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Madman Nuclear Alert: Secrecy, Signaling, and Safety in the October 1969 Crisis, The
Journal Article

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International Security, Vol. 27, page(s): 150-183

Spring 2003

The history of the October 1969 alert demonstrates that even in this high-politics arena of nuclear diplomacy, presidential orders were actively fought against, sometimes manipulated or ignored, and often honored only in part. Other orders were interpreted and implemented in a more vigorous manner that best suited the organizational interests of the military commanders doing the interpretation. The result was that many important details of the military activities undertaken in October 1969 reflected the operational interests of the military commanders and the goals of lower-level bureaucratic actors as much as the strategic objectives of the president. In this important sense, the nuclear alert was loosely coupled to the president´s orders.

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