A Say in the End of the World: Morals and British Nuclear Weapons Policy 1941-1987

A Say in the End of the World: Morals and British Nuclear Weapons Policy 1941-1987

By: Roger Ruston (author)Hardback

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More than forty years of commitment to nuclear weapons may have prepared Britain to take part in Armageddon, but not to defend itself against attack. What made British governments choose this path and how have they justified it? How have they responded to the moral questions it raises? Using material from recently-released official documents, Roger Ruston presents a moral history of British defence policy, from the 'lesson' of Appeasement to the nuclear modernizations of the eighties, and answers many of the questions that governments have avoided. The book will be of great interest to defence historians, moralists, politicians, and general readers who need a clear account of their country's defence predicament as a basis from which to devise workable and morally acceptable alternatives.

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About Author

former Lecturer in Ethics and Moral Theology at Blackfriars, Oxford.


Introduction; PART I: JUST WAR AND ITS ENEMIES: Should war be humanized?; Weapons, targets, and the law; New uses for an old theory; The rules of just war; Non-combatant immunity and its critics; LESSONS OF THE PAST 1: APPEASEMENT: The lesson and its teachers; Arms and security; Appeasement or Armegeddon?; The anti-Soviet element; LESSONS OF THE PAST 2: STRATEGIC BOMBING: From 1917 to 1939: The theory; The moral background; From 1939 to 1945: The practice; The official version; Reprisals in ethics and law; conclusions; PART II: WEAPON FOR A FIRST CLASS NATION, 1941-1952: The decisive weapon; The bomb is made and used; Labour inherits the bomb; Strategic priorities; The importance of the Soviet threat - and the American presence; The British bomb becomes a reality; The silence of the moralists; JOINING THE 'H-CLUB', 1953-1956: The year of the H-bomb; Massive retaliation and tactical nuclear weapons in Europe; Nuclear revisionism: graduated deterrence; conclusions; DETERRENCE ON THE CHEAP, 1957-1964: The new defence policy of 1957; Deterrence or defence?; A say in the end of the world: Britain's independent contribution; Macmillan and the test ban; The question of strategy; The symbolic value of possession; Labour and unilateralism; Unacceptable damage: How Polaris would be used; Moral critique, 1957-1964; conclusions; POLARIS AND DETENTE, 1965-1976: The changing outlook on defence; Flexible response; Detente and 'The continuing threat'; American actions - British responsibilities; Would Polaris always get through?; conclusions; CRISIS OVER MODERNIZATION, 1977-1987: The new insecurity; Long range theatre nuclear weapons; Replacing Polaris; The INF agreement; The new nuclear debate; conclusions; PART III: THE ETHICS OF FLEXIBLE RESPONSE: Preventing war; The question of limits; Two kinds of deterrence; The limit of limits; The control of nuclear war; conclusions; CONCLUSIONS.

Product Details

  • publication date: 10/08/1989
  • ISBN13: 9780198275657
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 282
  • ID: 9780198275657
  • weight: 497
  • ISBN10: 019827565X

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