When Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb appeared in 1964, many saw the wheelchair-ridden doctor, with his involuntary Nazi salutes, as an obvious caricature of Wernher Von Braun, the wartime German rocket scientist. Others heard echoes of Herman Kahn, enfant terrible among defense intellectuals, who’d burst upon the public scene with On Thermonuclear War and Thinking About the Unthinkable.

A nuclear war, Kahn argued, would certainly mean an increase of human tragedy, but “the increase would not preclude normal and happy lives for the majority of survivors and their descendants.” Further, he continued, “We can imagine a renewed vigor among the population with a zealous, almost religious, dedication to reconstruction, exemplified by a 50- to 60-hour work week.” Mathematician James R. Newman, reviewing one of Kahn’s books, called it “a moral tract on mass murder: how to plan it, how to commit it, how to get away with it, how to justify it.”

Kahn’s views are actually quite representative of the thinking of nuclear strategists, however, both then and now. Since the end of World War II, men have devoted themselves to thinking about how to fight a nuclear war. Fred Kaplan’s book–aptly titled The Wizards of Armageddon–describes the RAND Corporation, a dominant section of this profession. Kaplan notes that Kahn was not “fundamentally different from the other RAND strategists whose ideas inspired him”–only his flamboyant propensity for going public distinguished him.

RAND (an acronym for “research and development”) was created by the U.S. Air Force to do research, under contract, for this new fourth branch of the military–a branch whose power was in large part built around the new weapon, the nuclear bomb. (The Air Force was made an independent service shortly after the Strategic Air Command was created as custodian of the bomb.) Using newly developed mathematical game theory and systems analysis, RAND originated many of the concepts and catchphrases that still dominate nuclear strategy–“first strike/second strike,” “the ladder of escalation,” “counterforce targeting,” and “nuclear warfighting” were all terms developed at RAND during its heyday in the 50s.

It’s easy to view such exercises in “thinking the unthinkable” as simply perverse intellectual games, like the contemporary computer game of Global Thermonuclear War. (“Each player selects a weapons system to develop,” say the instructions. “Escalation continues until one player starts the conflict. . . . Program will ask for target.”) Yet nuclear arsenals and plans for their use have been developed on the basis of such “exercises.” It’s one of the merits of another recent book, by Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod, that the authors concentrate on just such concrete plans and policies, not abstract strategy.

The past several years have seen almost an explosion of information concerning past U.S. nuclear war plans. A mass of hitherto-inaccessible material, particularly from the 1950s, has been declassified; other documents have been leaked to journalists. Kaku and Axelrod draw much of this material together in To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans. “These secret documents,” the authors state in summary, “demonstrate in detail that, contrary to public statements and widespread popular belief, in periods of crisis the Pentagon has indeed threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Third World nations and has seriously considered launching a first strike on the Soviet Union.”

Kaplan tells the story of Bernard Brodie, in 1945 a young academic naval warfare expert who, upon seeing the newspaper accounts of the bombing of Hiroshima, turned to his wife with the words, “Everything that I have written is obsolete.” Brodie went on to become one of the first of Kaplan’s “wizards,” an expert in the theory of nuclear war.

At first Brodie, like others, saw the bomb as a force that made military strategy virtually obsolete. It was “the absolute weapon” (the title of a 1946 book he edited) against which defense was impossible; the numerical superiority of one of two nuclear adversaries would mean little if each could wipe out the other’s cities; deterrence was the only rational military policy. “Thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars,” Brodie wrote in that book. “From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them.”

With the onset of the cold war, however, at a time when the U.S. had the bomb and the Soviets didn’t, he began to see things differently. The new situation, Brodie wrote in 1948, “requires appraisal of the atomic bomb as an instrument of war–and hence of international politics–rather than as a visitation of a wrathful deity.” He began to study questions of nuclear strategy–such as what targets to select–and was soon invited to the Pentagon as an Air Force consultant. From there it was only a short step to the RAND Corporation, where Brodie became a fixture.

