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The New Psychology of War and Peace

Psychology and Deterrence. by Robert Jervis; Richard Ned Lebow; Janice Gross Stein;
Patrick M. Morgan; Jack L. Snyder
Review by: James G. Blight
International Security, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Winter, 1986-1987), pp. 175-186
Published by: The MIT Press
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The New Psychology JamesG. Blight

of War and Peace
Book Review

RobertJervis,RichardNed Lebow, and JaniceGross Stein (withcontributions

and Deterrence.Baltiby PatrickM. Morgan and JackL. Snyder). Psychology
more: JohnsHopkins UniversityPress, 1985.


Freudian Revo-

lution is now more or less complete. Due to the effortsof Freud and his
successors, few of us now have the slightestdoubt that there are deeper
layers to our minds than is at firstapparent, and that occurringwithin the
psychologicalunderworldare processes causing distortion,denial, and other
sorts of self-deception.We are not entirelywhat we seem to be; our actions,
we believe, are not fullyexplicable without referenceto the psychological
means by which we seem oftento defend ourselves against reality.Yet Freud
would have been the firstto admit thathis revolutionaryenterpriseconsisted
the old wine of the ancients into new, semi-scientific
mainly in transferring
bottles,fitformodern consumption. Thus, it is altogetherfittingto findthe
an attemptto apply the psyessential message of Psychology
and Deterrence
chological viewpoint to self-deceptionin foreignpolicymaking,contained in
the writingsof Thucydides, the firstgreatchroniclerof internationalpolitics.
In The PeloponnesianWar,he has the powerful Athenians say to the weaker
inhabitantsof the island of Melos, a people the Athenians will soon destroy:
Hope, danger's comforter,may be indulged in by those who have abundant
resources, if not without loss at all events withoutruin; but its nature is to
be extravagant,and those who go so faras to put theirall upon the venture
see it in its true colors only when they are ruined.'
For deepening my understandingof the relationsbetween psychologyand foreignpolicy,thanks
are due to Robert Dallek, Richard Ned Lebow, Frederic Mosher, Thomas C. Schelling, and
especially to McGeorge Bundy, JanetM. Lang, and JosephS. Nye, Jr.
JamesG. Blightis a ResearchFellow at the Centerfor Scienceand International
1. Thucydides, The HistoryofthePeloponnesianWar,trans. Richard Crawley and R. Feetham, in
R.M. Hutchins, ed., GreatBooksof theWesternWorld(Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica,1952),
Vol. 6, pp. 347-616; quotation on p. 506.
Security,Winter1986-87(Vol. 11, No. 3)
( 1986 by the Presidentand Fellows of Harvard College and of the Massachusetts Instituteof Technology.


Security| 176

The authors of Psychology

and Deterrenceattemptto provide both a suitable
frameworkfor,and historicalexamples of,foreignpolicymakerswho let their
hopes and fearsrun away with theirrationaljudgment,many of whom were,
like the Melians, ruined as a result.
The impetus for writingthis book may be put in two propositions: first,
the psychological principles,which were well known to Thucydides, rediscovered by Freud, appropriated by contemporarycognitive science, and
accepted by most educated people everywhere,seem to have almost totally
eluded the grasp of the architectsof politicaland militarydeterrence.Theoristsof deterrenceare regarded by the authors of this volume as psychologically innocent in the extreme.Second, as RichardNed Lebow says, "deterrence remains the principle [sic] intellectual and policy bulwark against
nuclear holocaust" (p. 204). Thus, Lebow and his co-authors believe that
attemptsto deter nuclear war-to avoid the ultimatecatastrophe-are very
deeply misinformedpsychologically,so much so, in fact,thatpresentpolicies
of deterrencemay help to produce the nuclear war theyare designed to help
avoid. Their sworn enemy,therefore,is not deterrence,but deterrencetheory,
which theybelieve is based on a specious, pre-Freudian(and, by implication,
pre-Thucydidean)rational-actorpsychologythatsimplydoes not conformto
the thinkingand behavior of actual foreignpolicymakers. Psychologyand
Deterrenceis at its core an argument that holds that the classical theoryof
deterrenceought to be regarded as psychologicallyrefutedand thatwe must
look in new, more psychologicallyinformeddirectionsfora saferapproach
to deterrence,especially nuclear deterrence.
Before confrontingthe arguments of the revolutionaries,however, let us
remindourselves brieflyof two of the centraltenets of the old regime,both
of which are denied categoricallyby the authors of this volume. According
to Thomas Schelling (whom the authors of this volume regard as by farthe
most importantexpositorof deterrencetheory),deterrence"is not concerned
withthe efficient
applicationof forcebut withthe exploitation
This is uncontroversialbut important:deterrenceis alleged to be mainly
about preventingwar. Second, according to Schelling, the theoryof deterrenceholds thathuman behavior is interdependent,the actionsofadversaries
being both cause and effectof one another's behavior. As Schelling says,
"Deterrence . .. involves confronting. . . [an adversary]with evidence that
2. Thomas C. Schelling, The Strategyof Conflict(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UniversityPress,
1960), p. 5.

