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America’s Strategic Posture

The Final Report of the

Congressional Commission

on the Strategic Posture

of the United States

William J. Perry, Chairman

James R. Schlesinger, Vice-chairman

Harry Cartland Fred Ikle

John Foster Keith Payne

John Glenn Bruce Tarter

Morton Halperin Ellen Williams

Lee Hamilton James Woolsey

Executive Summary

U.S. nuclear strategy begins with the central dilemma that nuclear weapons

are both the greatest potential threat to our way of life and important guarantors of U.S. security. A breakdown of international nuclear order would

be a catastrophe for the United States among many others. Preservation of

that order requires that we work to reduce nuclear dangers by effective deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation.

This is a moment of opportunity to revise and renew U.S. nuclear strategy, but also a moment of urgency. The opportunity arises from the arrival

of a new administration in Washington and the top-down reassessment

that must now begin of national security strategy, of approaches to nuclear

security, and of the purposes of U.S. nuclear weapons and their supporting capabilities. The urgency follows, internationally, from the danger that we may be

close to a tipping point in nuclear proliferation and, domestically, from an accumulation of delayed decisions about the nuclear

weapon program.

In addressing the challenges of nuclear

security for the decades ahead, the United

States must pursue a comprehensive strategy.

So long as nuclear dangers remain, it must

have a strong deterrent that is effective in

meeting its security needs and those of its

allies. This is a challenge that has changed

fundamentally over the last two decades—

and largely for the better. The nuclear deterrent of the United States need

not play anything like the central role that it did for decades in U.S. military

policy and national security strategy. But it remains crucial for some important problems.

While deterrence plays an essential role in reducing nuclear dangers, it is

not the only means for doing so, and accordingly the United States must seek

additional cooperative measures of a political kind, including for example

arms control and nonproliferation. This is a time when these approaches can

be renewed and reenergized.



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