Did detente work?

A viewer asked this question on 7/17/2000:

What is a nuclear stalemate how does it occur

stevehaddock gave this response on 7/18/2000:

Nuclear Stalemate is based on a doctrine known as "Mutual Assured Destruction" or MAD for short. Simply put, an assumption is made that any nuclear attack against an enemy with nuclear arms will result in a counter-attack that will completely destroy the nation launching the nuclear attack no matter what advantages are available to the attacking side.

Luckily, this doctrine was never tested in practice! The United States and USSR are the only two nations which ever had MAD capacity. Other nuclear powers could do a lot of damage, but many of them lacked the ability to launch a counter-attack against an enemy due to lack of weapons or the ability to deliver them to the target.

Of course, this is of prime importance in SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks). The main thing to be argued is just how many weapons do you need to assure MAD? One could argue that each side would only need a few nuclear submarines to assure MAD (One U.S. Trident could carry 16 missiles each capable of hitting 10 targets - and submarines are virtually impossible to find and destroy in the open sea). Even a few well aimed missiles could cause unbelieved amounts of damage due to concentrations of population and industrial capability.

But more simply, a nuclear stalemate is where both sides feel they cannot launch a nuclear missile in a conflict because of the fear of retaliation. Luckily, this seems to have prevented the use of such weapons for the past 55 years.

JesseGordon responded:

... [discovering MAD]

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