On both sides of the Iron Curtain, dedicated scientists cracked the secrets of nature, dutiful military men planned to use the bomb in war, politicians contemplated an intolerable decision. Patriotic citizens acquiesced in the idea that their country needed the ultimate means of defence. Some tried to grapple with the unanswerable question: what end could possibly be served by such a fearsome means? Those who protested went unheard. None wanted to start a nuclear war, but all were paranoid. The danger of war by accident or misjudgement was never entirely absent. And sadly the topic seems as relevant as ever.
Sir Rodric Braithwaite is a former British diplomat and author whose long Foreign Office career took him to Indonesia, Poland, Italy, America and Russia. He was British Ambassador in Moscow during the fall of the Soviet Union and was subsequently foreign policy adviser to John Major and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
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