April 1, 2022 | Foreign Podicy

Why MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) Is No Longer Reassuring

April 1, 2022 Foreign Podicy

Why MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) Is No Longer Reassuring


Central to America’s strategy in the Cold War was the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The idea was to make nuclear warfare a lose-lose proposition — a game you just can’t win. Whichever side was attacked would retain the capability to counterattack. Both sides would end up devastated, if not annihilated.

But MAD works only if both sides are equally averse to mass death and destruction.

When it comes to Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Ali Khamenei, and Kim Jong-un, can we be confident of that?

If not, what replaces MAD? Perhaps robust deterrence and comprehensive missile defense systems — neither of which can be achieved easily, cheaply, or quickly. And we’ve really not yet begun to pursue such goals.

To unpack these issues, Foreign Podicy host Cliff May is joined by Rob Soofer. Formerly the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy, Rob is now a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic Studies. He also previously served as a professor at the National War College and as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

Also with us: Bradley Bowman, a West Point Graduate, who served as an active-duty U.S. Army officer, Black Hawk pilot, and top advisor to two U.S. Senators. Brad is now the senior director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power.


China Iran Iran Nuclear Military and Political Power Nonproliferation North Korea Russia U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy