The Momentum of Warmaking

John A. Nevin


The behavior involved in preventing nuclear war by military deterrence overlaps almost entirely with the behavior involved in aggressive warmaking. Moreover, the components of deterrence form an operant class maintained by powerful contingencies of reinforcement. Therefore, any events that raise the probability of the military components of deterrence, such as a show of force in a time of crisis, also raise the probability of war, the very outcome that deterrence is intended to prevent. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provides a historical example of how military deterrence can shift into aggressive warmaking. Nonviolent alternatives to military deterrence are urgently needed.

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