New Psychology
ofWarand Peace | 177

our behavior will be determinedby his behavior."3These and related propositions,which togetherhave exertedenormous influenceon the continuing
debates about U.S. foreignpolicy,are put forwardby Schellingin the manner
of general laws, accordingto which it is considered legitimateand instructive
to deduce completelyhypotheticalconflictsbetween disembodied, adversarial, international"actors," who signal theircommitmentscrediblyand audibly to one another and who are deterred fromattackingonly because the
net gain calculated to be derived fromnot attackingis greater.
One of the definingcharacteristicsof genius is the capacity to shape not
merely the content of debate, but to determine the terms, parameters, or
contourswithinwhich debate takes place. This is certainlytrue of Schelling,
who in 1960 admitted, forexample, that the psychological study of conflict
is a legitimateenterprisebut then promptlydeclared it out of bounds for
serious students of internationalconflict.He decreed "a main dividing line
... between those that treat conflictas a pathological state and seek its
causes and treatment,and those that take conflictforgrantedand study the
behavior associated with it."4 In other words, according to Schelling, there
ought to be a great divide between clinicaland academic psychology,on the
one hand, and the strategyof internationalconflict-of deterrence-on the
other. That this great divide has been respected, even revered by students
of internationalrelations, no one can doubt. But the authors of Psychology
and Deterrencetry,in effect,to ignore Schelling's canonical dichotomyaltogether and to begin to carve out a third way: a psychologicallyinformed
approach to the preventionof internationalconflict,a hybridizationthat has
heretoforeseemed all but impossible due to the hegemony of Schelling's
great divide. Psychology is to be brought out of its closet and into contact
with cases of successful and failed deterrence,cases that the old paradigm
is held to be incapable of explaining. By openly acknowledgingand allowing
forwhat theyregardas the ubiquitous irrationality
of foreignpolicydecisionmaking,the revolutionariesseek to constructa more rationaland empirically
robusttheoryof deterrence.
RobertJervisleads offwith two chapterscontaininga wide arrayof briefly
described cases, which he interpretsin the light of some selected findings
fromcognitive psychology. His subject is bias in the perception of threats,
and he divides the psychological domain of interestinto two types: unmo3. Ibid., p. 13.
4. Ibid., p. 18.

Security| 178

tivatedbias, which occurs as a functionofpredispositions,stimulusoverload,

and selective attention;and motivatedbias, in which inferenceis used as a
defense mechanism, that is, as protectionagainst knowledge of risk and
danger. As an example of unmotivatedbias or a "shortcut to rationality"(p.
23), Jerviscites inattentionto "base rates" (an idea derivedfrompsychologists
Amos Tverskyand Dan Kahneman).5 That is, policymakersoftenmistakenly
estimate probabilitiesbecause they pay insufficientattentionto the overall
frequencyof events, attendinginstead only to the vividness of some referent
case. For instance, the overrelianceon the "Munich Analogy" and the resulting overestimationof threat is a function,Jervisbelieves, of failingto
come to grips with the extremerarityof leaders who are as deceitful,powerful, and aggressive as Hitler (p. 24). As an example of motivated bias,
Jerviscites the specious Japanese reasoning thatled to the bombing of Pearl
Harbor. They believed, ratherincrediblyaccording to Jervis,that afterthe
bombing, the United States would simplywithdrawfromthe Pacific(p. 26),
a conclusion Jervisbelieves was motivated by a powerful need to avoid
confrontingthe objectivelymore likely event, which was all-out war with
the United States. The antidote to both sorts of bias and thus to erroneous
threatperceptionand increased risk of the failureof deterrenceis said to be
the acquisition of a finer-grainedunderstanding of one another's beliefs,
perceptions,and values, a task that Jervisfullyacknowledges is easier said
than done (p. 33).
If the value of this book resides very largelyin its argumentfora psychologically more empirical approach to deterrence,then the two case study
chapters by Janice Gross Stein (on the October War of 1973) and one by
RichardNed Lebow (on the Falklands War of 1982) must be regarded as, in
importantrespects, the heart and soul of the volume. For it is in the thick
textureof such extended case analyses that one must tryto determinethe
nature, significance,and extent of psychologicalbias, and theirrelation to
the failure or maintenance of deterrence. Stein's chapters are marvelous
evocations of the attitudesin both the Egyptianand Israeli High Commands
duringthe period 1967-1973. The dual narrativesare so thoroughlycompelling that one may actually feel as well as acknowledge intellectuallythe
strikingpsychological paradox, which, Stein believes, provided the prereq5. Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky,Judgment
Biases(New York: Cambridge UniversityPress, 1982).