Thinking in practical terms about the use of atomic weaponry led Brodie in two directions, both growing out of the enormously augmented destructive capacity of the new hydrogen nuclear bomb (the H-bomb) in the early 50s: the annihilation of cities became both easier and more suicidal–all-out war began to appear once again a no-win apocalypse. One answer, Brodie (and others) thought, was to use nukes against troops and tanks rather than cities–“bring the battle back to the battlefield,” as one study put it. Thus was born the concept of tactical nuclear weapons, that is, weapons to be used on the battlefield rather than to strike at the adversary’s heartland. These tactical nukes were not necessarily “little”–in fact Brodie’s idea was to use H-bombs, reasoning that they would eliminate the perennial problem of locating precisely the enemy forces’ position in order to bomb them; the new weapon would destroy everything over a wide area.

Brodie’s second idea was variously known as the counterforce or no-cities strategy–targeting airfields, missile sites, and the like rather than cities. The advantages of such a strategy, in theory, were that, (a) if no cities were struck, the Soviet Union would be less likely to strike back against U.S. cities; (b) the Soviet Union would be less capable of responding in any form because so much of their nuclear capacity would have been destroyed; and (c) with Soviet cities in effect held hostage, targeted by reserve U.S. forces, the Soviets could be forced to capitulate. This too, then, was a way of using nuclear weapons to actually fight and win a war, not to deter it.

When we think along these lines, we can envision various stages for the use of nuclear weapons, from the explosion of one or two on the battlefield to an all-out intercontinental exchange. Herman Kahn worked out an elaborate scheme along these lines with 44 “rungs of escalation,” starting with “Barely Nuclear War” and “Constrained Disarming Attack” and ending with “Spasm or Insensate War.”

But since this last would be suicidal, a warfighting strategy had to control the process of escalation, using some of the lower rungs but avoiding the highest. In fact the aim had to be not just controlling but dominating each rung, as well as the process itself. The theory was thus called escalation dominance.

If you can show you dominate at the next level of escalation, you can coerce your opponent into doing what you want in the present–that’s the essence of the doctrine. Daniel Ellsberg (well known for deliberately leaking in 1971 the Pentagon Papers) in the 50s had been one of the brightest of the bright young men at RAND, one of the few civilians permitted to study in detail U.S. nuclear war plans. More recently, Ellsberg has described the theory and practice of escalation dominance as follows:

“It is not the case that U.S. nuclear weapons have simply piled up over the years . . . unused and unusable. . . . Again and again, generally in secret from the American public, U.S. nuclear weapons have been used, for quite different purposes: in the precise way that a gun is used when you point it at someone’s head in a direct confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.”

The strategy is coercion through threat. Various levels of menace (and various types of weapons) are needed to threaten realistically in varied situations.

Paul Nitze is an investment banker who has been in and out of various presidential administrations since the late 1940s, and who specializes in defense, particularly of the nuclear variety. He’s the author of an influential 1950 national security memorandum (NSC-68) that mandated vastly greater military outlays in order to meet the Soviet threat and “to foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish”; he also wrote the blue-ribbon Gaither Committee’s 1957 report Deterrence and Survival in the Nuclear Age, which recommended greatly increased production of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as well as deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe (to meet, of course, the Soviet threat). Kaku and Axelrod quote Nitze’s 1984 Alerting America, in which he explained another facet of escalation dominance: “To have the advantage at the utmost level of violence helps at every lesser level.”

In other words, although dominance is desirable at every discernible rung on the escalation ladder, dominance at the top, at the level of full-scale nuclear war, has the greatest importance. But to achieve such ascendancy, nuclear strategists have seen the same necessities as any football coach: a good offense and a good defense. Offense is most important: the ability to take out the adversary whenever desired–what Kahn used to call a “credible first strike capability” (and later modified to “not incredible counterforce first strike capability”). The capacity to launch a devastating first strike against the Soviet Union has always been integral to U.S. nuclear strategy.

On the other side are various forms of civil defense, including fallout shelters and city evacuation plans. To quote the irrepressible Kahn again, “Any power that can evacuate a high percentage of its population to protection is in a much better position to bargain . . . ” A credible first strike capability requires that at least some of the citizenry can be safeguarded against a second strike. Programs to provide protection thus become part of the threat, an aspect of the effort to achieve escalation dominance. “The whole purpose of the [civil defense] system,” according to Kahn, “is to enable the U.S. to take much firmer positions” in both hot and cold wars.

