UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Strategy, technology and the making of United States strategic doctrines, 1945-1972 Kupperman, Charles Martin


The purpose of this thesis is to examine and analyze the nature of the relationship between the technological developments in nuclear weapons systems and the evolution of the strategic doctrine of the United States 1945-1972. Because of the dynamic nature of weapons development in the status-conscious system, there is a need to evaluate the impact of weapons technology and momentum upon strategic doctrine. There is a plethora of literature which is founded on the almost a priori assumption and analytical leap that technology is the dominating factor in the formulation of strategic doctrine. Although this extremely deterministic, technocratic theory has great popular appeal, it may serve only to obscure other equally important dimensions of defense policy and national security strategy. It is my belief that there are indeed other dimensions to strategic policy-making in addition to purely technological momentum. These additional components are the more subjective and intuitive aspects involved in the machinations of domestic and international politics of technological and strategic choice. The necessities of economics, the powerful bureaucratic pressures, and a sensitivity to a potentially vocal domestic audience were all vital factors in the making of strategic doctrine. An examination of these other variables will provide a more complete understanding of the nature of the technological-strategic relationship in the United States. Exact calendar dates delineating either technological or strategic periods are somewhat artificial; they are an inescapable necessity which will be used with caution. Structurally, the thesis will be divided into five parts: four chapters of text and one section of assorted materials. Chapter One contains a general discussion of the complexities and dynamics of defense planning in the system of nuclear deterrence. Chapter Two is devoted to the various developments and directions of nuclear technology and strategic doctrine during the period 1945-1960. Chapter Three contains a similarly styled discussion of the period 1960-1972. Chapter Four is devoted to drawing conclusions about the nature of the technological-strategic relationship in the United States. There is also a "quick-fix" section following the text which contains a glossary and various appendices. These pages will be most beneficial if perused prior to reading the text. The subject matter is profound, highly complex, and ultimately, very subjective. Because of these characteristics, a state of intellectual alertness and emotional calm is the author’s analytical and stylistic objective.

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