AUTHORBurr, William / Kimball, Jeffrey
TITLENixon's Nuclear Specter: The Secret Alert of 1969, Madman Diplomacy, and the Vietnam War
PUBLISHERUniversity Press of Kansas
CITYLawrence, KS

This well researched book presents former U.S. President Richard Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, as proponents of a “Madman Theory” that sought to frighten the Soviets and North Vietnamese into thinking that the United States was ready to react radically to the situation in Vietnam. In October 1969, President Nixon ordered the U.S. military to carry out global exercises designed to alert the Soviet Union, North Vietnam’s major sponsor, that the U.S. was preparing its air and naval forces for any incidents that might result if the president should decide to escalate the war against North Vietnam. The October alert was secret, known only to a few high-ranking officials, and meant to alarm the Soviets with the possibility that the United States might use nuclear weapons irrationally. The authors provide the background leading up to this threat, a description and analysis of the alert and the strategy behind it, and the Soviet and North Vietnamese response. The book also considers how the madman theory has persisted in U.S. defense policy.

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