The Phenomenon of Man, “is at once obvious to every observer of nature, no matter whom….” (1955).

[50] “World order” has its contemporary intellectual origins in the work of Harold Lasswell and Myres McDougal at the Yale Law School, Grenville Clark and Louis Sohn’s WORLD PEACE THROUGH WORLD LAW (1966) and the large body of writings by Richard A. Falk and Saul H. Mendlovitz during the 1960s and 1970s.

[51] See Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, opened for signature, December 9, 1948, entered into force, January 12, 1951, 78 U.N.T.S. 277.

[52] This was almost certainly the case with Germany’s World War II aggressions, crimes oriented very deliberately to Adolph Hitler’s always primary “war against the Jews.” See especially, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews: 1933 – 1945 (1975).

[53] Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both thought of “soul” (in German, Seele) as the intangible essence of a human being, its humanitas. Neither Freud nor Jung ever provided any precise definition of the term, but it was never intended by either in some ordinarily familiar religious sense. For both psychologists, it represented a recognizable and critical seat of mind and passions in this life. Interesting, too, in the present analytic context, Freud explained his predicted decline of American civilization by invoking various express references to “soul.” Freud was disgusted by any civilization so apparently unmoved by considerations of true “consciousness” (e.g., awareness of intellect, literature and history); he even thought that the crude American commitment to perpetually shallow optimism and material accomplishment would inevitably occasion sweeping emotional misery.

[54]This definition of civilization is borrowed from C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self (1957).

[55] Whether it is described in the Old Testament or other major sources of ancient Western thought, chaos can also be viewed as a source of human betterment. Here, in essence, chaos is that which prepares the world for all things, both sacred and profane. Further, as its conspicuous etymology reveals, chaos represents the yawning gulf or gap wherein nothing is as yet, but where all civilizational opportunity must originate. Appropriately, the great German poet Friedrich Hölderlin observed: “There is a desert sacred and chaotic which stands at the roots of the things and which prepares all things.” Even in the pagan ancient world, the Greeks thought of such a desert as logos, a designation which indicates to us that it was presumed to be anything but starkly random or without conceivable merit.

[56] “The rational is not thinkable without its other,” says philosopher Karl Jaspers, “the non-rational, and it never appears in reality without it. The only question is in what form the other appears, how it remains in spite of all, and how it is grasped.” See Karl Jaspers’ Reason and Existence (1935).

[57] Seventeenth century philosopher Thomas Hobbes argues famously that the international state of nature is “less intolerable” than that condition among individuals in nature because, only in the latter, the “weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest.” Nonetheless, with the spread of nuclear weapons, this once plausible difference is very plainly disappearing.  On such developments, see early, by this author, Louis René Beres, The Management of World Power: A Theoretical Analysis, University of Denver, Monograph Series in World Affairs, Vol. 10, No.3., 1972-73, p. 65.)

[58] See by Professor Beres at The War Room (US Army War College):  https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/articles/friction/

[59] A tangible expression of such time is the “doomsday clock” at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

 

[60] See by this writer, Louis René Beres, at Horasis (Zürich):  https://horasis.org/looking-beyond-shadows-death-time-and-immortality/

[61] Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman,” inquires Luigi Pirandello in Henry IV, “with one who shakes the foundations of all you have built up in yourselves, your logic, and the logic of all your constructions? Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather, with a logic that flies like a feather.”

[62] Quem deus vult perdere, dementat prius (most likely, Euripides).

Prof. Louis René Beres
Prof. Louis René Beres
LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. His twelfth and most recent book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (2016) (2nd ed., 2018) https://paw.princeton.edu/new-books/surviving-amid-chaos-israel%E2%80%99s-nuclear-strategy Some of his principal strategic writings have appeared in Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School); International Security (Harvard University); Yale Global Online (Yale University); Oxford University Press (Oxford University); Oxford Yearbook of International Law (Oxford University Press); Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College (Pentagon); Special Warfare (Pentagon); Modern War Institute (Pentagon); The War Room (Pentagon); World Politics (Princeton); INSS (The Institute for National Security Studies)(Tel Aviv); Israel Defense (Tel Aviv); BESA Perspectives (Israel); International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence; The Atlantic; The New York Times and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.