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Tyler Cowen

Putin’s Nuclear Threat Makes Armageddon Thinkable

With “mutual assured destruction” no longer relevant, the world is desperately in need of a workable doctrine of nuclear deterrence.

July 1946, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

July 1946, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Photographer: Keystone/Hulton Archive

Some of the most consequential changes come upon us silently, almost without notice. The world is in the midst of one right now: Our doctrines of nuclear deterrence are obsolete and in desperate need of an update.

Some history: One of the most famous early concepts in deterrence theory was the doctrine of “Mutual Assured Destruction,” or MAD. Its logic was laid out by Thomas Schelling (a former doctoral advisor of mine), who won a Nobel Prize in economics in large part for his ideas on nuclear strategy.