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Mutual Assured Destruction

Definition/Scope: Mutually assured destruction (M.A.D.) is sometimes seen as a doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. It was based on the theory of deterrence according to which the deployment of strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons. The strategy is effectively a form of Nash equilibrium, in which both sides are attempting to avoid their worst possible outcome—nuclear annihilation. The theory assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate escalation resulting in both combatants’ total and assured destruction.



Broader Terms:

nuclear deterrence
nuclear warfare

Narrower Terms:

Able Archer

Related Terms:

Cold war
Continuity Of Operations
intercontinental ballistic missile
Strategic Defense Initiative
weapons of mass destruction

CALL Homepage >> Thesaurus Last Updated: Sept 17, 2008