New Psychology
ofWarand Peace | 179

uisite to the October War of 1973. In assessing one's abilityto carryout a

successful attack upon the other, according to Stein, "Egypt could but
thoughtit couldn't, while Israel thoughtEgypt could but wouldn't because
Egypt thoughtit couldn't" (p. 48). Because of Stein's deftweaving together
of her sources, one sees in this paradox not mere word play, but a formula
for tragedy. In the end the Israelis paid too close attentionto the military
balance and were lulled by numerous false alarms caused by Egyptian mobilizationsbetween 1967 and 1973. They failed,in Stein's view, to appreciate
how deeply intolerablethe post-1967 status quo was to Sadat and to Egypt.
Most significantly,according to Stein, neither leadership can be said, as
deterrencetheorypredicts, to have responded to deterrentthreats,as they
were understood by each deterrer.It was a dialogue of the deaf and the
deafness, in her view, has a psychologicalexplanation.
Lebow's chapteron the Falklands War, while similarto Stein's in its ostensible intent,is much harsher in tone and much more thoroughlya piece of
self-consciouslypsychological analysis. Lebow, so it seems, means to accuse
as much as to analyze. There are no heroes in his account, nor scarcelyany
ordinarilyfallible people; there are only buffoons. Both the Thatcher and
Galtierigovernments,accordingto Lebow, must be deemed guiltyof massive
self-deception. In an extended passage of psychohistory,he accuses the
Americans of "paranoia" (p. 114), the Argentinesof "lack of sophistication"
(p. 116), and everyone concerned of "selective attention"(p. 119) and "perceptual distortion" (p. 119), the latter of which he believes was "the real
cause of the war" (p. 119). In approaching the participantsin this particular
failureof deterrenceso harshlyand reductively,Lebow appears to push the
psychologizing of deterrencesomewhat furtherthan the other authors. In
Lebow's causal account, the issue perceived by the participantsas thatwhich
led to the failureof deterrence-control of the Falklands/MalvinasIslandsseems to fade into the background, while psychological breakdown is put
forthas central.The logic of Lebow's argumentwould seem to lead ultimately
to the view that, at least in the case of the Falklands War (but probably in
otherfailuresof deterrenceas well), the relationof the studentof deterrence
to the participantsin case studies is much like thatof psychiatristto patient,
at least in the diagnostic phase. Lebow, it seems, would push the Freudian
revolutionall the way so that the study of foreignpolicy decision-making
becomes, eventually, something like a branch of depth psychology. If this
were ever to occur, the revoltagainst fullyrationaldeterrencetheorywould

