In this issue of the Journal of Strategy and Politics, three articles by Richard Thornton examine the history of American engagement in Asia during the early Cold War period. The U.S.-Soviet strategic weapons balance and shifting alliances in both camps were particularly important factors. The fourth essay, by Mark Schneider, calls attention to the growing challenge posed by present-day Russia’s nuclear capability, which is playing a larger role in its security strategy while the United States has chosen the opposite course.
Cover, Table of Contents, and Editorial Note (PDF)
Truman and the Korean War: Five Command Decisions that Crystallized Containment (PDF) — Richard C. Thornton
Abstract: The Korean War was about much more than who would control the peninsula. Five presidential decisions prior to and during the conflict were elemental in U.S. formulation of a global Containment strategy.
Eisenhower and Southeast Asia, Part I: Building Containment (PDF) — Richard C. Thornton
Abstract: The Eisenhower Administration pursued American strategic interests consistent with the evolving U.S.-Soviet nuclear weapons balance. But policy toward Southeast Asia was impaired by failure to effectively leverage other Cold War developments, such as the incipient Sino-Soviet split.
Eisenhower and Southeast Asia, Part II: Failure by Choice (PDF) — Richard C. Thornton
Abstract: Capitalizing on American vacillation, the Soviet Union and North Vietnam fomented insurgency in Laos. Washington would have to risk war with China to prevent communist control. Eisenhower, however, was determined to avoid military conflict with China, and he declined to deploy U.S. ground troops.
Russian Nuclear Strategy (PDF) — Mark B. Schneider
Abstract: Russia has developed an enormous advantage in low-yield precision nuclear weapons, and envisions their potential use to “de-escalate” conventional conflicts. At the same time, Moscow is preparing for the possibility of massive nuclear escalation. Western deterrence planning should be upgraded accordingly.