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The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review: A return to nuclear warfighting?

Lonsdale, David J.


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Dr David Lonsdale
Senior Lecturer/ Programme Director, BA War Studies/ Programme Director, MA Strategy and International Security


© 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) represents a significant shift in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. Using Cold War vintage theory, this article assesses whether the NPR signals a return to nuclear warfighting. The NPR is assessed against five primary drivers for warfighting strategy: enhanced deterrence; to deal with deterrence failure; to maximize damage limitation; to provide a theory of victory; and adherence to just-war theory. The article concludes that although the NPR represents a step in the direction of warfighting, it does not fully embrace it. This is primarily because the NPR fails to endorse an unrestrained theory of victory.


Lonsdale, D. J. (2019). The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review: A return to nuclear warfighting?. Comparative Strategy, 38(2), 98-117.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 6, 2019
Online Publication Date May 17, 2019
Publication Date Mar 4, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Comparative Strategy
Print ISSN 0149-5933
Electronic ISSN 1521-0448
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 2
Pages 98-117
Public URL
Publisher URL


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