Inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Peace Prize, Alfred Nobel:
“My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.”
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, 1967:
When calculating the force required, we must be conservative in all our estimates of both a potential aggressor’s capabilities and his intentions. Security depends upon assuming a worst plausible case, and having the ability to cope with it. In that eventuality we must be able to absorb the total weight of nuclear attack on our country — on our retaliatory forces, on our command and control apparatus, on our industrial capacity, on our cities, and on our population — and still be capable of damaging the aggressor to the point that his society would be simply no longer viable in twentieth-century terms. That is what deterrence of nuclear aggression means. It means the certainty of suicide to the aggressor, not merely to his military forces, but to his society as a whole.
The principle of mutually assured destruction didn’t work in the dynamite age. Has it worked in the nuclear age? If so, will it continue to work? And if it doesn’t work … what?