In 1999 Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University, wrote a paper analysing something she had observed among generals, politicians and strategists: the “nuclear taboo”. This was not, she argued, simply a matter of general queasiness or personal moral qualms; it had important consequences. The lack of nuclear wars in the years since America’s destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she argued, was not simply a matter of deterrence. It had also relied on a growing sense of the innate wrongness of nuclear weapons putting their use beyond the pale.
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