Security| 180

have become total. Irrational actors would replace rational actors in the
analyses of internationalrelations specialists, who would by then have bid
goodbye to deterrenceand hello to psychology.
The conclusions to the volume, contained in two chapters by Lebow, are
boldly psychological.6First,Lebow argues that "denial, selective attention,
and otherpsychologicalsleightsof hand" (p. 173) are ubiquitous in situations
when deterrenceis on the line and that internationalaggression is farmore
a functionof perceived need than of opportunity.Lebow thus provides an
extended gloss on his well-knownargumentthatstates do not jump through
windows of opportunity.As Lebow sees it, states (or presumablytheirleaders) are best understood as turninginward ratherthan outward toward their
own unresolved wishes and fears. They leap, one might say, into murky
basements of feltneed, ratherthan throughwindows of perceived opportunity.7And since the theoryand practice of deterrencehas heretoforeemphasized the arrangementsrequired forpreventingwindows of opportunity
fromarising, it is no wonder, according to Lebow, that historyis littered
with failuresof deterrencecaused by misperceptionand misunderstanding.
In a thoroughlyFreudian argument,Lebow argues, in effect,that such windows (hence rational deterrenceitself) are illusions-manageable fantasies
which are preferredto the frightening
realityactuallyfaced by policymakers,
especially in the nuclear age.8 This is, in fact, exactly the formof Freud's
argumentagainst what he regarded as the illusion of religion.9

6. Deliberatelyomittedfromcriticalconsiderationare the two chaptersthatimmediatelyprecede

the concluding chapters in Psychology
and Deterrence:PatrickM. Morgan, "Saving Face for the
Sake of Deterrence," and JackL. Snyder, "Perceptions of the SecurityDilemma in 1914." This
is done not because these essays are uninterestingor unimportant.In fact, they are neither.
Morgan's discussion of the peculiarlyAmerican obsession with reputationor resolve is suggestive and compelling, and Snyder's typology of securitydilemmas involves many interesting
examples of this centralconcept of politicalscience. The problem,rather,is thateach is strikingly
abstractand deductive in the extremeand thus almost totallyat odds with the entirethrustof
the restof the book, which is self-consciouslyconcreteand inductive.In short,considered apart
fromthese anomalous chaptersby Morgan and Snyder,thebook advances a significantargument
fora fundamentalreorientationofthinkingabout U.S. foreignpolicy.But the chaptersby Morgan
and Snyder,forall theirintrinsicinterest,only qualify,obscure, and ultimatelynegate the central
methodologicalargumentof the book, which would thus have been farmore coherentwithout
7. Richard Ned Lebow, "Windows of Opportunity:Do States JumpThrough Them?," InternationalSecurity,Vol. 9, No. 1 (Summer 1984), pp. 147-186.
8. RichardNed Lebow, BetweenPeaceand War:TheNatureofInternational
Hopkins UniversityPress, 1981).
9. Sigmund Freud, The Futureof an Illusion,in James Strachey,trans. and ed., The Complete
WorksofSigmundFreud,24 vols. (London: Hogarth, 1966), Vol. 21, pp. 3-56.

New Psychology
ofWarand Peace | 181

are a curious mixture

and Deterrence
The policy conclusions to Psychology
of sensible policy suggestions and pessimistic handwringing about what
Lebow and his colleagues obviously regard as the very dim prospects for
enacting such policies. The recommendationsfollow directlyfromthe psychological analyses: adopt a "mixed strategy,"as Lebow calls it (p. 227), in
which threatand reassurance are balanced, accordingto the best estimateof
the needs, fears,and goals of an adversary.Stein agrees completely,calling
in her own conclusion fora balanced mixtureof "accommodation and coercion" (p. 86).10
Yet in concluding Psychology
and Deterrence,
Lebow quite obviously recognizes that he has arrived at a conceptual cul-de-sac. He demonstratesconsiderable intellectualcourage in facing up to what is essentiallya nihilistic
conclusion. This is Lebow's paradox:
Deterrence,which, relativelyspeaking, is easy to implement,may nevertheless not be a very effectivestrategyof conflictmanagement,because it does
not address the most important[psychological] sources of aggression. On
the other hand, effortsto alleviate the kinds of insecurities that actually
encourage or even compel leaders to pursue aggressive foreignpolicies do
not seem very likelyto succeed. (p. 192)
This is one of the most remarkablepassages in the book. For it repudiates
the classical theoryof deterrencebecause it is psychologically
it leads us to believe that a psychologicallyinformedapproach, while theoreticallysafer,is probablypragmatically
bankrupt.The old view is wrong and
thus dangerous; the new view is rightbut irrelevant.
In fact,neitherLebow nor his coauthors(nor,forthatmatter,thisreviewer)
can imagine a means forplausibly interveningdirectly
into the psychological
lives of policymakersso as to reduce the intensityof the needs which seem
to motivate many failures of deterrence.The psychological laboratoryand
clinic are presently and very likely will remain terra incognita for foreign
policymakers.At the veryend of the book, in partialflightfromthe nihilistic
terminusof his logic, Lebow suggests that perhaps we can learn important
10. See Graham T. Allison, Albert Carnesale, and Joseph S. Nye, Jr.,eds., Hawks, Doves, and
Ozvls: An Agenda for AvoidingNuclear War (New York: Norton, 1985), p. 215. Indeed, such
argumentswould seem to be fullyconsistentwith and to provide the psychologicalfoundation
forthe canonical endorsementof "balanced deterrence"in Hawks,Doves, and Owls. The authors
of thatbook recommendthe simultaneous avoidance of hawkish provocation,ineffectualdovish
appeasement, and owlish paralysis. They conclude with a lengthylist of concrete recommendations designed to achieve balanced deterrenceand thus to preventdangerous crises between
the superpowers. See also JosephS. Nye, Jr.,NuclearEthics(New York:Free Press, 1986), p. 119.


