Title : Inadvertent Nuclear War : The Implications of the Changing Global Order
Editors : Hakan Wiberg, IB Damgaard Peterson and Paul Smoker
Publisher : Pergamon Press
Since the dramatic end of the Pacific War in 1945 the threat of nuclear war has exercised the minds of many. Initial fears concerned the risk that a political crisis between the Superpowers would escalate through military confrontation into a "calculated" nuclear war. Another scenario pictured a new Hitler commanding a nuclear-capable state prepared to use such weapons "irrationally", possibly sparking a "catalytic" nuclear war between the major Powers. More recently attention has shifted towards the risk of the "accidental" release of nuclear weapons. While the risk of intentional conflict between the major Powers has lessened, the arsenals have only been marginally reduced, leaving the possibility of accidental release as perhaps the most threatening case. "Inadvertent Nuclear War" presents the risk in terms of the reliability and instability of the human and technical systems governing release, with contributions ranging from the engineering of computer software to the psychology of the chain of command. As Dr Wiberg states in his introduction, "No known technical construction, human being or social organization is absolutely failsafe".