It’s a world that’s more than strange, the world of nuclear strategy–a world in which civilian protection is part of a monstrous threat, in which a strategy of sparing cities and targeting weapons is evidence of an intention to strike first, in which megatonnage and megadeaths are equally engineering problems, and in which mass murder is assimilated to game theory.

Of course, one might say, all of this is just theoretical. But is it? In fact the theories themselves sprang from real-world actions. Just as the RAND Corporation was the Air Force’s think tank, so were the ideas above born of actual U.S. policies and procedures in the atomic age.

The United States has used nuclear arms on numerous occasions. Since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, administration after administration, in various international crises, has made nuclear threats and preparations to carry them out–23 documented instances stretching (coincidentally enough) from Iran in 1946 to Iran in 1980. (In 1946 the U.S. forced the Soviet Union out of northern Iran using atomic threats–“We’re going to drop it on you,” Truman is supposed to have told Soviet foreign minister Gromyko. In 1980, during the year following the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, President Carter repeatedly threatened a nuclear response to any Soviet moves in the Persian Gulf.) In 1954–a hot year in the cold war–both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council recommended the use or threat of nuclear weapons no less than six times (once against the Soviet Union, three times against China, and twice to stave off the French defeat in Vietnam).

This is escalation dominance in practice. First strikes have also been practically, cold-bloodedly, planned. In the late 40s and 50s the United States formulated a succession of war plans (with names like Pincher, Broiler, and Shakedown) whose aim was, in the words of a contemporary source, to reduce the USSR to “a smoking, radiating ruin at the end of two hours.” The means: an all-out preemptive nuclear strike.

The very variety of nuclear weapons is a prime symptom of the intention to use them. The widely accepted justification for nukes is that we have them only to deter a “potential aggressor” from using them against us, not to use them ourselves. But the number and variety of weapons argue against this rationale. If the object were simply to deter the Soviet Union from launching a nuclear strike against the United States, it would probably be enough to be able to wipe out, say, the 100 largest Soviet cities, containing a quarter of the population and half the industry of the USSR (this is the definition of deterrence given by Robert McNamara in the late 60s when he was secretary of defense). Yet the U.S. has nearly 100 times more nukes than would be necessary to accomplish this sanguinary objective. Robert Aldridge, a former missile engineer turned antinuclear activist, puts it like this:

“It would seem that 400 deliverable hydrogen bombs would provide an adequate deterrent. More than this number, however, are carried on only two Poseidon submarines. The total US weapons stockpile contains over 30,000 nuclear warheads. . . . A strategic force of this size does not make sense if the US doctrine is, indeed, to retaliate against cities under a deterrence policy.”

But then, pure deterrence of this sort has not been the official policy of the United States for nearly 15 years. In the last part of 1973, a top secret document was drafted under the aegis of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and signed by President Nixon in January 1974: Planning the Employment of Nuclear Weapons, generally known as National Security Decision Memorandum #242. NSDM-242 called for “a more flexible nuclear posture,” one that “does not preclude U.S. use of nuclear weapons in response to conventional aggression.” The idea was to use nukes, not just to hold them in readiness. And to control, or dominate, any process of escalation, according to NSDM-242, the U.S. must have the ability to “(a) hold some vital enemy targets hostage to subsequent destruction by survivable nuclear forces, and (b) permit control over the timing and pace of attack execution.”

In short, this was a doctrine for fighting, not deterring, nuclear wars. James Schlesinger, secretary of defense at the time, consolidated the new policy in April 1974 with Policy Guidance for the Employment of Nuclear Weapons and the associated Nuclear Weapons Employment Policy (NUWEP-1). This turn towards increased flexibility and actual nuclear warfighting capabilities is often known as the Schlesinger Doctrine. Many of the concepts involved had been developed at RAND–holding certain targets “hostage” by not destroying them right away but threatening to do so later, keeping options flexible, and of course dominating escalation. James Schlesinger, who had been at RAND during much of the 1960s, was the first “defense intellectual” to become secretary of defense–a fact Kaplan interprets as the coming to power of the RAND-developed theories.

Certainly NSDM-242 and the Schlesinger Doctrine began a trend that continues to the present day. Jimmy Carter promised a reduction of nuclear weapons (sometimes even down to zero) and a drastic revision of nuclear policy. In practice, he issued a series of presidential directives culminating in PD-59, which called for greater flexibility of nuclear warfighting plans and increased targeting of Soviet command and control facilities. It also required that U.S. forces be able to endure a protracted nuclear war (lasting months instead of a few days).