psychologicallessons fromsome astonishingand peaceful reversalsin international relations, especially that of Sadat in 1975. But this is exceedingly
cold comfortfor the psychological revolutionariesfor,as Stein points out,
the key prerequisite to that initiativewas a bloodbath of proportions that
were unacceptablyabhorrentto both sides. Likewise with the superpowers,
the countries whose sour relationshiphovers like a cloud over this entire
book. The Kennedy-Khrushchev peace initiativeof 1963 is almost unthinkable without the terrifying
Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. And so it
goes: a book whose authors set out to conduct a psychological revolution
ends by engaging in courageous but unequivocal conceptual self-destruction.
What has gone wrong? Why have these psychologicalanalyses led to such
pessimism? Let us firstbe clear about what is notwrong: the psychological
analyses of deterrencein this volume are not uninterestingor implausible.
In this thoroughlyFreudian era, very few people tryto resistpsychological
explanations per se, and many of them put forthin this volume are very
compelling. On the level of what is sometimescalled "politicalpsychology,"
therefore,the book must be regarded as a brilliantsuccess. There is, one is
inclined to conclude with the authors, a huge psychologicaldeficiencyin the
theoryof rational deterrence. We see clearly that the theorydoes not put
nearly enough emphasis on nonrational determinantsof human thinking
and behavior.
The problem, rather,is one that is endemic to the entirefield of political
psychology.As Stanley Hoffmannhas pointed out, while "politicsis wholly
proposed solutions to (what may be regarded as importantly
psychological) problems of war and peace must be wholly political."1And
this means criticallythat proposed solutions must be situated firmlywithin
the cognitivecontextof the policymakers,who must come to believe thatthe
proposals will help to solve what theyregard as real problems of war and
peace, of deterrenceand reassurance, not "perceptual distortion"or "paranoia" or other psychological problems. Lebow is correctto conclude that
foreignpolicymakersare quite unlikelyto respond favorably,iftheyrespond
at all, to overtlypsychological proposals.12They are in factlikely to regard
11. Stanley Hoffmann, "On the Political Psychology of War and Peace: A Critique and an
Agenda," PoliticalPsychology,
Vol. 7, No. 1 (March 1986), pp. 1-21; quotation on p. 1.
12. See J.P. Kahan, R.E. Darilek, M.H. Graubard, and N.C. Brown, with assistance fromA.

Plattand B.R. Williams,Preventing

WhatCan theBehavioral
(Santa Monica, Calif.: Rand Corporation,1983); and Carnegie Corporation,"Behavioral Sciences
and the Preventionof Nuclear War" (Mimeo, 1984).


