Cover image for War scare : Russia and America on the nuclear brink
War scare : Russia and America on the nuclear brink
Pry, Peter Vincent.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvii, 340 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1440 Lexile.
Personal Subject:
Format :


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E183.8.R9 P79 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Why do some American intelligence officials maintain fallout shelters and private contingency plans to evacuate their families in the event of a Russian nuclear strike--even in today's post-Cold War era of U.S.-Russian partnership? The frightening answer lies within the pages of War Scare , a terrifying assessment of the prospect for nuclear holocaust in our day. Written by Peter Vincent Pry, a former CIA military analyst, War Scare provides a history of our country's little-known brushes with nuclear war and warns that, contrary to popular opinion and the assurances of our political leaders, the possibility of a Russian attack still exists. Nuclear deterrence has been the foundation of Western security for the last 50 years, but since the end of the Cold War, Russian military doctrine has become more destabilizing, and much more dangerous, than is commonly believed.

By making use of a wealth of declassified and unclassified material, Dr. Pry illustrates how Russia's brutal past continues to shape the consciousness and decision making of its leaders, many of whom are unreconstructed ideologues from the old Soviet regime. Gripped by a perpetual perception of imminent threat--a war scare--the Russian General Staff, which controls the technical capability of launching a nuclear strike, has shown itself to be unstable at best. The author explores recent history and near-disasters such as the Bosnian crisis, the Norway missile incident, and U.S. air strikes on Iraq from the perspective of the Russian General Staff, believing that only by understanding their viewpoint can we minimize the risk of unintentionally provoking a deadly attack. Wary of NATO expansion and reeling from the Russian economy's descent into chaos, the General Staff may interpret Western military exercises and operations in the Middle East and elsewhere as concealing surprise aggression against Russia. This is a grave situation, indeed, as even after the START I, II, and III agreements, Russia will retain enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world--not to mention significantly expanded chemical and biological warfare capability. War Scare convincingly shows that we ignore these facts at our peril.

Author Notes

PETER VINCENT PRY, formerly with the CIA, is currently a professional military advisor to the U.S. House of Representatives on national security issues./e In an award honoring his years of service, the CIA stated: A noted expert in his field, Dr. Pry conducted groundbreaking research that illuminated one of the most important issues of our time, the U.S.-Soviet nuclear competition. On the vanguard of strategic intelligence analysis during the Cold War, he developed much of what the U.S. government knows about Soviet planning for nuclear war, including Soviet views of the character of war, perceptions of U.S. intentions, assessment of the nuclear balance, and operational plans. In the post-Cold War period, his work has been central to the U.S. government's understanding of evolving Russian threat perceptions and military doctrine, and the construction of new paradigms for strategic warning and stability assessments. He lives in Annandale, Virginia.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The arrival of the year 2000 will find humankind's basket of worries distressingly full, with issues like Y2K, global warning, and biological terrorism lurking around the corner. Yet how many Americans worry about the Russian nuclear arsenal and the threat of surprise nuclear war? Not enough, warns Pry, a former CIA intelligence officer. Drawing on his experience with the Agency and a close review of public sources, Pry argues that we have been closer to nuclear war with Russia than top U.S. officials dare to admit. Pry's accounts of five war scares since 1983 and his review of the profound internal crisis in Russia are not for the faint of heart. Even if we disagree with him on just how close to nuclear Armageddon we actually are, his book reminds us that Russia's nuclear force poses a genuine threat to U.S. national security far into the 21st century. It also reminds us that the Clinton administration's nuclear-risk-reduction proposals are much more than another foreign giveaway. It is unfortunate that War Scare, so long in the works, does not provide an updated assessment of relations between Russia and the West in the aftermath of NATO's expansion and the Kosovo conflict, when East-West relations have nose-dived. Otherwise, it is a valuable book.ÄJohn Raymond Walser, U.S. Dept of State, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Missiles of November: ABLE ARCHER 83, November 2-11, 1983
August Coup: The Fall of the Soviet Empire, August 19-21, 1991
The Armenian Crisis, May 1992
The October Coup, September 21-October 4, 1993
Northern Lights: The Norwegian Missile Crisis, January 25, 1995
The Future?
Selected Sources