I touched on the unexpected ability of US and Soviet authorities to avoid destroying the planet in my first post on Denethor. I’m no expert on international relations and military strategy, so it’s gratifying to see that someone who is an expert has done the research and backs up my suspicion that it was, first, the intended consequence of the policies and plans of the leadership and, second, something that J.R.R. Tolkien would not have had any reason to expect.
Bruno Tertrais (who just published a book entitled The Backlash of History or maybe “the revenge”; either way, yikes!) writes in the Washington Quarterly that, “Most strategists of the 1960s would be stunned to hear that as of 2017, there still has yet to be another nuclear use in anger,” and goes on to explain why that wasn’t just coincidence. It was a consequence of the procedures put in place to control nuclear weapons, and the extreme seriousness with which the leaders of the nuclear-armed countries took their jobs.
So, as Stephen Winter and I ended up agreeing, Denethor was right all along.