As one pair of commentators put it, “Instead of a world of smaller arsenals, Carter left Ronald Reagan with all the defense plans and all the presidential orders in place to carry out his harder line toward the Soviet Union and more aggressive nuclear stance.” The Reagan administration had only to proclaim publicly that a nuclear war is fightable and survivable, and to make official the military goal of “prevailing” in a protracted nuclear war.

Now in one sense all this wasn’t new even in 1973. Of course, deterrence had been the official American policy–deterrence through what came to be called during the Kennedy years “mutually assured destruction” (MAD for short). But it’s another story at the level of actual military planning and operations. Listen, for instance, to General David C. Jones, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replying in a 1979 congressional hearing to a question about MAD: “I do not subscribe to the idea that we ever had it as our basic strategy. . . . I agree that there were some, including some in government, who have felt that all we required is a mutually assured destruction capability. I am separating that from our targeting instructions to the field, approved by the civilian authorities, which always included targeting military targets.”

No matter what the rhetoric, simple deterrence has never been the basis of U.S. nuclear policy. But there was a real shift in 1973-74, just as there had been previous changes in strategy and orientation. Broadly speaking, the nuclear era has had three main periods, each characterized by a different predominating strategy:

1945/47 – 1958/60: Massive Retaliation (or as Kaku and Axelrod characterize it, massive preemption). This strategy, articulated by Eisenhower’s secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, was to threaten the USSR with the massive use of nuclear weapons if the Soviets “misbehaved.” In this period, America exploited its clear nuclear superiority on numerous occasions in “hot spots” around the world–from Berlin to Korea to Indochina. Also during this period the U.S. repeatedly planned massive preemptive strikes against the Soviet Union; the data presented by Kaku and Axelrod indicate that these plans were not implemented for fear that Soviet armies would be able to overrun Europe despite the bombs and, later, that Soviet bombers would be able to retaliate against the U.S. on one-way missions.

1958/60 – 1972/74: Mutual Assured Destruction. This strategy assumed that the enormous, and balanced, destructive power of nuclear weapons would prohibit their use. Ironically, though, the Kennedy administration began by criticizing massive retaliation in the name of flexibility and counterforce targeting–much as NSDM-242 did some 13 years later. This initial stance was much criticized, however, as showing a first-strike intention (why target missile sites and airfields if you weren’t intending to hit them before the missiles and bombers left?). After a few years, as the Soviet capacity to retaliate grew stronger, Secretary of Defense McNamara began to call the U.S.-USSR standoff “mutual assured destruction.” Although the basic war plans (including counterforce and first-strike options) did not change, the shift to MAD as official policy did seem to suggest that war with the USSR was not imminent. As one historian of nuclear strategy puts it, “The shift was in stressing the avoidance of war rather than the avoidance of cities within war.”

1973/4 – present: Nuclear Warfighting. From Nixon’s NSDM-242 through Carter’s PD-59 to Reagan’s SIOP-6, the new strategy has been to make concrete plans for fighting a nuclear war (SIOP stands for “Single Integrated Operational Plan”–the actual master nuclear targeting and war plan). In this era, we prepare to fight and win the nuke war, as some of Reagan’s more unguarded associates have put it. Apparently war with the USSR has come to seem imminent.

Although Carter made big steps in this direction (including the defense budgets and projections of his last two years), his public image was conciliatory, not bellicose. The Reagan administration came in virtually trumpeting the prospect of nuclear war–from which, one Reagan appointee declared, the U.S. could recover in a matter of two to four years. “It would be a terrible mess,” predicted another, “but it wouldn’t be unmanageable.” Secretary of Defense Weinberger averred that the new administration would build up U.S. capability “for deterring or prosecuting a global war with the Soviet Union [italics added],” creating what Deputy Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci III called a “nuclear-war-fighting capability.” (Carlucci is now national security adviser, having replaced John Poindexter when the latter was forced to resign in the wake of the Iran-contra arms deal disclosures.) Even Energy Secretary James B. Edwards got into the act, declaring that in a nuclear war, “I want to come out of it number one, not number two.” After a year or so, public outcry made it advisable for officials to tone down their remarks, but policies remained the same.

