Mutually Assured Destruction Theory

Is it enough to prevent nuclear war?

Patrick Hollis
2 min readAug 5, 2020

The 20th century saw the world plunged into war twice in the space of 20 years. The advancement in weaponised warfare rapidly changed the way conflicts play out. At the start of the First World War humanity began using the aeroplane as a weapon and by the end of the Second World War, the Atom Bomb had been dropped on civilians in two cities.

The progression of nuclear technology and weapons of mass destruction has picked up the pace, and on many occasions the world has seemed close to a Third World War, but it is yet to develop. The reality is if we are thrown into a full-scale nuclear war, then life as we know it will cease to exist.

The idea of mutually assured destruction was first implemented in the Defence manifesto of John F Kennedys’ government. It was a major part of Robert McNamara, JFK’s Secretary of Defence, speech on defence policy in 1962. It is a theory of flexible nuclear response, and one which helped to justify the USA stockpiling nuclear weapons on the assumption that the Soviet Union was doing the same.

With this, they could assure they would have enough weapons to defend against a Soviet attack which, in 1962, was expected to come at any moment.

In October 1962 The Cuban Missile Crisis had the world days away from a nuclear war. If the Soviet Union had launched its missiles from the island of Cuba, the US would retaliate and by using the MAD theory would assume they had the same amount of weapons to send back over to Russia.

The most powerful world leaders throughout history have had the power to wipe millions of people off the face of the earth with the touch of a button. It is an idea which has been threatened to make other nations backdown, but at the end of the day there is no use of pushing the button. As soon as one leader does this, then dozens of nations will do the same. What will be left of the planet afterwards will not be worth ruling over as it will be the charred remains of a society gone horribly wrong.



Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience in the industry