John J. Mearsheimer: Conventional Deterrence; Cornell University Press; Ithaca, NY.
Paul Bracken: The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces; Yale University Press; New Haven, CT.
Two of the major problems facing Western defense and foreign policy are truly Siamese twins: that of deterring nuclear war, and the possibility of a conventional Soviet invasion of Europe. They are intimately linked, for in the event that we are unable to stop an invasion of Europe, we are–theoretically–bound to use nuclear weapons, if only tactical ones. And that may well lead to full-scale nuclear war, for few people nowadays have much confidence in the likelihood of limiting the use of nuclear weapons in a European war. While these two books tend to decouple these problems, they are useful analyses of the dilemmas facing us. This is especially true of Mearsheimer's Conventional Deterrence, a work, that, despite some of its controversial and even dubious, interpretations of history, should be of interest to political and military analysts and to diplomatic and military historians. It is an extremely well-researched book that examines the problem of how, in contemporary situations, antagonistic nations decide to embark on nonnuclear war.
Mearsheimer limits his collection of relevant historical situations to the post-World War I...