Reagan’s Star Wars project (the Strategic Defense Initiative, or as the administration tried to nickname it, the “Peace Shield”) is presented as a purely defensive measure that the Soviets oppose out of pure spite. Many Star Wars opponents have argued that the “missile shield” can never be totally effective, but some (including Kaku and Axelrod) point out that, in strategic terms, the antimissile system envisions a U.S. first strike–it would be of little use against a massive missile onslaught (as in a Soviet first strike), but it might be the ideal protection from a Soviet “ragged response” following a U.S. first strike that had taken out most of their missiles. Like civil defense systems and the targeting of weapons instead of cities, the “peace shield” is really part of the preparation for a preemptive nuclear attack.

“I’ve just signed legislation which outlaws the Soviet Union. The bombing starts in five minutes.” From quips to policy statements, from secret war plans to the public battle for Star Wars, the Reagan administration has left little doubt about its preoccupation with the subject. The possibility of nuclear war seemed very real in the 1950s; it seems to have become so again. Why then and why now?

For Fred Kaplan, the events of the last ten years represent simply the triumph of the RAND theories: “Fundamentally, there was nothing new about PD-59. It was merely an elaboration of NSDM-242, which grew out of the Foster Panel, which was explicitly based on McNamara’s SIOP-63 guidance of 1961-1962, which was modeled on a decade of analysis at RAND. . . . By the time Jimmy Carter . . . left office, then, every tenet of RAND philosophy was set in place as official U.S. policy.”

In Kaplan’s formulation, the pure idea triumphs over any actuality, such as weapons technology or social change. By the time of the Reagan administration, “the ‘new generation’ . . . had taken over completely. In the absence of any reality that was congenial to their abstract theorizing, the strategists in power treated the theory as if it were reality.” It seems more likely, however, that because RAND had devoted itself to theories about fighting nuclear war, when Washington wanted to really investigate nuclear warfighting, it naturally turned to those theories.

A less “ideal” theory, often found among historians of nuclear strategy, is that the technology of the weapons themselves determines the strategies. Kaku and Axelrod, for example, say that “the First Era of the arms race . . . was largely shaped by the introduction of one weapon, the nuclear-armed, long-range bomber. The Second Era . . . was shaped by the ICBM. Today, in the Third Era . . . we are witnessing a technological upheaval, the simultaneous introduction of a whole galaxy of first strike weapons: precision-guided missiles, robot self-maneuvering warheads, killer satellites, laser cannons, killer submarines, etc.”

But why would bombers necessarily mean massive preemption? And intercontinental missiles mean mutual destruction only if both sides possess them, and in roughly equal balance. So it’s hard to see how the weapons themselves can dictate the changing strategies. It’s true that improvements in accuracy during the 1970s, combined with greater missile mobility and multiple-warhead missiles (each warhead independently targetable–they’re called MIRVs), have made counterforce targeting, and therefore a first strike, far more feasible. But B-52 bombers, or the ICBMs of the 1960s, can equally well be first-strike weapons under the “right” conditions, and were often thought of as such.

No, there must be something besides the changing weapons dictating strategy. And in fact Kaku and Axelrod do offer an additional explanation–in effect the mirror image of Kaplan’s. They see a constant push for war with the Soviet Union from some quarters (certain generals in the Pentagon and others in the national security bureaucracy, and behind them, members of elite groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and of course the Committee on the Present Danger). In the past these hawks have been deterred from an attack on the USSR only by certain practical uncertainties about attack mechanisms and by the threat of Soviet retaliation; in the near future, Kaku and Axelrod say, with superaccurate missiles and the defensive shield of Star Wars, “the weapons are finally catching up to the strategy.” Rather than a new strategy at last gaining dominance (as in Kaplan’s view), the strategy is timeless and new weapons simply provide the opportunity for it to be carried out.

This is a pretty common view among those who are alienated from the status quo–a view of war-mad generals and behind-the-scenes elites, motivated by blind hatred of the Russkies. But this irrational vision of history is not very intellectually satisfying. In a way, it’s a comforting point of view–just get rid of those power-mad Dr. Strangeloves and our problems will be over. But if it’s simply a question of a few crazies, why can’t the sane, decent people just eliminate them from positions of power? And why have these men in high places conceived their unreasoning enmity for Russia in the first place? It just doesn’t all fit.

