Thomas Schelling, Re-Explored

January 4, 2017
Joshua Pollack

The following is an adapted excerpt from a two-part blog posted on January 2, 2017.

Decades after studying nuclear theory under Thomas Schelling, Nonproliferation Review Editor Joshua Pollack revisits Schelling’s major ideas on strategy and social policy upon the author’s recent passing, and “began to appreciate just how central his work remains, despite the specific, vanished circumstances of its origins. His work is not always easy to digest, especially those two landmark books of the 1960s; they’re rather lumpy reads. But read again I did, and came away with new understandings.

“It’s with some ambivalence that I finally try to set down some of these thoughts now that he is gone and can no longer correct my interpretations. But never mind. Here goes… “

Part one of the series explores deterrence in Europe, specifically, how to deter a seemingly more powerful Soviet enemy. Part two looks eastward at how events in Asia shaped Schelling’s ideas on compellence.

To read the full, two-part blog post, visit

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