1 July 2014

The Insurer's Fallacy and the value of nuclear weapons

Ivan Oelrich

An independent defense analyst, Oelrich was the former vice president of the Strategic Security Program at the...


In an international confrontation, nuclear weapons can provide leverage even if they are not used. The leverage comes from threats of use or increased risk of use. When the confrontation is successfully resolved without nuclear use, exploiting this latent, potential use of nuclear weapons appears to be cost free. But in fact, some fraction of the consequence of a nuclear war should be included in the cost–benefit calculation each time the tactic is employed.