The most intellectually satisfying explanation I’ve found for the history of the arms race and nuclear strategy is in a relatively obscure pamphlet published by a small radical group. C. Clark Kissinger, in The Compulsion for Mass Murder: First Strike and the Military Realities of Nuclear War, makes all the pieces fit together–and a very frightening picture it makes.

One of the pamphlet’s explanations parallels Kaku and Axelrod’s: the winning strategy is a first strike, and Star Wars must be seen as part of that, a defense against a retaliatory second strike. But although this topic is the one emphasized by the title, it’s not Kissinger’s main point; “the military realities of nuclear war” for him require explanations of why the war plans exist and why they’ve taken the forms they have.

Kissinger sees both the United States and the Soviet Union as imperialist powers, engaged in massive contention for control of the world. While in the past the two may have been able to work around each other or at times even collude in exploiting the third world, the present period “finds imperialism running up against the limits of accumulation and interimperialist rivalry intensifying, with the contradiction between the U.S.-led and Soviet-led imperialist blocs now becoming principal.” Generalized global economic crisis forces the two up against each other: each needs a reorganization of the world’s resources in its own favor but continually finds the other power blocking its way. Breaking through this barrier means war.

Thus the recent intensified nuclear warfighting activity, theoretical and practical, is not the result of RAND theories, nor of technological advances in weaponry, nor of mad militarists or a senile president. It is the rational response to the economic crisis facing the United States as an imperialist power.

Kissinger also provides an explanation for the turning points in U.S. nuclear strategy since 1945. A pivotal consideration for him is the changing nature of the Soviet social structure, from socialism to an imperialist form of capitalism in the late 1950s. “The first period,” he says, “from approximately 1947 to 1958, was shaped principally by the contradiction between the imperialist bloc and the socialist camp. The second period, running approximately from 1959 to 1972, is marked by the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union and the shift of the principal contradiction to that between imperialism and the oppressed nations.” (Kissinger derives this periodization from a 1984 book by Raymond Lotta, America in Decline.) Nuclear strategy follows from this political-economic dynamic: massive retaliation is the strategy of containment, the pushing back of socialism; MAD represents a standoff between the two powers while they attempt to deal with the third world; and of course the present era, of nuclear warfighting and counterforce, reflects the superpowers’ need to square off and prepare for an actual war.

This relates strategic planning and weapons buildups to the dynamics of international power–the same dynamics that have guided war plans (and produced wars) in the past. Yes, it makes sense. An ominous sense. A sense filled with horror. We all know that nuclear war would not be like the wars of the past, and it’s tempting but devastatingly wrong to think that this apocalyptic event must have irrational causes.

Paul Nitze–author of NSC-68 and of the Gaither Committee report in the 1950s–on Veterans Day 1976 met with other high-level figures to form the Committee on the Present Danger. This association, devoted to alerting America to the Soviet military menace and mobilizing the U.S. defense (or war) preparations, has members including Ronald Reagan, George P. Shultz, and at least 48 other past or present members of the Reagan administration.

In one of his warnings against Soviet intentions, Nitze gave the following analysis: “The Kremlin leaders do not want war, they want the world. They believe it unlikely, however, that the West will let them have the world without a fight.”

Of course nobody wants war, and particularly not nuclear war. But it seems the superpowers and their blocs want things they can’t get without war. Nitze’s formulation applies to both countries–neither wants war, both want the world. And if that’s so, only the world–the world’s people–can stop them.

The necessities of empire may enable the Nitzes and Weinbergers and Kahns to think the unthinkable. But the rest of us had better start thinking about the unthinkable in order to stop them. No matter what it takes.

The Wizards of Armageddon by Fred Kaplan, Simon & Schuster, $9.95 (paper).

To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans by Michio Kaku and Daniel Axelrod, South End Press, $30.00 (hardcover), $11.00 (paper).

The Compulsion for Mass Murder: First Strike and the Military Realities of Nuclear War by C. Clark Kissinger, Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade (Box 30735, Los Angeles, CA 90060), $1.00 (paper).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Tom Herzberg.