The Strategic Pendulum: United States Nuclear Forces Strategy During the Cold War

Date of Graduation

Spring 1999


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Since the advent of nuclear weapons technology, the United States has endeavored to utilize its nuclear forces to secure its foreign policy objectives and national security interests. Those objectives and interests have primarily included deterring Soviet aggression against the United States and its principal allies. At the same time, the United States also endeavored to insure that nuclear weapons would never be used by any adversary against the United States or its allies, or that the United States would be compelled to utilize its nuclear forces in conflict in order to secure its objectives and interests. This thesis will examine the evolution of United States nuclear forces doctrine, policy and strategy during the Cold War in an effort to understand how the United States utilized nuclear weapons in order to achieve its foreign policy objectives. The thesis will also examine the importance that the United States placed on the non-use of nuclear weapons in conflict and how it intended to avoid the use of nuclear weapons while at the same time securing its foreign policy objectives.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Peter T Breier