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The 2018 nuclear posture review: A return to 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


The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) represents a significant shift in US nuclear weapons policy. Using Cold War vintage theory, this paper 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; adherence to Just War. The paper 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 warfighting?. Comparative Strategy, 38(2), 98-117.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 6, 2019
Online Publication Date May 17, 2019
Publication Date May 17, 2019
Deposit Date Feb 12, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 18, 2020
Print ISSN 0149-5933
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 2
Pages 98-117
Public URL
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