Balance of Terror

The term balance of terror commonly refers to the relationship that evolved between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. Whereas the bipolar world of the Cold War was seen as two countries vying for a balance of power, some saw the inclusion of nuclear weapons in that geopolitical system as a balance of terror. The term not only describes the deterrent relationship between the two states but the near “world-ending” situation—mutually assured destruction—that could develop if the two nations had a massive nuclear exchange. While the term had more meaning during the Cold War, the “assured destruction” deterrent aspect implied in the phrase still applies to the relationship between the United States and Russia today as well as some other ...

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