such proposals as, in the felicitousphrasing of William James, so much

"mythologicaland poetic talk about psychology" and of no interestor relevance to them.13To believe otherwisewould be mere wishfulthinkingof just
the sort that the authors of this volume find so ubiquitous and discomfiting
in foreignpolicymakers.
What can be done about Lebow's paradox? Is there a psychologically
informedapproach to deterrence that is policy-relevant?There is indeed,
although it is unlikely to satisfyeither psychologists or political scientists
seeking to borrow disciplinary knowledgefrom one another and apply it
directlyto pragmaticproblems of war and peace. As Lebow argues, thisdoes
not work. The findings of cognitive and clinical psychology, in all their
multitudinousdisciplinaryforms,are unlikelyto be helpfulto policymakers.
What would be helpful is a psychological approach that takes fully into
account the substantial nonrational component of deterrence but that is
transparent,inconspicuous, and devoid of "off-the-shelf"solutions from
psychology.Among psychologists,thisapproach is called "phenomenology,"
the studyof the streamof thoughtas it appears to the thinkingand perceiving
subject. Its chiefarchitectwas WilliamJames.14The goal of such an approach
would be this (in the phrasing of Paul Bracken): "Instead of tryingto change
people ... [we should try]to change the premises of theirdecisions through
removal of the threats that compel them to make irrevocable
One must be psychologicallyconcerned, but one must also
provide genuine policy choices. This seems to be the most promisingway to
avoid the psychological innocence of rational deterrencetheorywhile also
avoiding the policy irrelevanceof disciplinarypsychology.
Toward the end of the Melian dialogue, Thucydides has the Athenians
accuse the Melians of wishfulthinking,of retreatingto illusion and thus to
regarding"what is out of sight [as] more certainthan what is before your
and Deterrence
make an analogous and
eyes."'16The authors of Psychology
13. WilliamJames,Letterto FrancisJ.Child, August 16, 1878, cited in Gay Wilson Allen, William
James(New York: Viking, 1967), p. 211.
14. Extended arguments for a phenomenological psychologyof war and peace and its debt to
WilliamJamesare in JamesG. Blight,"How Might PsychologyContributeTo Reducing the Risk
of Nuclear War?," PoliticalPsychology,in press; and "Psychology and Reducing the Risk of
Nuclear War: From Parallel Paths to FruitfulInteraction,"Journalof HumanisticPsychology,
15. Paul Bracken, "Accidental Nuclear War," in Allison et al., Hawks,Doves, and Owls, pp. 2553; quotation on p. 52.
16. Thucydides, PeloponnesianWar,p. 507.

Security| 184

convincingpoint about rationaldeterrencetheoristsand practitioners.But to

complete the revolution in thinkingabout deterrence,which requires not
merelythe demolition of the old anti-psychologybut also constructionof a
new policy-relevantpsychology,we must also apply the Athenianaccusation
to Jervis,Lebow, and Stein and urge them, along with all who study deterrence, to begin the psychologicalanalysis where the policymakerbegins and
thus to ask firstand throughout not what is "out of sight," supposedly
buried in the deeply layered cognitiveprocesses of policymakers,but rather
what is "beforetheireyes," seeming to those who must make the decisions
to pose threatsto deterrenceand thus to peace.
What would some such psychological approach be like that avoids counterproductivedependence on obscure psychologicalassumptions and literatures and that also (like Psychologyand Deterrence)is focused centrallyon
avoiding nuclear war between the superpowers? Obviously, it is impossible
in a relativelybriefreview to be explicitabout all or many of the dimensions
and emphases of a research programthat meets these requirements.But to
get the proper orientationand to begin to ask the relevant questions, one
can do no betterthan to followup the psychologicalimplicationsof the main
thesis of a previous book by Jervis:
it is not an exaggerationto speak of the nuclear revolution. Unless a state
has first-strike
capability,it is hard to see how having [what Paul Nitze calls]
"the advantage at the uppermost level of violence" helps. Indeed, it is even
hard to tell what that means . . . [because] the side thatis ahead is no more
protectedthan the side that is behind.17
If Jervisis correct,then the "nuclear revolution"ought to have crystalclear
psychologicalrealityto leaders of the superpowers in those moments when
theybelieve they face the actual, imminent(though stillcontingent)probabilityof nuclear war.
This is exactlywhat we find in, for example, the Cuban missile crisis of
1962: the psychological transformationof the nuclear revolution,described
by Jervis,frommere intellectualawareness of its logical possibilityto intense,
preoccupying fear of its operational consequences. Richard Neustadt has
summarized this psychological shiftin an apt aphorism: it is the awareness
of "the risk of irreversibility
becomeirreparable."1.8In moments of surpassing
17. RobertJervis,The IllogicofAmericanNuclearStrategy(Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell UniversityPress,
1984), p. 58.
18. Richard E. Neustadt, PresidentialPower: The Politicsof LeadershipFromFDR to Carter(New
York:Wiley,1980), p. 158. (Italics in original.)


