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The button - the Pentagon's command and control system - does it work?

Daniel Ford's The Button on the other hand, is an activist's book, that is, lively and scary. He also examines in detail weak spots in the U.S. communications system, but in a linear fashion more understandable to lay readers and with anecdotes such as this: On a trip to the Strategic Air Command command post, Ford saw a general pick up a direct phone to the White House and fail to raise so much as an operator.

Ford also claims the Pentagon has a quick-release, use-them-or-lose-them attitude toward its nuclear weapons, in particular land-based ballistic missiles. He sees a great danger in this policy--that our military planning, in a crisis, may itself become a force pushing for war.

The apparent fragility of command and contorl, at best, calls into question whether the doctrine of flexible response in nuclear crises is practical and at worst implies that the nuclear balance is much more unstable than we realize.
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Author:Grier, Peter
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1985
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Next Article:Strategic command and control, redefining the nuclear threat.

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