This article distills insights for the scholarship of deterrence by examining the 1983 nuclear crisis – the moment of maximum danger of the late Cold War. Important contributions notwithstanding, our understanding of this episode still has caveats, and a significant pool of theoretical lessons for strategic studies remain to be learned. Utilizing newly available sources, this article suggests an alternative interpretation of Soviet and US conduct.
The first fundamental canon of The Code of Ethics for Engineers adopted by Tau Beta Pi states that “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties.” When we design systems, we routinely use large safety factors to account for unforeseen circumstances. The Golden Gate Bridge was designed with a safety factor several times the anticipated load. This “over design” saved the bridge, along with the lives of the 300,000 people who thronged onto it in 1987 to celebrate its fiftieth anniver- sary.