nucleardanger,the technologicalrevolutionnoted by Jervisseems to produce

a psychologicalrevolution,namely, that nuclear weapons are regarded suddenly and unequivocally by political leaders as useless in the pursuit of
political and militarygoals. During the crises in Berlin (1961) and Cuba
(1962)-the only two war-threateningcrises between the superpowers in the
age of potential, mutual annihilation-President Kennedy and his closest
advisers could not indeed derive any concretemeaning fromthe calculation
of their(very large) relativeadvantage in deliverable nuclear weapons.19
Moreover, these instances of psychological nuclear revolutionhad consequences so importantand so well known thatit is remarkablethattheyplay
no role whatever in Psychologyand Deterrence.Chief among these is the
singularabsence fromhigh-leveldecision-makingof just the sortsof psychological biases, projections, paranoia, and so forthin which the decisionmaking during the Falklands and Middle East wars seems to the authors
literallyto be saturated.20Awareness of grave nuclear danger seems to have
elicitednot only greatfearbut also greatcaution and enhanced psychological
maturity.The evolution of presidential decision-makingduring the missile
crisis,for example, is in large part the storyof a group of nuclear pilgrims'
progress toward an understanding of the predicament Khrushchev
was in.
Nothing resemblingthis sortof psychologicalevolution can be discovered in
In fact,psychologicaldevolution
the case studies in Psychology
and Deterrence.
in crises is the veritablesubject of the inquiry.
The psychological incommensurabilitybetween the nonnuclear and nuclear cases poses grave doubts about the central,if somewhat implicit,goal
of the book: to produce a more empiricalapproach to the study of nuclear
deterrenceby means of a psychologicalanalysis ofnonnuclearcases, ofwhich
we may have many and, at that, many that ran theircourse all the way to
war. But the psychologies of these two sorts of events-nuclear and nonnuclear-seem almost to be the inverse of one another as, indeed, do the
results. In each case examined in this book, war broke out, while we have
yet to experience a war between the superpowers.
19. See George Ball, McGeorge Bundy, Roswell Gilpatric,RobertMcNamara, Dean Rusk, and
Theodore Sorensen, "The Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis," Time,September27, 1982, pp.
85-86. See also Marc Trachtenberg,"The Influence of Nuclear Weapons in the Cuban Missile
Crisis," International
Security,Vol. 10, No. 1 (Summer 1985), pp. 137-163.

20. IrvingL. Janis,Groupthink:


ton Mifflin,1982), pp. 123-158. See also Alexander L. George, "The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962,"
in AlexanderL. George, David K. Hall, and William E. Simons, TheLimitsofCoerciveDiplomacy:
Laos, Cuba, Vietnam(Boston: Little,Brown, 1971), pp. 86-143.


Thus, in addition to questions of policy, any psychological inquiry into

nuclear deterrencemust also address these issues: first,what, if any, relevance have nonnuclear cases to nuclear cases in the era of mutual, potential
annihilation?It appears that, even when viewed within the somewhat reductive psychological categories favored by the authors of Psychologyand
the connections do not exist. Second, what should be the focus
of a psychological approach to nuclear crisis decision-making?A central
feature, it appears, ought to be the ways in which situational variables
interactwith what Jerviscalls the "nuclear revolution"to produce heightened
awareness of its implicationsin crises. Consistentwith thisorientationwould
be the avoidance of what is, in effect,a psychology of misperceptions,
miscalculations, and other presumedly psychologicallybased mistakes of
leaders. It ought to be replaced with a psychology of the evolving fear of
such mistakes, which is an entirelydifferentsort of inquiry,one requiring
far less borrowingfrompsychological literaturesand nonnuclear cases and
far more attentionto the nature, structure,and pace of the psychological
evolutionof leaders in nuclear crises. This means, finally,thatwe must return
to the study of Berlin in 1961 and most of all to Cuba in 1962 to decipher
and Deterrence,
why,unlike the outcomes of the cases discussed in Psychology
the United States and the Soviet Union did notgo to war during those deep
crises. In short,in order to meet the valid demand fora more empirical,less
deductive approach to nuclear deterrence,a new sort of immersionin "psychology" is required-not immersionin psychologicalliteratures,but rather
imaginativeimmersioninto the way nuclear danger looks and feels to those
who must tryto manage it.