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Richard Ned Lebow spells out the implications of historical experience for American perceptions of the place of crisis management in superpower strategic relations. identifying and discussing three reasons for the outbreak of World War I—preemption, loss of control, and miscalculated escalation—he argues that all three are equally serious threats to peace and survival. He documents how psychological stress in past crises has induced erratic, dysfunctional behavior from national leaders, even paralysis. A nuclear crisis, he argues, would generate even more acute stress because of the unprecedented destructiveness of nuclear weapons and the extreme time pressure that leaders are likely to face.
Richard Ned Lebow is James O. Freedman Presidential Professor Emeritus in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, Professor of International Political Theory at King's College, and Bye-Fellow at Pembroke College, University of Cambridge.
Lebow combines conclusions of psychological studies of group decision making and human behavior under stress with an appreciation for the technical and operational factors that determine, to a large degree, officials' perspectives on necessary actions involving nuclear forces. He makes a strong case that the dangers of sparking a nuclear war during a crisis are far greater than US leaders currently believe.
A thought-provoking and research-stimulating contribution to the field of superpower crisis management.
"The conjunction of Lebow's knowledge of crisis behavior and his focus here on the nature of nuclear crises makes this a particularly useful and important work. A most well-argued and analytical survey, which alone should make it required reading for anyone interested in the complex reality of crisis management in the nuclear age.
A frontal and all flanks assault on many traditional assumptions about crisis stability and deterrence.
A clear, concise, thought-provoking treatise that should be required reading for the national security and defense community in general.
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